Pre-Soaking And Scarifying Seeds

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Pre-Soaking and Scarification

To simulate the processes that seeds go through in nature, we sometimes need to take an extra step to help them germinate. We talked about Stratification, or cold treatment in an earlier post. Here we’ll discuss two other methods: pre-soaking and scarification.

Seeds of All Sizes


No, it isn’t about jumping out and shouting “boo!” at your seeds! Scarification is used on seeds with especially tough coats, to allow water to penetrate and wake them up. These seeds are made to be impervious to water, to protect them during dormancy. In nature, a good freeze/thaw cycle or a trip through the digestive tract of a small animal will do the trick to soften the coat.

You can use sandpaper or a nail file, laid flat on a table. Make sure to locate the end of the seed that has the “eye”, or spot where the tiny root will emerge. You want to scarify the opposite end, so you don’t damage the eye. Run the end of the seed back and forth along the file a few times, just enough to rub through the outer coat. Follow up by soaking them for a few hours, if you like.


Morning Glory Seeds

Soaking is another form of scarification. To help soften the tough outer coats of some seeds, they need to soak in a hot bath for a while. Place your seeds in a container, then add warm water. Let them sit for 6-12 hours, or overnight. Any seeds that are big, wrinkled or tough-looking will benefit. That includes peas, beans, corn, pumpkins, and squash; even chard and beets. Some flowers that like a soak include sunflowers, sweet pea, lupine, morning glories, and nasturtium.

Make sure you plant your soaked seeds right away the next morning! Left too long in the water, they’ll quickly start to rot.

Beans in the garden

Once you’ve finished pre-treating your seeds, they’re ready to germinate! Some will be ready for direct sowing in your garden, but other seeds need time to grow indoors before they can be planted out. To learn more about starting seeds, check our post about germination.


Copyright Everwilde Farms 2018

2 thoughts on “Pre-Soaking And Scarifying Seeds”

Leave a Reply