When time is important – like planning for a science fair project – picking seeds that germinate quickly can be a key to success. Radishes push up through soil quickly, as do melon and squash plants. For flowers, choose zinnias or marigolds, also quick growers.
Radishes Are Super Fast
To begin germinating, a seed needs to absorb a large amount of water through its outer coat. This activates an enzyme within the seed that's vital for germination and later growth of the seedling. Radish seeds absorb water quickly and seedlings appear above the soil in short order, usually taking between six and eight days. However, because they're small, radish seeds can challenge small children's hands. Also, radish shoots are tiny and not very dramatic compared to some of the other options.
Melons Pop Up Quickly
The most common melons used in science projects are watermelons, although other melons including cantaloupe and honeydew are also good choices. All these seeds are generally big enough for little hands to handle with ease, and their bright green shoots are moderate-sized and easy to see. They also germinate in 5 to 10 days.
Squash or Pumpkins
Squash seeds are quite sturdy and fairly simple to grow, germinating in 6 to 10 days. Although many types of squash seeds work well, pumpkin seeds are a good choice because they're large and children usually know about them from Halloween.
Beans and Peas
Green beans are common choices for science projects. They germinate dependably in 7 to 10 days and are easy to handle. The beans themselves also resemble beans that children recognize from their food, helping them learn what seeds are and how plants create them. Beans also produce a good-sized, sturdy shoot that's easy to use for projects that require observation of the plant's later growth. Pea seeds are also dependable growers and look like a vegetable that children know. A little harder to handle than beans, they're still a good option and germinate in 7 to 10 days.
Flowers Also Work
Science projects don't often include flower growing because the seeds are usually very small. But they can be a good option if you choose carefully. For example, marigold seeds are relatively large and super-fast, only needing 5 to 7 days to germinate. Other good choices include zinnia, poppy, morning glory and cosmos, all germinating in 7 to 10 days.
After selecting seeds for your project, take a few easy steps to speed up germination. Gently scratch the surface of the seed on sandpaper – called scarification – and then soak the seed in warm water overnight. This helps speed water absorption. Once you plant your seeds, keep them evenly watered and in a warm spot to continue germination.
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images