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Adding Value To The Business of Cropping

Stages of germination

Learning Intentions:

    Students will be able to:
  • make observations of the stages of germination and early growth of a bean seed
  • name the parts of a seedling and their roles 
  • create accurate labelled line drawings of the stages.

What You Will Need:

  • Broad bean seeds
  • Clear plastic drinking cups or glass jars
  • Paper towels
  • Marker pens
  • Water
  • Cardboard
  • Magnifying glass (optional).

What to do

Setting up

  1. Label your drinking cup with your name and the date.
  2. Fold a paper towel and position it all the way around the inside of the cup.
    Stages in setting up the bean seeds.

  3. Place several screwed up paper towels inside the cup.
  4. Slide two or three broad bean seeds down the inside edge of the cup. Position them near the top and so they can be seen from the outside. 
  5. Pour water on the paper towels so they become damp, then place a piece of cardboard on the top of the cup to keep the moisture in. Leave indoors near a window but not in full sunlight.
  6. If dry, water the paper towels. Remove the cardboard when the shoots appear.

Observations and drawings:

  1. Record observations of what happens to the seeds every couple of days.
  2. Draw and label what a seed or seedling looks like at each main stage of growth.
  3. Make an ordered list of these steps describing what happens first, second and so on. Find out why things happen in this order.
  4. When a seedling has formed some leaves, gently remove it from the cup and inspect all the parts. A magnifying glass is helpful.
  5. Do a final labelled drawing or take a picture of the whole seedling with the roots spread out.
  6. Choose a seedling to plant in a freshly prepared pot containing potting mix, or in a sheltered garden (during a warm season). It may need extra protection while it hardens to outside conditions. Use a stick or pole to support it as it gets taller.

Using your knowledge

Set up similar investigations using other types of seeds. Are the germination stages always the same?

Hints and tips

  • Broad bean seeds are good at germinating in cool conditions.
  • Climbing beans can be used during the warmer months of spring and summer.

Related resources

What comes next?

Bean germination masters

Bean germination poster