There are a few key pitfalls gardeners often encounter when trying to grow seeds indoors. Avoiding these can mean the difference between a successful and a failed attempt at growing seedlings.
The first mistake many beginners make is planting seeds in too dry soil. This creates a problem because the seeds won’t germinate and the water will pool on top, never reaching them.
1. Use the Right Containers
Using the right containers is crucial for growing seeds indoors. These containers should be biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.
One of the best types of containers for seed starting are fabric grow bags. These are lightweight, breathable and fold away easily for easy storage when the season is over.
Another great option is clay pots. These are also breathable and have drainage holes.
They are a little bit more expensive to buy initially, but they’re great for large seeds such as peppers or tomatoes. They also allow water to penetrate the soil and not just run off the side of the pots, which can cause some seeds to dry out.
2. Use the Right Soil
Choosing the right soil for growing seeds indoors is an essential step for success. You’ll want a sterile, lightweight, moisture-retaining mix that holds water well.
This can be a delicate balance, but it’s important to never allow the soil to dry out completely. It should also be kept evenly moist throughout germination.
Seeds that are harder to germinate, like morning glory, lupines, and milkweed, can be helped by a seed scarification technique. Scratching the seed’s surface makes it more porous, which means it can absorb water and oxygen easier.
Whether you’re a new gardener or an experienced one, growing seeds can be a rewarding task. Follow these simple tips for growing seeds indoors and you’ll be harvesting fresh produce in no time!
3. Keep the Soil Moisturized
When you start seeds indoors, it’s important to keep the soil moist so that germination happens quickly and easily. Consistent moisture is key for healthy seedlings and avoiding damping-off disease, which kills the young plants if they dry out too much.
A spray bottle or mister works well for watering the medium, and it also helps to create a humidity dome that encourages germination. Be sure to water from the bottom of the container to avoid washing the seeds on the surface of the medium.
Some seeds have a protective coating that prevents water from penetrating them. Scratching this coating with coarse sandpaper can allow water to penetrate the seed, making it easier to germinate.
4. Keep the Light Levels Right
When seeds sprout indoors, they need a healthy supply of light to survive. Without it, they become lanky and weak (also known as “leggy”).
Seedlings that lack the proper amount of light will produce poor-quality chlorophyll (green pigment), fail to grow leaves or flower buds, and eventually die.
Fortunately, this is a fairly easy fix for most gardeners. Using a grow light is the best way to ensure your seeds get the light they need for a successful start.
5. Keep the Temperature Right
Seeds need a certain temperature in order to germinate and grow into healthy, robust plants. This isn’t just true of vegetable seeds — many fruits and flowers also need a specific temperature to perform their best.
In addition to having the right temperature, seeds also need access to light. A seed that begins to sprout without a source of light will likely continue growing in the dark, which will cause it to become leggy and weak.
This is why most gardeners will start seeds indoors in a controlled environment until after their local last frost date has passed. This can help prevent your crops from a late, surprise frost that can kill them.