Which Seeds Can Survive a Harsh Winter?

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Updated on Oct 28, 2013

Grade Level: 7th – 9th; Type: Botany


The purpose of this project is to determine which seeds are most likely to survive harsh winter conditions (low temperatures).

Research Questions:

Which seeds can best survive cold temperatures?

In the fall, many flowers disperse their seeds far and wide. In the spring, those seeds will sprout. But what happens during the wintertime when temperatures are low? Some seeds can survive lower temperatures than others. In this science project, you will simulate harsh winter conditions and see which seeds are the heartiest.


  • Bags of three types of seeds.
  • Small plastic bags
  • Permanent marker
  • Freezer
  • Paper towel
  • Water
  • Small plastic plate
  • Gallon-sized plastic bags

Experimental Procedure

  1. Count out twenty five of each type of seed.
  2. Place each group of twenty five seeds in individual plastic bags.
  3. Label the plastic bags with the name of the seeds in them, as well as the word “frozen.”
  4. Count out an addition twenty five seeds of each type, and place them in their own bags.
  5. Label those plastic bags with the name of the seeds in them, as well as the word “control.”
  6. Place the plastic bags labeled “frozen” into the freezer for five days. This will simulate a cold winter, in which the seeds undergo very low temperatures.
  7. Wet a paper towel and wring it out to remove excess water. Fold the paper towel in half, and then in half again. Place the paper towel on a small plastic plate.
  8. Scatter the seeds from one of the frozen bags onto the paper towel. Place the entire plate into a gallon-sized sealable bag. Label the bag with the same words as were on the original baggie.
  9. Repeat Steps 7 and 8 with the rest of the groups of seeds. Place all of the bags in indirect sunlight.
  10. Every two days, add a bit of water to the paper towels, and count the number of seeds on each plate that have already germinated. Record your data.
  11. After a full two weeks, analyze your data. How many seeds have germinated on each plate? (If you’d like, you can convert this to a percentage.) Which seeds best survived the “freezing winter”?

Terms/Concepts: Germination; Dormant seeds; In which climate do each of the seeds in this experiment thrive?

References: First Place Science Fair Projects for Inquisitive Kids, by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. Pp. 50-51.

Keren Perles has worked as an educational writer, editor, teacher, and tutor of all ages. Her experience spans the subject areas, from science and math, to English and the Hebrew language.

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