Once you get past the gorgeous pictures on the seed packet, be sure to check for the following.
- Species and/or variety name
- Mature height
- Packing date (don’t purchase seeds more than a year old)
- Special planting instructions. Consider if you’ll have room for the full-sized plant.
- Germination rate (should be over 65%)
- Organic and Non-GMO verified
There are tons of seed starting charts which are great for a rough guide. But there are so many factors to consider when planting indoors. You typically start seeds 4-8 weeks before the last frost. But start your seeds too early and you’ll get weak, tall and spindly seedlings; some of which are less likely to survive transplant. Start too late and and your little plants may not be big enough to transplant when the time comes.
So keep track of when you started each type of seed indoors, and write down how each of them did. It’s not a perfect science. You have to experiment with it and it may take a few years to come up with a working schedule. Even if I’m a bit early or a bit late, many of the small plants grow just fine. With vegetables, you have to be careful because you want to make sure you give the plants enough time to grow before harvest. But with flowers, I’m willing to plant later and cross my fingers!
*Seeds need no light for germination and sprouting. When moisture and heat spark activity inside the seed, it sends down roots. After the roots have secured themselves, the seed can now push up into a plant. As soon as the tiny plant breaks through the soil, light is essential.
- Light. Your seedlings like 12-15 hours of light a day. Grow lights are really nice to have, but pricey. I find that my house is very sunny, especially in March and I’ll make do with a sunny window. If it’s warm enough where you live, expose your seeds to a bit of outdoor light. But short intervals at first in a shady spot under a tree. Gradually increase the seeds outdoor exposure to light and sun over the course of a week or several weeks.
- Water. Seedlings require consistently moist soil. Moisture triggers the germination process and softens the hard outer covering of the seed so the sprout can emerge. And if you plan on using a seed starter kit they tend to dry out quickly. Waterlogged soil is just as bad as dry soil. It causes the plants to rot while encouraging pests. It’s always better to water from the bottom up and this rule applies to your full-size plants as well. Make sure the container has drainage holes even if you have to poke them in.
- Heat. Providing bottom heat to your seedlings promotes germination. You can buy a heating mat or 1.) Prop up your plants against a heat vent if you have forced air or even a radiator 2.) You can use a space heater to keep those seedlings warm. But keep a sharp eye on the moisture level of your little plants. Any heat you use will quickly dry the seedlings out.
- Ventilation. Once you’ve noticed that most of your seeds have popped up in the flat it’s time to begin ventilating them. Prop the lid off the tray just a hair so that the seedlings can acclimate to the room. Continue to prop open the lid an inch each day until you’re ready to take the lid off completely. You can even use an oscillating fan on low to spur on ventilation.
Easiest Edible Seeds To Grow Indoors
Easiest Flower Seeds To Grow Indoors (Transplant well)
- Rotisserie chicken cases ~ Love that “greenhouse” dome-top.
- Take out salad containers from McDonald’s ~ it comes with that clear lid.
- Olive Garden takeout containers make perfect little seed starter greenhouses ~ clear lid and all.
I planted in my rotisserie “greenhouse” and plan to break up the tiny plants when the time comes using a butter knife and fingers to gently pull apart the roots.
Don’t cut corners on the soil you use for starting seeds indoors. For just a couple of bucks you can buy a bag of special seed starting potting mix. Seedlings like this lightweight mix formulated with plant food for fast root development.
John Gusswein says
Great tips for helping me start my plants from seeds. Thanks.