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Cook Seeds Before Planting?

3.8 based on 6 ratings

Updated on Mar 18, 2010





Difficulty of Project



$ 10-$15

Safety Issues

Wear safety glasses, apron and plastic gloves.

Material Availability

All materials are readily available from the neighborhood garden center.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

3 -4 weeks. This includes collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.


To determine whether cooking seeds before planting will speed up plant germination and growth or whether just soaking the seeds suffice.

Materials and Equipment required

  • zinnia seeds,
  • potting soil,
  • fertilizer
  • one pair of forceps
  • 12 plant pots or 3 planter quads
  • water, watering can
  • measuring cup
  • a small tea strainer
  • medicine dropper
  • 2 pots
  • a stove
  • labels
  • pen
  • centimeter ruler
  • paper towels
  • plastic gloves
  • safety glasses
  • apron


Background Information

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint pupils with some basic concepts in plant science, Botany. Pupils learn what seeds are, contain, what are the basic conditions under which seeds germinate, how these conditions may be altered such as the process of soaking the seeds to hasten germination, what the resultant plants need in order to grow and flourish, how plants deteriorate when they lack sufficient nutrients, warmth and light or when they are subjected to excesses of water, light, warmth or food.

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one. In this particular experiment, pupils learn to use a large number of plants in case of loss of specimens due to “deadly” conditions.

Research Terms

  • botany
  • plant science
  • seed
  • soil
  • peat moss
  • fertilizer
  • germination
  • soaking vs cooking
  • standard conditions of light and temperature

Research Questions

  • What do plants need in order to live and grow?
  • How do plants grow?
  • What makes plants grow faster?
  • What are seeds?
  • What do they contain?
  • How do you soak a seed?
  • How is soaking different from cooking?
  • What is potting mix?
  • What is fertilizer and what purpose does it serve?
  • Why would we want to germinate seeds faster?
  • What are seedlings?
  • How do we plant seedlings?
  • What is the proper method to soak seeds at home?

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is a control? A control is the variable that is not changed in the experiment.
  • What purpose does a control serve? It is used to make comparisons as to what changed or possibly caused the change.
  • What are variables? Variables are factors that can be changed in an experiment.
  • What is an independent variable? The independent variable is the one that is changed in the experiment.
  • What is a dependent variable? The dependent variable is the one that changes as a result of the change in the independent variable.

Charting and or Graphing Data

In each section of the experiment, use charts to display the obtained data such the following sample:

Charting Your Observations



Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6





Soak #1

Soak #2

Soak #3

Soak #4

Control #1

Control # 2

Experimental Procedure

This experiment will require some preparation the day before you actually start. You need to prepare your soaked seeds. The seeds should be soaked in warm water and left in the water for 24 hours. Take about 12 zinnia seeds and place them in a bowl of warm, not hot, water. Let them sit for use for tomorrow. Now, on the next day, begin the experiment by going through the following steps:

  1. State the problem you are going to investigate.
  2. Create and review the data sheets you will use to record your observations.
  3. Gather all your materials.
  4. Put on your safety glasses, plastic gloves and apron.
  5. Make out your labels as follows: Cooked #1, Cooked 2, Cooked #3, Cooked#4 , Soaked #1, Soaked#2, Soaked#3 and Soaked #4, and Control #1and Control #2.
  6. You are now going to cook some of the zinnia seeds. In a pot on the stove, place about twelve zinnia seeds, cover with ½ a cup of water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain with the strainer which you lined with a piece of paper toweling to capture the cooked seeds.
  7. Make a mixture of peat moss and potting soil using ¾ soil and ¼ peat moss. Fill all your plant pots ¾ full with this mixture.
  8. Start with your control labeled pots and plant three regular seeds, not the cooked or the soaked ones, 1/4 to1/2 inch deep. Cover them lightly with soil and one medicine dropper of water. They will germinate in approximately 5 days.
  9. Now plant your cooked seeds in the containers labeled cooked #1, 2, 3, and 4 and do the same with you soaked seeds planting them in pots labeled soaked #1, 2, 3, and 4. Water each one with one medicine dropper full of water.
  10. Put all of your plant containers in one a warm place watering them on a daily basis.
  11. For each of the six days, record your observations in your data chart. Analyze the data and formulate a conclusion. Did your conclusion match your hypothesis? Did the experiment work out the way you expected? Why of why not?
  12. Prepare your report and include all of the following: a clear statement of the problem, your hypothesis, namely what did you predict would occur. Provide a list of the materials used. Include the safety precautions taken. Describe the procedures used. Include all the data that were gathered. Include your chart. Explain the purpose of the control. Formulate your conclusions. For dramatic value, you may include photos of the materials used or of you in the process of conducting this investigation. Include a bibliography of sources you used. You may wish to assess what you did and describe what you would do differently if you were to do this project again. You may wish to expand this research next year. What other materials might you investigate for this purpose?
  13. You may want to transplant your seedlings. Prepare the peat moss, soil mixture in new pots and plant the seedling 6 inches apart. Enjoy them. They are beautiful!


  1. Cork, Barbara. Mysteries and Marvels of Plant Life. London: Usborne- Hayes Publishing Ltd. 1983
  2. Leibowitz, Wanda. How to Soak Seeds Yourself at Home: A Guide to Soaking for Fast Germination, published on June 12, 2007
  3. Wexler, Jerome. Flowers, Fruits and Seeds. New York: Prentice Hall, 1988
Dr. Muriel Gerhard (Ed.D.) is a retired educator with fifty seven years of experience in all aspects of public education. She has been a teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, researcher, grants writer, change agent and science editor. She is the author of several books on education used as college texts. These include the best selling Effective Teaching Strategies with the Behavioral Outcomes Approach and The Behavioral Outcomes Handbook for Teachers and Administrators. Presently she is a consultant in science education and curriculum development, a marriage and family therapist, a newspaper columnist and an author. Her latest book, recently published, is a memoir of sixty vignettes entitled Ć¢Now That I`m Dead, I Decided to Write this Book."