Seed Germination: Conditions and Steps

Noura Al Bistami, Amanda Robb, Christianlly Cena
  • Author
    Noura Al Bistami

    Noura has completed her MSc in Neuroscience from King's College London after receiving her BA in Psychology from the American University of Beirut. She is currently pursuing her career in Neuroscience, and has taught subjects pertaining to psychology, english literature, history, neuroscience, and neurobiology.

  • Instructor
    Amanda Robb

    Amanda has taught high school science for over 10 years. She has a Master's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Tufts Medical School and a Master's of Teaching from Simmons College. She is also certified in secondary special education, biology, and physics in Massachusetts.

  • Expert Contributor
    Christianlly Cena

    Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

What is seed germination? Learn the definition, conditions, and processes of seed germination. Also, see the steps of seed germination and factors affecting them. Updated: 07/24/2021

Table of Contents



Germination is the process that a seed or a spore goes through in order to sprout, and there are several factors that could initiate germination, including:

  • Water absorption
  • Time passage
  • Exposure of light
  • Oxygen
  • Changes in temperature

In plants, germination occurs when the seed itself starts to sprout and become a seedling, which is a very young plant.


A seed is a fertilized and ripe ovule that contains the young, embryonic plant, in addition to other essential components. Ultimately, seeds are how plants reproduce, and certain plants correspond to a larger family denoted as spermatophytes. Depending on the kind of plant, the seed will look different structurally but behave similarly across all common types of spermatophytes. Some examples of seeds include:

  • Almonds
  • Sunflowers
  • Peas
  • Avocado

Structurally, seeds generally contain an embryo and a seed coat, which serves to protect the embryo within.

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  • 0:00 How Do Plants Reproduce?
  • 0:28 Seed Formation
  • 1:07 Seed Germination
  • 1:55 Influencing Factors
  • 3:15 Some Examples
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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A labeled structural diagram of an avocado seed

Seed, avocado seed, germination, seed structure, seed diagram

Process of Seed Germination

Seed Formation

In order for the seed to be formed, which contains a fully matured and fertilized embryo, the initial seed must come to contact with pollen. In plants, the reproductive components consist of pollen and the ovaries, and when ovaries come into contact with pollen, they become fertilized and then develop into what we know as seeds. Pollen is released by male plants, whereas ovaries are possessed by female plants. After fertilization, seeds then store essential nutrients within the shell or coat, which can protect the embryo from any external factors. This is especially important because seeds can then travel via wind or animals and spread.

Seed Germination

After the seed is formed, there are a few factors that could contribute to whether or not the process of germination can initiate. For example, the seed must find a new home within dirt that is favorable for growth. Once covered, several environmental contributors may trigger the process.

Seed germination requires the seed to be covered in dirt, as shown above

seed germination, germination of seeds, plant

The process of germination corresponds to the completion of three essential steps:

  • Imbibition
  • Respiration
  • Cell-Division of Cells

Steps of Seed Germination


At the first stage of seed germination, imbibition corresponds to the absorption of water. In doing so, the seed (which was previously dry) grows due to rehydration. This growth, or swelling, results in the rupturing of the protective coat surrounding the embryo. Effectively, the coat is ruptured and this allows for the radicle to emerge as the primary root of the new plant. This is necessary so the growth of the new plant can begin.


The rehydration process made possible via imbibition results in the plant resuming metabolic activity, which at that stage was still anaerobic since the energy was not provided by oxygen, but primarily by glycolysis. Once oxygen is able to enter the seed, reparation becomes aerobic. Some plants can even absorb the oxygen molecules from the water in the initial steps, thus not having to perform anaerobic respiration. Once the radicle emerges from the seed, it does so in order to get access to oxygen above the soil. It is possible to facilitate this stage of germination via ploughing, since doing so may remove the soil just enough for the radicle to breathe.

Cell-Division of Seeds

The final stage of germination corresponds to the division of cells within the seed, and this is due to the seed becoming metabolically active. Due to the aerobic respiration processes, the new plant now has access to energy that may be used for the purpose of cell division. After this, the cells within the embryo become larger and go on to divide further, slowly becoming the seedling.

Conditions for Seed Germination

There are a few conditions that are necessary for seed germination, and they are essential to the process of how a seed grows into a seedling and then into an adult plant.

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  • Activities
  • FAQs

Seed Germination Word Search Activity

This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the definition, process, steps, and factors of seed germination.


For this activity, you'll need a printer to reproduce the following page. Search for and circle or highlight the words that will complete each of the given clues. Afterward, neatly write them in the appropriate blank spaces in the clues.


  1. _____ is a clear liquid that is crucial in all seed germination process.
  2. _____ are globular proteins that trigger the process of seed growth.
  3. _____ is the first step in germination that occurs when water (from the soil) is drawn and absorbed by the seed.
  4. For seeds to develop, they must be triggered by an environmental factor such as _____.
  5. The _____ are the most notable feature of a plant that harvests solar energy for food production.
  6. The movement of a plant towards or away from light is deemed as _____.
  7. Humans utilize the germination process to produce _____.
  8. Radiant energy or _____ is an influencing factor that can either hinder or stimulate the germination process of a plant.
  9. The female organ of a plant, the _____, contains essential components that develop into seeds upon fertilization.
  10. _____ develop from the fertilized ovary of a plant.

Answer Key

  1. Water
  2. Enzymes
  3. Imbibition
  4. Temperature
  5. Leaves
  6. Phototropism
  7. Food
  8. Sunlight
  9. Ovary
  10. Seeds

What causes seeds to germinate?

Favorable conditions pertaining to appropriate levels of sunlight, water, oxygen, and temperature facilitate the process of germination. The first step is water absorption.

What are the 3 stages of germination?

The three stages of seed germination are 1) imbibition, 2) respiration, and 3) cell division. The first stage corresponds to the absorption of water, the second to the resumption of metabolic activity, and the third is important in the formation of the seedling and the young plant.

What is meant by seed germination?

Seed germination refers to the process by which a seed, which is a fertilized plant ovum, effectively sprouts and grows into a baby plant. Germination involves specific conditions and three essential steps.

What is germination in simple words?

Germinate corresponds to the seed's ability to sprout after a period of dormancy due to the exposure of the seed to water and other favorable conditions.

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