The effect of saltwater on the germination of seeds
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The Effect of Saltwater on the Germination of Seeds. A Research Project Conducted by Andy Herrmann Seeds are placed in water with different amounts of salt to germinate. Abstract.

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The effect of saltwater on the germination of seeds

The Effect of Saltwater on the Germination of Seeds

A Research Project

Conducted by Andy Herrmann

Seeds are placed in water with different amounts of salt to germinate.


This study concerned the effects of varying amounts of salt in the water that seeds were placed in to germinate on the amount of germination of the seeds. The researcher chose Phaseoluslunatus, a bean known as the lima bean, for the experimentation. Thirty-two beans were placed in thirty-two cups, which were placed on four trays, setting it up so that eight beans were on each tray. 4800 ml of water were placed in four bowls, with varying amounts (0 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg) of salt mixed into each. No results were recorded in any of the groups, which may be due to the cold time of year, or to the possibility of the seeds being dead already.

Review of literature
Review of Literature

Germination- the process of a plant beginning to sprout shoots after a period of time

Salinity- amount of salt

The amount of salt in the world’s oceans is increasing, so it will be important to know if salt in water will still allow plants to grow. This experiment may answer this question.

Research question problem statement hypothesis
Research Question, Problem Statement, Hypothesis

Do seeds germinate better(meaning with higher quality of sprouts) in water with more or less salt?

Germination of seeds is the first, and perhaps most important, step in plant growing. Seeds do not need to be in soil for this to happen, however. They can be in water alone, and they will still germinate. Once they have germinated, then they should be placed in soil. The amount of salt and other pollutants in water is increasingly worsening. Does salt have any effect on seed germination?

If eight seeds are put into their own small plastic cups four times (once with no salt added to the water, once with 2 tablespoons [approximately 10mg] of salt added to the water, once with 4 tablespoons added, once with 8 tablespoons added), then the seeds with no salt added will have the best quality of germination and sprouts, because the salt isn’t beneficial in plants.

Experimental design
Experimental Design

  • Materials:

    • Thirty-two plastic cups in which to put the seeds

    • 4800 ml of water, in four containers

    • Thirty-two lima bean plant seeds

    • Four cookie sheets, or some other kind of tray to put the seeds on

    • Ruler that measures in cm (to measure the sprouts)

    • 140 mg of sea salt

    • Four eyedroppers

  • Setup:

  • Four trays (groups) each have eight small, plastic cups on them. Inside each cup, there is one lima bean seed, along with ten ml (about two tablespoons) of water. All the water in each group comes from its own “base.” All four trays are placed in the same warm place, ideally at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Each group’s water base has a different amount of salt added into it. One group has no salt, another has ten mg, the third has twenty mg, and the last has 40 mg mixed into it. The groups are checked every twelve hours, for germination of the seeds.

Material pic and setup pic
Material Pic and Setup Pic


  • Variables:

    • Control: Water with no salt added.

    • Independent: The amount of salt added to the water.

    • Dependent: The quality of life of the sprouts from the seed (yellow and sickly versus green and healthy).

    • Constants:

      • Amount of sunlight

      • Amount of water given to each seed

      • Area that the seeds are placed in


  • Procedure:

  • Add 2 tablespoons of salt to one container of water, 4 tablespoons to another, 8 to another, and leave one container saltless.

  • Stir until salt is fully dissolved in each container. Rinse tablespoon between each stirring.

  • Place each seed into its own small plastic cup.

  • Put three tablespoons of the type of treated water into each cup of the certain group.

  • Place all seeds in a place where they will have the same surrounding temperature.

  • Leave it for twelve hours.

  • Measure the progress of the seed, if any, at the same time the next day.

  • Add five drops of each kind of the treated water to their respective seeds.

  • Repeat steps 7-9 five times.

No pictures
No Pictures

There were no pictures taken, because there were no changes, and, therefore, no data.

Results and discussion
Results and Discussion

There was no growth displayed by any of the seeds in any of the four groups.

There is no data to discuss, because there was no growth.

Data analysis
Data Analysis

  • The first possible explanation for the lack of results in the experiment is the cold temperatures typical of December.

  • Another possible explanation could be that all the seeds were already dead, but the first is most likely.

Conclusion and future studies
Conclusion and Future Studies

  • Conclusion

  • There were no results whatsoever in any of the groups. It is uncertain if the cause was simply the environment being too cold, or if the seeds were all just not meant to grow. The hypothesis cannot be accepted, or, at least, not at this time.

  • Future Studies

  • In the future, in order to find out if the experiment will work, an experimenter might try the exact same procedure at a warmer time of year than winter. Also, the experimenter could try other types of seeds alongside the lima beans, to see if the other types can germinate too. If no changes are observed after those changes, the experimenter might up the amount of salt in each group, except for the control, which is to remain saltless.


  • The experimenter would like to issue thanks to:

    • His parents, for moral, financial, and all other kinds of support.

    • His Honors Biology teacher, for advice along the way, and just overall helpful stuff all through the time period.

    • Family Tree Nursery, for having lima beans in December. Not many people do that.


Vaughton, Glenda, and Mike Ramsey. "RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SEED MASS, SEED NUTRIENTS, AND SEEDLING GROWTH IN BANKSIA CUNNINGHAMII (PROTEACEAE)." International Journal of Plant Sciences 162.3 (May 2001): 599. General OneFile. Gale. Shawnee Mission Kansas School District. 22 Nov. 2009 <>

Dardick, Karen. "Success with seeds: starting plants from seed makes economic sense and separates the serious gardeners from the novices. (Beyond basics: topics for the advanced gardener)." Flower & Garden Magazine 46.1 (Feb 2002): 64(1). General OneFile. Gale. Shawnee Mission Kansas School District. 22 Nov. 2009 <>.

Allen, A., Balschweid, M., Hammond, P., Henderson, B., Johnson, P., Kite, A., et al. (2004). Buried Alive! An Investigation of Plant Dormancy. Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, 40(4), 3-10. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Jafarzadeh, Ali Asghar, and Nasser Aliasgharzad. "Salinity and salt composition effects on seed germination and root length of four sugar beet cultivars." Biologia 62.5 (Oct 2007): 562(3). Academic OneFile. Gale. Shawnee Mission Kansas School District. 23 Nov. 2009 <>