How Long Do Seeds Take To Sprout? (Time To Germination)

Maybe you are just a little impatient – or maybe there is something wrong with your seeds? Either way, it helps to know how long it takes for seed germination – and what can slow down or stop the process.

So, how long do seeds take to sprout? Most vegetable and flower seeds sprout in two weeks or less with ideal soil temperature and moisture. If the soil is too hot, too cold, or too dry, seed germination rates will be low or zero. A soil temperature of 70 to 75 Fahrenheit (21 to 24 Celsius) is ideal for germinating most seeds.

At borderline soil temperature, some seeds take weeks or months to sprout. For example, at a soil temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), tomato seeds take up to 6 weeks to sprout!

In this article, we’ll take a look at some common plants and how long their seeds take to sprout. We’ll also talk about how to make it happen a little faster.

Let’s get started.

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How Long Do Seeds Take To Sprout? (Time To Germination)

Many vegetable and flower seeds will sprout within two weeks in ideal conditions (proper soil temperature, moisture levels, and planting depth – more on these factors below).

radish seedlings
Many vegetable and flower seeds sprout within 2 weeks under ideal conditions (soil temperature, moisture, etc.)

Some seeds (such as turnips) germinate in 1 to 2 days under ideal conditions. Other seeds (like parsley and parsnips) are closer to 2 weeks. Then there are celery and leeks seeds, which can take 2 to 3 weeks to germinate in ideal conditions.

All seeds will take longer to sprout outside of their ideal soil temperature range.

How Do You Make Seeds Sprout Faster?

Under ideal conditions, seeds will germinate faster – and you will get a higher germination rate (percentage of planted seeds that sprout), which reduces wasted seeds.

The question is: how do you make seeds sprout faster? There are several ways to ensure that your seeds sprout faster and at a higher germination rate.

Use A Good Seed Starting Mix

A good seed starting mix is soilless and fine (without big clumps) and generally lacks nutrients (you would add fertilizer later, after seedlings emerge). Digging topsoil out of the garden is not the best idea, since you might introduce pathogens that can kill seeds.

sphagnum peat moss
A good seed starting mix is soilless and sterile.
Image courtesy of user:
Ragesoss via:
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.

Seed starting mix is usually made from some combination of peat moss, coconut fiber, perlite, vermiculite, and possibly sand or sterile compost.

You can buy seed starting mix or make your own – you can learn how to do it here.

Keep Soil At The Ideal Temperature

Soil temperature is one of the most important factors for seed germination. In the ideal range, seeds will germinate much faster.

Seeds germinate much faster when soil is in the ideal temperature range (which varies by plant type).

A soil temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 24 degrees Celsius) is great for most vegetable and flower seeds. Some seeds can sprout in cooler or warmer soil, but the process is often much slower outside of the ideal range.

Keeping soil at the right temperature has a big effect on seed germination. You can see visually how soil temperature affects time to seed germination with this app I created! (preview below)

soil temperature for seed germination app preview
My soil temperature for seed germination app will show you ideal ranges for various vegetable seeds.

For example, carrots take 6 to 7 days to germinate at the ideal soil temperature range of 65 to 85 Fahrenheit (18 to 29 Celsius). However, they take up to 51 days to sprout at a soil temperature of 40 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius).

A soil thermometer will help you to figure out the exact soil temperature so you can make adjustments. You can also learn about lots of ways to keep soil warm for seeds here.

Once your soil is at the right temperature, you need to start thinking about water as well.

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Maintain Soil Moisture Levels

In addition to warmth, seeds also need water and air to germinate. This means that the soil needs to be damp but not soaked.

If the soil is too dry, seeds will not germinate. If the soil is too wet, the seeds will rot or “drown” (too much water means not enough space for air in the soil).

One good way to maintain soil moisture is to use a spray bottle (plant mister). This makes it easy to add water to a seed tray container without over watering (and washing away soil or seeds).

spray bottle head
A spray bottle is a simple but effective way to water seeds without overdoing it.

Another good method is to bottom water your seed trays. Basically, this means putting your seed tray (with holes in the bottom) inside a larger container of water. The soil will soak up water, working against gravity to absorb enough moisture to help your seeds germinate.

A humidity dome will help to retain soil moisture, especially if you have dry air and high winds to contend with. Just remember to remove the dome after your seedlings start to emerge from the soil.

Plant Seeds At The Proper Depth

Sowing seeds at the proper depth will improve germination rate and help plants emerge faster. The proper seed planting depth varies, but a good rule is to plant at twice the diameter of the seed.

corn seeds
Bigger seeds (like corn) are planted deeper than small seeds (like lettuce).

For example, a 1-inch seed is planted at a depth of 2 inches. A 1/2 inch seed is planted at a depth of 1 inch. Tiny seeds should barely be covered with soil.

Planting seeds too deep slows down germination (or prevents it entirely).

Keep in mind that some seeds (such as celery, dill, lettuce, or petunias) need sunlight to germinate. As a result, it is best to press those particular seeds into the top of the soil (and maybe sprinkle a thin layer of peat moss lightly over them).

lettuce seedling
Lettuce seeds need light to germinate.

You can learn more about which seeds need light to germinate here.

Choose New Seed

Using new seed may not speed up germination, but it is a good way to ensure higher germination rates and avoid wasted time.

seed package
Buy newer seed to get higher germination rates.

If you plant seed that is too old, you will get low or zero germination rates. The time that seeds last varies a lot, too.

For example, lettuce, onion, spinach, and many herb seeds only last 1 year before germination rates decline considerably. On the other hand, cauliflower, eggplant, and pumpkin seeds last 4 years before germination rates decrease.

Cauliflower seeds can last 4 years, so you can keep them around for a while.


Now you know how long seeds take to sprout and how to speed it up with proper soil temperature. You also know how improper watering or planting depth can set you back.

When sowing indoors for outdoor transplant at a later date, be sure to start seeds at the right time (based on your last frost date) and repot seedlings into larger containers if needed.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

You can learn how to save seeds from your garden here.

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Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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