How to Germinate Seeds in Paper Towel: A Complete Guide

Seed germination is a crucial stage in the life cycle of plants, It’s when they start growing. While there are various methods for germinating seeds, one simple and effective technique is using paper towels.

In this guide, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions for germinating seeds in paper towels and explain why it’s helpful.

Why Germinate Seeds in Paper Towels?

Growing seeds in paper towels offers many advantages that make it a popular choice for gardeners:


The traditional way to grow seeds uses trays or pots. These take up a lot of room. With paper towels, you can grow seeds in a neat, compact way.

Easy observation:

With paper towels, it’s easy to check how the seeds are growing. Gardeners can see the seedlings, roots, and which seeds are sprouting without disturbing them like in soil.

Faster germination:

Paper towels give seeds a damp place to grow. This helps them sprout faster and more evenly than in soil.


This method is suitable for a wide range of seeds. It is particularly beneficial for seeds with longer germination periods or requiring specific conditions for optimal growth.


Germinating seeds in paper towels requires only a few things and is a simple process, so anyone who likes gardening can do it.

Steps to Germinate Seeds in Paper Towel

Germinating seeds in paper towels follows a simple process. Here are the steps:

Supplies Needed

  • Seeds.
  • Paper towel sheets.
  • Small spray bottle with water.
  • Resealable plastic bag or container.
  • Tweezers. (optional)
Seeds on Paper Towel


  1. Use a spray bottle to lightly dampen a paper towel. It should be moist but not soaking wet.
  1. Arrange seeds in a single layer on one half of the paper towel, spacing them 1-2 inches apart. This gives them room to sprout.
  1. Gently fold the other half of the towel over the top of the seeds to cover them.
  1. Place the folded paper towel inside a plastic bag or container.
  1. Store it in a warm, dark location such as a kitchen cabinet to facilitate seed germination.
  1. Check the paper towel daily for signs of root growth. Make sure it stays damp but not too wet. If the paper towel starts to dry out, spray it lightly with water to maintain proper moisture.
  1. Wait until the roots of the germinated seeds reach a length of 1-2 inches before transplanting.
Germinating Seeds in Paper Towel

Transferring Germinated Seeds

Once the seeds have germinated and developed roots, it’s time to transfer them to soil for further growth. Follow these steps for successful transplantation:

  1. Fill small pots or seedling trays with wet potting soil. Make small holes in the soil for planting.
  1. Using tweezers or your fingers, carefully lift each germinated seedling from the paper towel. Handle them with care to avoid damaging the delicate roots.
  1. Place the seed in the prepared hole, making sure that only the white part of the root is buried. The green stem should stay above the soil.
  1. Cover the hole with soil, pressing lightly to secure the seedling in place.
seedling tray

What Kinds of Seeds Can You Germinate in a Paper Towel?

The paper towel method is suitable for a wide variety of seeds, including:

Warm-Season Vegetables:

  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Chili Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Cool-Season Vegetables:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Turnip


  • Cantaloupe
  • Muskmelon
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite its simplicity, seed germination in paper towels may encounter some challenges. Here’s how to address common issues:

  • Seeds Not Sprouting: Increase warmth by placing the seeds in a warmer location or re-soak the paper towel to provide additional moisture.
  • Mold Growth: Reduce humidity by allowing more air circulation and use less water when initially soaking the paper towel.
  • Transferring Issues: Handle germinated seeds with care to avoid damaging delicate roots, using tweezers for precise handling.

Tips for the Best Results

To optimize the success of your seed germination endeavors, consider the following tips:

  • Use Thick Paper Towels: Thick paper towels retain moisture better, ensuring optimal conditions for seed germination.
  • Proper Spacing: Leave enough space between seeds on the paper towel to prevent overcrowding and facilitate growth.
  • Regular Monitoring: Check the progress of seed germination regularly, ideally every 24 hours.
  • Handle with care: When transferring germinated seeds to soil, handle seedlings gently to avoid damaging delicate roots.


In conclusion, germinating seeds in a paper towel offers numerous benefits, including space-saving, observation opportunities, and simplicity. By following the steps outlined in this guide and implementing the tips provided, you can successfully germinate various seeds and kickstart your gardening journey with confidence.

Experiment with different seeds and techniques, and don’t hesitate to share your experiences with us. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do seeds germinate in the dark or light?

Seeds usually grow better in the dark. Light can slow down their growth by breaking down carbonic acid and releasing oxygen, which can make the seed coat tough. These gases are important for helping seeds sprout.

Is it better to germinate seeds in a paper towel or soil?

Both methods have their pros and cons. Germinating in paper towels is faster, easier to monitor, and requires less space. However, seedlings germinated in soil tend to be stronger and have a higher success rate when transplanted. Ultimately, the best method for you depends on your needs and preferences.

Can I use toilet paper to germinate seeds?

Technically, yes, you can use toilet paper to germinate seeds. However, it’s not recommended. Toilet paper is thinner and weaker than paper towels, so it’s more likely to rip or tear when wet.

How long does it take to germinate seeds in a paper towel?

The germination time varies depending on the type of seed. Some seeds can germinate in just 2-3 days, while others may take up to 1 week or more. Check the seed packet for the expected germination time for your specific seeds.


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