We’ve all heard the age old wisdom that claims that any floating seeds are dead and not worth trying to germinate. This year, after chucking my seeds into water to find a whole lot of floaters I decided to put it to the test.

The Process

Seeing as this blog is all about pepper plants, I’m sure it’s no big surprise that I’m using chilli seeds for the test.

Step One:
All the seeds were put into cups of room temperature water then given a quick stir to help encourage them to sink.

Seeds During Float Test

Step Two:

After 30 minutes the seeds were scooped out carefully to keep the floaters and sinkers separate.

Separating Floating and Non Floating Seeds

The seeds were then laid out on moist paper towels, folded over and placed in labelled ziplock bags. Floaters in one, sinkers in another.

Step Three: 

The ziplocks were kept in a warm spot and checked daily for signs of germination.

Step Four:

Germinated seeds were potted up into soil.

The Results

It’s a myth! There was good germination rates from the floating seeds and the sinking seeds across all varieties.

Results of Germination Float Test

Some of the seeds I chucked in were chipped, broken or discoloured and some of those germinated too.


The float test isn’t a good way to tell if your chilli seeds will germinate. The best way to test for germination that I know of is the paper towel method.

But, maybe the float test works for other types of seeds…

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  1. Friz January 1, 2022 at 11:53 pm

    Thank you for doing the research

  2. anonymous January 19, 2022 at 4:00 am

    You are supposed to soak them for more than 8 hours, not just half hour.

  3. scott July 15, 2022 at 8:03 am

    Interesting test, we have been checking some fresh seeds from pods that we harvest for sometime now, it seems the the longer the pod/seeds have dried on the plant the more likely that they will float which sort of makes sense and we get good germination results from both sinkers and floaters.


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