Sprouting and Microgreening with Mucilaginous Seeds

Jordan Freytag + photo

Jordan Freytag

Jun 28
3 min read
bubble 4
Basil Seeds

Some of you may have been sprouting and/or microgreening for some time and come across seeds that react different to water than other seeds. They get sticky and take longer to germ, making it disheartening if you haven’t dealt with these kinds of seeds before. They are called mucilaginous seeds and there are methods to dealing with their sometimes-obscure germination method.

Here are a list of mucilaginous seeds:

  • Brown Mustard
  • Arugula
  • Chia
  • Basil
  • Curled Cress

Mucilaginous seeds are simply seeds whose hull forms a gel sack around itself when exposed to water. This is most likely a result of their native climate. For example, Chia is native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala, places where drought is a common occurrence. The gel sack that forms around chia, and other mucilaginous seeds, is a survival mechanism to keep the seed hydrated in times when water is scarce, giving each seed the chance to grow and thrive.

example of chia seeds reacting to water(Figure 1) Chia seeds, shown here dry and wet

Mucilaginous seeds are some of the most difficult seeds to sprout. Traditional wet-based methods of sprouting tend to lead to over-saturation which can lead to mold and rot. Sprouting these seeds may require you to use the dry sprouting method and/or mix seeds with another non-mucilaginous seed if using a traditional wet method of sprouting, such as the jar or tray method.

example of mucilaginous seeds in a dry sprouter(Figure 2) Dry Sprouting Brown Mustard

Mucilaginous seeds fall somewhere between sprouting and microgreening because, although they are grown primarily using a water-based method, they are required to grow for a longer period of time, therefore, making them eatable by the stage one would normally label a microgreen. Dry sprouting is the most common and efficient way to sprout mucilaginous seeds.

example of mucilaginous seeds in a dry sprouter(Figure 3) Grown Chia

Dry sprouting uses terra cotta to transfer moisture to the mucilaginous seeds in small increments. What happens when using a terra cotta sprouter or saucer, it soaks up the water through the tiny holes in its surface, and when the mucilaginous seeds rest on the terra cotta, they draw water without becoming over-saturated and forming the gel sack. Basically, the terra cotta simulates the dry conditions that mucilaginous seeds are thought to have originated from, providing just enough water to trigger germination.

Placing the terra cotta sprouter in a small amount of water in a casserole dish for a period of days should yield thin plants that resemble both sprouts and microgreens, whose roots intertwine, creating their own sort-of growth medium.

grown brown mustard sprouts(Figure 4) Grown Brown Mustard

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Joey Marquez

Over the last couple months, I have been interested in Micro-Greens and have started my own research to why micro greens are beneficial. Now I see how beneficial they can be with the amount of nutrients they contain, as well as the small amount of space they occupy while harvesting. I am a senior taking a sustainable ag class looking to learn more about cultivation and being sustainable. I am working to find out how micro greens are most beneficial and sustainable for our communities. Im very interested in knowing what are more ways that microgreens can be sustainable and beneficial for communities?

Sayoko Kuwahara

VERY useful information!! Thank you. When I started arugula in the same mason jar method, I was startled by slimy seeds next day.

Trina Nelson

Thanks for sharing the article. When you harvest these, do you eat the ‘root’ or have to cut them like microgreens? Thanks.


Hello. I keep seeing terracotta sprouting trays on you website. Do you sell these?

  1. 10 Natives of the Southwest USA for Pest ControlMexican Hat Flower Meadow

    10 Natives of the Southwest USA for Pest Control

    Written By Lara Wadsworth The Southwestern United States is a region incredibly unique to the rest of the country. The hot, dry weather can be challenging for plants and animals to thrive without additional help. That is why gardening with natives can ...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    7 min read
    bubble 0
  2. Spring Into Action - Celebrating Earth DayEarth from space

    Spring Into Action - Celebrating Earth Day

    Written By Chelsea Hafer Spring is quickly arriving, and that means that Earth Day is near! Earth Day is the perfect occasion to appreciate our wonderful planet and all that it does for us and think of ways you can give back to it. In this blog post, w...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    4 min read
    bubble 0
  3. Everything You Need To Know About Rain Gardensnigella flower with raindrops

    Everything You Need To Know About Rain Gardens

    Written By Lara Wadsworth Rain gardens are quickly gaining popularity for their perfect marriage of utility and beauty. What simply looks like a beautifully landscaped garden is actually a native habitat that serves as a storm drain and water sponge. B...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    5 min read
    bubble 1
  4. Northeastern Natives for Attracting Beneficial Insectsyarrow meadow

    Northeastern Natives for Attracting Beneficial Insects

    Written By Lara Wadsworth The Northeastern United States is rich with American history, but did you also know that it is rich in plant biodiversity? Nature has learned through time how to work in harmony with the various species that attempt to thrive....

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    6 min read
    bubble 1