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Can You Just Scatter Seeds: What you Need to Know and Do

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Can you just scatter seeds around your garden or lawn without having to plant them?

If you’ve ever tried to sow some seeds into the ground, then you’ll know that they don’t always take root immediately. Sometimes they don’t even sprout at all! This happens because the soil isn’t ready for planting.

You can try scattering seeds over bare soil, but there are some things you should consider before just throwing the seed and hoping for the best. 

In this article, we have outlined the things required for successful seed germination and the simple things you can do to ensure there is a high germination success rate when scattering seeds over bare soil.

Will Seeds Germinate If They Are Scattered?

Seeds Germinating

The process by which seeds, spores, or other regenerative organisms remain dormant for a period of time is called germination. 

Water retention, duration, frost, heating, oxygen availability, and exposure to light can all contribute to the onset of the cycle. 

During seed germination, water is absorbed by the immature body, causing rehydration and reversal. 

Some seeds, such as short-lived annuals, are dormant for short periods. 

Once the seeds germinate and the embryos disperse, they begin to grow again in favorable environmental conditions, such as adequate water, oxygen temperature, and availability.

What It Takes For Seeds to Germinate?

Seed Germination

Some seeds, too, require enough lighting. For example, some seeds germinate better under bright light, while others must remain dark to germinate. 

Water and oxygen are taken in via the seed coat when it is exposed to the right circumstances. 

From the surface, seeds may appear to be dormant, and it’s easy to think that nothing is happening within. 

Experiments have shown that parts of the tissues inside seeds stay alive, even performing fundamental metabolic activities like cellular respiration. 

In other words, seeds require little quantities of stored energy to stay alive while ‘waiting’ for favorable conditions to start growing.

5 Requirements for Seed Germination


Watering Plants

Imbibition is the process by which most seeds absorb water in order to germinate.  Water hydrates and activates enzymes in the seed. 

As a result, the seed starts to release energy for development from its food storage causes pressure to build up in the cells of the embryo, forcing them to expand. 

The seed coat typically breaks open as a result of this.


Good soil aeration

Seeds require oxygen to generate energy for germination and development. The embryo obtains energy by consuming its stored nourishment. 

This is accomplished by a process known as aerobic respiration, which involves a sequence of events in which energy is generated from glucose while utilizing oxygen. 

During aerobic respiration, the following happens: CO2 and H2O are created as waste, and energy is released as glucose and oxygen are used up.

Correct temperature

How to freeze seeds

Seeds require the proper temperature, which varies based on the plant type and surroundings. 

Some people require temperature changes. Some require extremely frigid temperatures for several weeks or even months before germinating at a warmer temperature. 

This guarantees that seeds grown in cold climates, for example, do not germinate until after the winter. 

What about light, you may be thinking. Most seeds do not require light to germinate, but the seedling will require it later to perform photosynthesis for energy once the seed’s nutritional reserves have been depleted.

Fertile Soil

Soil Conditions

Fertile soil matters a lot in the germination process of the seeds because the seeds may 

Fertile soil provides nutrients for seeds to grow into plants. Without these nutrients, seeds will not sprout or grow roots.

The seed can sustain itself up to the point where it germinates, depending heavily on the soil around it to provide nutrients to grow.

If there is no fertile soil around, then the seeds won’t germinate.


Time is the main factor in the germination process. It takes time to germinate seeds.

Depending on the variety of your plants, it may take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks for the first sign of a shoot emerging from the seed. 

This period varies depending on the temperature and humidity levels, so the soil around the seeds should be kept slightly moist.

Soil Prep for Scattering Seeds

soil preparation

Soil preparation is one of the most important parts of growing seeds as they require light, air, moisture, and nutrients to germinate and grow strong stems and leaves.

They need room to stretch their roots around, too.

Weed control is another essential part of the planting and spreading seeds.

You’ll want to keep weeds away from your seedlings while they’re still small, because once weeds take over, it becomes very difficult to remove them later.

Removing weeds now will give your wildflowers a fighting chance to succeed.

In addition, compost should be mixed into the soil to provide nutrient for the upcoming plants. It also helps break up the soil into smaller pieces.

Compost is usually sold as a powder or granules and can be purchased at garden centers and nurseries. You can make your own if you don’t want to buy compost.

Lastly, The soil should be lightly tilled. This is to allow the seeds to fit into the small nooks when they are scattered so they are protected from direct sunlight and predators.

Light tilling can be done by use of a grass rake to gently skim the top of the soil before the seeds are scattered.

What Type of Plant Seeds can be Scattered?

Freezing Seeds before planting (1)


Annuals are easy to grow and require little maintenance once they’re established. They’re also very forgiving so scattering annuals can be a good idea because they are resilient.

Annuals flower abundantly throughout the growing season. And best of all, they often self-seed and grow into new plants. They’re easy to grow and they usually return to their original location each spring.

Some of the best self-seeding flowers are

  • Alyssum
  • Sunflower 
  • Sweet Pea
  • California poppy
  • Bachelor Buttons or Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus),
  • Pansy 
  • Zinnia
  • Calendula
  • Lupine
  • Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp),
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus),
  • Forget-me-not

Garden Plants:

Garden plant seeds can also be scattered over the soil. The plants, however, have to be chosen carefully because spacing can become an issue when they start to grow.

Here is a list of vegetable plants that can be grown by scattering or broadcasting seeds over the soil.

  • carrots,
  • dill,
  • beets,
  • arugula,
  • turnips,
  • radish,
  • lettuce 

These vegetable plants can be scattered because they will be fine even if they grow close together.

When scattering vegetable seeds, applying a layer of compost, not too thick, over the scattered seeds works well. The compost provides nutrients and protection for the germinating seeds.

The compost does not have to be spread thick, just a thin layer. Sometimes, some of the seeds will be visible. However, the majority of them will be covered and protected.

Another trick is to mulch the area where the seeds are scattered, which also provides shelter for the seeds. Mulch is an alternative to compost if you don’t have any.

Cover up the seeds or work the seeds into the soil?

If you want to plant a garden, it’s important to prepare the ground properly. A good way to do this is to cover the seeds with soil. But how much does it take?

The answer depends on where you live and what type of seed you are planting. In colder climates, covering the seeds with soil is best because the cold weather helps keep moisture in the soil.

However, covering the seeds with dirt isn’t necessary on warmer days. You just need to make sure there is enough water.

In most cases, you won’t need to work the seeds into the ground either. Just lay them down on the surface, and agitation created from watering will help cover them with some degree of soil.

Will grass seed germinate on top of the soil?

Grass seeds are one of the most popular gardening products sold online today. 

Grass will germinate on top of soil but not always. The soil must be watered and kept moist for the seeds to start germinating.

It takes grass seeds from 1 to 2 weeks before the first signs of germination in evident.

During this time, if the grass is not covered by soil or protected, it can be eaten by birds, insects, and other animals that have seeds in their diet.

Although grass seeds are very small, they can be a treat for some.

Can You Put More than One Seed into a Hole?

Place no more than 3 seeds in each hole. If more than one germinates, cut off the excess in the bottom row.

If you plan to grow vegetables outdoors, you should place the seeds at least 2 inches below the level of direct sunlight. This will help prevent the growth of weeds and conserve moisture.

Although this may seem like a good idea to increase the success rate of seed germination, in the event that all the seeds sprout, there will be competition for nutrients, resulting in lower yields.

In this case, you have to cut off and remove the excess plant.

Will the Sun Affect Seed Germination?

For most plant species, light is not essential for germination as long as there is moisture and nutrients for the young embryo to use. 

On the other hand, some seeds germinate best in mostly shade and some in total darkness, while others reproduce in constant sunlight. 

After germination, light is important for all species, as the first shoots die if they cannot reach the light source.

The Takeaway

  • Seeds need moisture, oxygen, and warmth to germinate.
  • A lack of nutrients can prevent seeds from germinating.
  • Light is needed for photosynthesis.
  • Lightly tilling the soil can help protect the seeds from the elements.
  • Moisture is required for roots to absorb water and nutrients.
  • Warmth promotes root development.
  • Cold temperatures slow the process of germination.
  • Watering is needed after seeding.
  • Covering the seeds with soil is helpful when planting.

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