What Is the Seed Germination Process?

seed-germination-process Credit: Dwight Sipler/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

The seed germination process is a complex process in which the embryonic plant created by sexual reproduction of plants propagates the species by forming a new, independent plant. In order to germinate, the moisture and temperatures must be right. New plants live a short while on the sugars stored in the seed, requiring the plant to start gathering nutrients and moisture from the soil and producing its own food quickly.

Once a plant produces a seed, it remains dormant until it senses the conditions are right for germination. All seeds require water, the right temperature and oxygen to germinate. Water initiates the metabolic processes needed for the seed to germinate. Use of the sugars stored in the seed requires respiration, a process requiring oxygen. If the soil is too wet, the seed cannot obtain the needed oxygen and does not germinate. Seeds do not germinate when the temperatures drop below freezing. Some require full light to germinate, and others require darkness.

When the proper conditions exist, the seed takes in water and oxygen through its seed coat. Cells start to grow larger, eventually breaking the seed coat. The root emerges first, followed by the shoot, which contains the stem and leaves.