Herb and Vegetable Seed Sowing Guide

Seeds require the right conditions or they will fail to germinate or germinate at a greatly reduced rate. Several factors trigger germination including soil temperature, moisture, soaking, stratification or scarification. 

Germination is triggered by soil temperature, soil depth, moisture and some seeds require stratification which is a period of chilling prior to sowing. This table is a quick and easy guide to sowing herb and vegetable seeds.

Light: Some seeds require sunlight to germinate, which has been listed as ‘surface’. Sprinkle the seeds on the surface, but gently push them down so that they don’t disperse in the wind.

Light covering: When sowing seeds that require a light covering of soil, add some soil or potting mix to an old kitchen sieve and gently sprinkle over the seeds.

  • Stratification: A period of cold prior to sowing.
  • Scarification: Gently weakening the thick, outer shell of certain seeds.

I haven’t included when each type of seed should be sowed in this article because this varies depending on location. Some seedlings are frost tender, and should only be planted once the risk of frost has passed. For those of us in warmer climates such as Australia, we can sow seeds much earlier.

º C

º F

Depth

Germination

Treatment

Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) 21 – 24 70 – 75 5 mm 5 – 20 days Scarification
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) 16 – 22 60 – 71 3 mm 7 – 20 days No
Armenian cucumber
(Cucumis melo var. flexuosus(
10 – 15 50 – 60 12 mm 7 – 20 days No
Artichoke
(Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)
15 – 26 60 – 80 6 mm 15 – 25 days Stratification
Aspagagus
(Asparagus officinalis)
23 – 27 73 – 82 5 mm 2 – 8 weeks Stratification/Soak
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) 21 – 23 70 – 73 5 mm 10 – 14 days No
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) 10 – 29 50 – 85 2.5 mm 5 – 8 days No
Bergamot (Monarda didyma) 15 – 21 60 – 70 Surface 7 – 14 days No
Blue skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) 10 – 15 6 mm Stratification
Bok choy (Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis) 4 – 23 40 – 75 3 mm 6 – 10 days No
Borage (Borago officinalis) 21 – 23 70 – 73 6 mm 7 – 14 days Stratification
Borlotti bean (Phaseolus
vulgaris)
50 – 60 2 cm 7 – 10 days Stratification/scarification
Broad bean (Vicia faba) 12 – 18 53 – 65 5 cm 10 – 14 days Stratification/scarification
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) 24 – 26 75 – 80 7 mm 3 – 7 days No
Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera) 7 – 26 45 – 80 12 mm 7 – 12 days No
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) 23 – 26 75 – 80 5 mm 4 – 10 days No
Cape gooseberry  (Physalis peruviana) 18 – 26 65 – 80 Surface 7 – 21 days No
Capsicum (Capsicum annuum) 23 – 26 75 – 80 4 mm 14 – 18 days No
Carrot (Daucus carota) 7 – 30 45 – 85 5 mm 14 – 21 days Soak
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) 23 – 26 75 – 80 5 mm 7 – 14 days No
Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) 21 – 24 70 – 75 6 mm 14 – 21 days No
Celery (Apium graveolens) 15 – 18 60 – 65 2 mm 14 – 21 days No
Chicory radicchio (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum) 10 – 22 50 – 72 5 mm 4 – 7 days No
Chinese cabbage
(Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis)
21 – 25 70 – 77 6 mm 10 – 21 days No
Chilli (Capsicum spp.) 25 – 28 77 – 82 5 mm 7 – 10 days No
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) 15 – 20 59 – 68 5 mm 10 – 14 days No
Climbing bean (Phaseolus coccineus) 18 – 26 65 – 80 2.5 cm 6 – 14 days Stratification/scarification
Comfrey (Symphytum spp.) 10 – 15 50 – 60 5 mm 21 – 28 days Stratification
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) 12 – 20 55 – 68 5 mm 7 – 10 days Soak
Corn (Zea mays) 18 – 29 65 – 85 25 mm 7 – 10 days Soak
Cress (Lepidium sativum) 7 – 10 45 – 50 5 mm 7 – 14 days No
Cucamelon (Melothria scabra) 22 – 24 71 – 75 6 mm 14 – 21 days No
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) 23 – 35 75 – 95 25 mm 3 – 10 days No
Dill (Anethum graveolens) 15 – 23 60 – 75 25 mm 10 – 14 days Stratification
Eggplant (Solanum melongena} 22 – 25 71 – 77 6 mm 7 – 12 days No
Endive (Cichorium endivia) 15 – 20 60 – 68 25 mm 14 – 18 days No
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) 15 – 21 60 – 70 6 mm 10 – 14 days Stratification
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) 18 – 20 65 – 68 6 mm 7 – 10 days No
Kale (Brassica oleracea
var. sabellica)
7 – 23 45 – 75 10 mm 6 – 10 days No
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes) 10 – 29 50 – 85 10 mm 3 – 10 days No
Leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum) 21 – 29 70 – 85 5 mm 10 – 14 days No
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) 18 – 21 65 – 70 5 mm 7 – 14 days Stratification/Scarification
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) 21 – 23 70 – 75 5 mm 10 – 16 days No
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) 21 – 23 70 – 75 3 mm 7 – 10 days No
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis) 18 – 21 60 – 65 5 mm 14 – 21 days Stratification/Scarification
Luffa (Luffa aegyptiaca) 26 – 29 80 – 85 5 mm 21 – 25 days No
Mint (Mentha spp.) 22 – 24 72 – 75 6 mm 10 – 16 days No
Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. Laciniifolia) 7 – 29 45 – 85 6 mm 5 – 14 days No
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) 18 – 24 65 – 75 6 mm 7 – 21 days Stratification
Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) 21 – 24 70 – 75 5 mm 10 – 16 days Stratification
Mustard (Brassica nigra) 12 – 18 55 – 65 10 mm 7 – 10 days No
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) 15 – 20 60 – 68 10 mm 7 – 12 days Scarification/Soak
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) 15 – 18 60 – 65 20 mm 3 – 10 days Scarification
Onion (Allium cepa) 22 – 24 72 – 75 5 mm 6 – 12 days No
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) 18 – 21 65 – 70 5 mm 10 – 21 days Stratification
Curly parsley
Petroselinum crispum
18 – 21 65 – 70 3 mm 7 – 21 days No
Continental parsley
(
Petroselinum
crispum neapolitanum)
21 – 23 70 – 75 5 mm 14 – 28 days No
Parsnip
(Pastinaca sativa)
10 – 21 50 – 70 6 mm 14 – 28 days No
Pea (Pisum sativum) 18 – 21 65 – 70 25 mm 7 – 14 days Scarification/Soak
Pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.) 25 – 35 68 – 95 20 mm 7 – 14 days No
Radish (Raphanus sativus) 12 – 23 55 – 75 5 mm 5 – 7 days Scarification
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) 20 – 23 68 – 73 12 mm 7 – 14 days Soak
Rocket (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa) 15 – 20 60 – 68 5 mm 7 – 14 days No
Rockmelon (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis) 28 – 30 82 – 86 20 mm 7 – 10 days No
Rosella (Platycercus
caledonicus brownii
)
26 – 29 80 – 85 10 mm 10 – 14 days No
Rosemary
(Salvia rosmarinus)
21 – 26 70 – 80 6 mm 14 – 28 days Stratification
Sage (Salvia officinalis) 18 – 21 65 – 70 3 mm 10 – 14 days Stratification
Saint John’s wort
(Hypericum perforatum)
21 – 23 70 – 75 Surface 10 – 20 days Stratification
Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) 21 – 23 70 – 75 2 mm 14 – 21 days Stratification
Silver beet
(Beta vulgaris var. cicla)
10 – 30 50 – 86 15 mm 5 – 10 days No
Savory (Satureja hortensis) 18 – 21 65 – 70 3 mm 7 – 14 days No
Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) 18 – 21 65 – 70 3 mm 14 – 21 days No
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) 20 – 22 68 – 71 12 mm 7 – 21 days No
Spaghetti squash
(Cucurbita pepo)
25 – 35 77 – 95 20 mm 7 – 14 days No
Spinach
(Spinacia oleracea)
7 – 20 45 – 68 15 mm 5 – 7 days No
Spring onion
(Allium fistulosum)
23 – 25 73 – 77 5 mm 7 – 14 days No
Squash (Cucurbita spp.) 23 – 26 75 – 85 2 cm 7 – 10 days Nick
Swede (Brassica napus) 16 – 30 60 – 86 20 mm 4 – 10 days No
Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) 13 – 18 55 – 65 3 mm 2 – 8 weeks Stratification
Tarragon (Artemisia
dracunculus)
10 – 25 50 – 77 Surface 4 – 14 days No
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) 18 – 21 65 – 70 3 mm 14 – 21 days Stratification
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) 18 – 29 65 – 85 3 mm 6 – 8 days Scarification/Soak
Turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa) 18 – 29 65 – 85 10 mm 7 – 10 days No
Valarian (Valeriana officinalis) 16 – 18 60 – 65 10 mm 7 – 10 days Stratification
Verbena
(Verbena officinalis)
20 – 26 68 – 80 Surface 14 – 90 days Stratification
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) 26 – 29 80 – 85 25 mm 4 – 12 days Scarification/Soak
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) 15 – 20 59 – 68 5 mm 7 – 10 days Stratification
Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) 25 – 35 77 – 95 10 mm 7 – 14 days No