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Size vs. Depth: The Relationship Between the Size of a Seed and Its Ideal Planting Depth

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Plants have evolved many clever mechanisms to ensure that their seeds will wait for appropriate conditions before sprouting. Some may only germinate after a fire, others only after going through a cold spell. This project explores one important variable among many that determine the ideal conditions for seed germination.


Areas of Science
Time Required
Very Long (1+ months)
Material Availability
Readily available
Low ($20 - $50)


To find if the size of the seed determines the ideal planting depth.


You may think planting seeds is as simple as putting them in the ground and giving them water. But did you realize that there are a number of different types of seeds that require different conditions to grow? Some seeds may need light to grow, some may need darkness, and some may even need to be charred by fire. So with all these variations in the ideal conditions to stimulate seed germination, how does seed size impact the process of germination? Do certain size seeds need special conditions? In this science fair project, you will investigate how the size of the seed affects how well it germinates and grows when planted at different depths.

Terms and Concepts

To understand the relationship between planting depth and seed size, you should have solid understanding of the seed germination process, the structure of a seed, and the factors that break dormancy for different size seeds.


  • Gibson, L. and Mullen, R. (2000). Planting Depth. Iowa State University Agronomy Department. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  • Texas A&M University. (n.d.). Seed Germination. Aggie Horticulture. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  • Hangarter, R. (n.d.). Seed Germination. Plants-In-Motion. Retrieved February 28, 2012.

Materials and Equipment

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Experimental Procedure

  1. Select the types of legume seeds you will be using for the experiment.
  2. For each seed type, record the weight, size, and recommended planting depth in your lab notebook.
  3. For each seed type, determine the planting depths that you will use for this experiment. Here is a recommendation for determining the different depths:
    1. Depth 1: Recommended planting depth.
    2. Depth 2: Lay the seeds on the surface of the dirt.
    3. Depth 3: Two times the recommended planting depth (this will be your deepest seed).
    4. Depth 4: Halfway between the surface and the recommended planting depth.
    5. Depth 5: Halfway between the recommended planting depth and the deepest seed (which is twice the recommended planting depth).
  4. For each seed type, plant the seed in a pot at each of the depths. (So if you are using six different types of seeds, you will have 30 pots, one for each seed type at each depth).
  5. You should repeat this experiment at least twice to ensure you get enough data for each seed type at each of the depths.
  6. After about 17 days, measure and record the heights of each of the plants.
  7. Did you see a correlation between the size of the seed and the planting depth that they grew best at? Did the largest or smallest seeds grow best at the deepest depth? Did the seeds planted at their recommended planting depth do better than the seeds not planted at their recommended depth?
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Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.


Is there a relationship between seed size and the amount of light, water, or nutrients needed to germinate the seeds?


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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Size vs. Depth: The Relationship Between the Size of a Seed and Its Ideal Planting Depth." Science Buddies, 23 June 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/PlantBio_p005/plant-biology/seed-size-planting-depth. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, June 23). Size vs. Depth: The Relationship Between the Size of a Seed and Its Ideal Planting Depth. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/PlantBio_p005/plant-biology/seed-size-planting-depth

Last edit date: 2020-06-23
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