Personally, I find the paper towel method to be the best way to encourage a high germination rate among strawberry seeds. If you only have a few seeds to work with, I highly advise using this method; it’s important to know that berry seeds need light to germinate, as I found out through trial and error. Paper towels allow in more light than soil!
I get incredibly fast germination rates when I place my strawberry seeds in paper towels in the kitchen window!
Stick with me, and I’ll tell you my secrets to getting all of those tricky little strawberry seeds to sprout. A lot of people might tell you that it’s too hard.
That strawberry seeds have low germination rates.
That the plants will take too long to produce fruit.
Those are all myths! I promise!
So whip out your paper towels, assemble your cleaned and stratified strawberry seeds (click if you’re not sure what that means! It makes a MASSIVE difference in germination rates!), and let’s get to sprouting some berry plants!
Which Paper Towels Should You Use to Germinate Strawberry Seeds?
I recommend that you choose white, high quality, dye and chemical free paper towels. OR, any white paper towels will do, too! If you choose printed towels, it’ll just make the process a bit harder for you when checking on the seedlings. The colors may bleed as well; I’m not certain on this, but I could only imagine a printed paper towel would bleed after being wet for over seven days straight. I have always used plain, white towels for this process, but sometimes you have to use the things you have on hand!
Make sure that the towels were not previously exposed to moisture, because you do not want them to be moldy or mildewed. Do not use towels that were previously used for food, either. While this might seem like a good recycling project, you do not want old food contaminating your strawberry seedlings.
How Much Water Should I Wet the Paper Towels With?
Space your seeds out evenly, with at least 0.5″ between seeds, onto one half of a paper towel. Fold the other half over the top; this will sandwich the seeds inside of the paper towel, allowing it to fit into a Ziploc bag. Drip water over this “sandwich” until it’s just moist enough to seal the paper towel together, preventing the seeds from moving or rolling out. You just want it barely damp, not soaked. Place the damp paper towel inside of the Ziploc bag, removing any wrinkles. If the paper towel is too wet, this process will be rather tedious. Once the paper towel is neatly inside of the bag, add several drops of water, just until the paper towel is wet- not water logged or dripping. Squeeze out all of the air and seal the bag! Do not forget to label the bag with the strawberry seed variety and the date of planting.
How Long Do Strawberry Seeds Take to Germinate on Paper Towels?
There are so many variables that will affect the germination times of strawberry seeds. When will your strawberry seeds germinate? Will they germinate well during the winter time? Do strawberries have a hard time germinating? Do they need light?
I will say that, yes, strawberries are picky when it comes to germination. However, it is still VERY easy to accommodate these picky seeds with the paper towel method. If you give the seeds what they want, you’re looking at between 4 to 14 days before the seeds germinate. If you do not provide them with exactly what they want, it could be up to 4 weeks for most of the seeds, and sometimes longer for the rest.
How to Promote High Germination Rates Using the Paper Towel Method
Even in the best of cases, some seeds will simply germinate much later than the others. They seem to stagger germination every time. Try these tips:
- Keep the seeds moist at all times.
- Use only one paper towel layer on either side of the seeds to allow light in.
- Always provide bright light during the germination process, such as a sunny window.
- Keep the seeds warm, and out of drafty spots at night and during the winter.
- Check seeds consistently, and remove developing seedlings to pot them as they germinate.