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Easy Germination Experiment

In this germination experiment we studied 4 seeds bird mix. We wanted to find out percentage of the seeds in the bird food that able to germinate. Live seeds have more vitamins and less chances to be contaminated with mold spores and bacterias then dead seeds. So one of the experiment purposes was to find if this food is healthy for the birds.

The bird mix contained 4 different seeds in equal proportion. It's main food for the small birds like canary or cockatiel.

The goal of the experiment was to find germination rate and average germination time of each kind of seeds.

Our hypothesis was that the average germination time for different species will be slightly different but similar due to the similar size of the seeds, and they will have similar and pretty high germination rate. We expected each kind of seeds to have germination rate above 50%. We also expected to see normal distribution in germination time.

Seed mix for experiment.
Bird food - mix of 4 seeds, canola, linseed, canary seed and millet.

Experiment setup

We had following constants in our germination experiment: constant moisture, constant lighting conditions, constant temperature, same substrate for each kind of seeds, same amount of tested seeds.

Our variable was seed species.

We used following materials in our experiment:

substrates for mold garden
One hundred seeds of each
species were selected for the test.
Each seed species was assigned to individual plastic container. We put paper towel on the bottom of each container and covered with the black cloth for better visual contrast and observation convenience.

We selected 100 seeds of each kind for simplicity of our calculations. Amount of germinated seeds  becomes our germination rate. Seeds of each species were laid out in appropriate containers in grid-like pattern, 10 seeds in each of 10 lines.

Each container was covered with lid to keep environment moist. Containers were located in well lit room but away from direct sunlight.

substrates for mold garden
Experiment setup

We checked containers each 24 hours, counted germinated seeds and made table of results. Seed counted as germinated if the root was clearly visible and base of or the whole cotyledons were visible. In the first 3 days no germinated seeds were detected. The only sign on germination process was increased volume of the seeds.  On the 6th day of the experiment no more germinated seeds were found and mold started to appear on the dead seeds. At this time our germination experiment was terminated.

substrates for mold garden
Result for the linseed

substrates for mold garden
Result for canola.


Results of the experiment available in the tables 1 and 2.

No canary seeds and millet seeds germinated in 6 days period. Mold signs on the seeds indicated that they were dead. It proved wrong our hypothesis that all seeds in the mix will have similar germination rate.

Linseed show 89% germination rate and Canola Seed 58% germination rate in given conditions.

Majority of the seeds germinated over short period of time of few hours. Our sampling rate of 24 hours made it hard to see the distribution of germination rate over time. From our data we can make conclusion that most of the seeds germinate at almost the same time followed by the few weaker seeds that catching up in the next 2 days.

Part of our hypothesis that seeds will have similar germination time because they have similar size proved correct by available data from live seeds.

Results of the test
Table 1. Results of the germination experiment.

Results graph
Table 2. Germination graph.

We found weighted average  germination time for Linseeds and Canola seeds by formula:

(X1*W1 + X2*W2 + X3*W3)/W1+W2+W3

where X is the sample time (in days) and W is the amount of seeds germinated at that day.

Linseed average germination time:

(3*83 + 4*2 + 4*5)/89 = 3.112 days

Canola seed average germination time:

(3*46 + 7*4 + 5*5)/58 = 3.293 days.


4 seed bird mix contains more then 50% of dead seeds. We don't know why seeds are dead. That could be the result of pre-sale preparation of the mix or because mix was kept longer then it supposed to. We believe it may not provide enough vitamins for the birds kept in a cage and is not a very healthy food. Birds fed with this type of food will require additional vitamin supplements.

Using our data we calculated weighted average germination time for Linseed and Canola seed which is 3.112 days and 3.293 day respectively. As we suggested in our hypothesis germination time for this seeds is very similar.

Important note. This experiment is NOT a real science fair project experiment. It's rather  simple example of science experiment structure with goal, hypothesis, method, data and discussion of the  results. It also shows that hypothesis is not always and should not always be proved correct.

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