Updated/Fact-Chacked on March 9, 2022 by John
Do you want to grow plants from seeds? It could be that you are looking for a cheaper alternative to purchasing transplants. Maybe you are interested in a seed variety that is not easily available. Regardless of your reasons, growing plants from seeds can be tremendously rewarding.
However, you want to get it right the first time. You don’t want to invest your time and money in the process, only for it to fail – especially if you are growing seeds with children. If you are wondering where to start, here are 10 easy steps to guide you throughout the process.
10 Steps to Grow Plants from Seeds
1. Find a Seed Starting Container
Find a container that you will use to start the seed. Make sure that it is 2-3 inches deep. The container should also have several drainage holes to help get rid of excess water. You could use a self-watering pot, yoghurt cup, milk carton, air-pots, and so on.
If you plan on starting seeds regularly, buy a seed starting kit. Using a smaller container will mean that you will have to transplant your seedlings sooner or later.
2. Use the Right Seed-Starting Mix
Source the right soil medium for starting your seed. Sterile seed-starting potting or general mix should do. Avoid using garden soil because it may harbor some disease organisms or weed seeds. Also, it might be too heavy for seed starting. Once you have the right mix, moisten it with warm water and use it to fill your container.
3. Plant your Seed
Now that you have everything in place plant your seed. If you want to accelerate the germination and sprouting process, consider either soaking, cold treatment, scarification, or the paper towel method to fasten germination.
Cover the seed with soil that is no more than 3 times its thickness. All seeds are not the same. They may have varying needs. With that in mind, follow the guidelines on the seed packet for the best results.
4. Water the Seeds Reasonably
Water is crucial to seed germination and growth. How you water your seeds is also critical. It can make or break the entire operation. Use water that is at room temperature. Ice cold water can damage your plants irreversibly.
Distilled water is ideal for seed-starting, but if you only have chlorinated water, you can use it. Nonetheless, you will need to pour it into a container and wait for at least a night before you use it to water your seed. Within 12 hours, the chlorine will dissipate, and the water will be safe for your plant.
Water your plant moderately. Overdoing it will encourage diseases that could undermine your project. After watering, allow the soil to absorb water until it becomes moist. Water your plants regularly, or else they will die.
5. Cover the Container
Use plastic wrap to cover the container so that the soil mix can retain moisture. The dampness is essential for seed germination. Monitor the operation closely. And remove the plastic wrap as soon as you see any signs of germination.
When the plants start to grow, they will no longer need a lot of water. Cut down the watering but do not allow them to wilt.
6. Maintain Soil Warmth
Bear in mind that seeds germinate quickly at 78° F. If the temperature is either too low or too high, your seed will take longer to germinate. You may use a heating mat to keep the soil warm. If you can keep it constant, the seeds will germinate faster. Electrically heated propagator trays can help maintain a standards temperature.
Alternatively, you may put your seed tray in a warm location. The ideal place could be on top of appliances such as your refrigerator. This will boost seed germination.
After your seeds germinate, you can tone the temperature down. They will thrive at a lower temperature, such as 50° F. But in such circumstances, your soil temperature should be slightly below the 70°f mark.
7. Feed your Seedlings with Fertilizer
As soon as your seedlings produce true leaves for the second time, they’ll need fertilizer. Applying a moderately strong liquid fertilizer every week should do the trick. Carry out the process gently to avoid damaging the seedling’s leaves. After 28 days, the seedlings are strong enough for a full-strength fertilizer. Start using it till the day you will decide to transplant your seedlings.
8. Ensure your Seedlings are Receiving Ample Light
If your seedlings do not get enough light, they will be too weak for transplanting. You might have to place your seed-starting container near a window that receives direct sunlight. At this juncture, your seeds will require 14-16 hours of quality light.
If you notice that your seeds are bending towards the window, it is an indication that they are not receiving ample light. You can use artificial grow lights to supplement the natural light in such circumstances. To keep your seedlings healthy vibrant, follow the instruction on the LED lighting manual carefully.
9. Maintain Good Air Circulation
The location of your seed-starting container should enjoy good air circulation. This is vital for the development of healthy stems. It will also help to keep plant diseases at bay.
If you suspect that the air supply around your plant is not good enough, use a fan to boost air circulation. Even so, do not run it at high speeds to avoid damaging your upcoming seedlings. Also, maintain a safe distance between your plants and the fan.
10. Harden Off the Seedlings
As your seeds approach the transplanting stage, you will need to prepare them for harsher conditions. The process is known as ‘hardening off.’ So, how do you do it? Gradually introduce them to outdoor conditions where they will learn to contend with hostile conditions. This will not only thicken their cell walls but also promote further root development.
You can start by transplanting the plants to a shady area for several hours. Increase the amount of sunlight they receive per day gradually. Water them less but monitor them closely to avoid wilting. Within no time, your seedlings will grow into more resilient plants. You can now transplant the seedlings to the garden.
As you can see, growing seeds into plants is quite straightforward. If you follow this guide carefully, your seeds will grow and thrive.
Mary shares a passion for gardening with her husband John, though she is more focused on growing veg on their allotment at St. Margaret’s Allotments, Durham. Mary also works in the lawn care industry and manages the lawns for the Durham University campus.