Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Gardening 101: How to Sprout a Seed

Search

Gardening 101: How to Sprout a Seed

October 8, 2017

Launch a stealth attack on winter by sprouting seeds indoors (to get a start on your edible garden). It’s simpler than you may think.

Photography by John Merkl for Gardenista.

Keep It Simple

 Fluffy soil, plenty of sunlight and water, and room to grow. That&#8\2\17;s all a seed needs to persuade it to germinate. Plant seeds in small individual pots, seed flats, or newspaper pots.
Fluffy soil, plenty of sunlight and water, and room to grow. That’s all a seed needs to persuade it to germinate. Plant seeds in small individual pots, seed flats, or newspaper pots.

Find a Sunny Spot

Find a sunny windowsill indoors; seeds will sprout faster in a warm (70 degrees) spot.
Above: Find a sunny windowsill indoors; seeds will sprout faster in a warm (70 degrees) spot.

Be Patient

Some seeds take longer to sprout than others, so don&#8\2\17;t despair if you see no action for a couple of weeks. (My cilantro seeds sprouted in ten days, but my foxglove seeds didn&#8\2\17;t germinate for three weeks.)
Above: Some seeds take longer to sprout than others, so don’t despair if you see no action for a couple of weeks. (My cilantro seeds sprouted in ten days, but my foxglove seeds didn’t germinate for three weeks.)

Add Layers

Fill small seed pots with a \1-inch layer of charcoal (to aid drainage) and then a layer of potting soil (from \2 to 3 inches deep). Don&#8\2\17;t pack it down too tightly because baby roots will have a harder time in heavy soil.
Above: Fill small seed pots with a 1-inch layer of charcoal (to aid drainage) and then a layer of potting soil (from 2 to 3 inches deep). Don’t pack it down too tightly because baby roots will have a harder time in heavy soil.

Keep Them Moist

Plant from three to five seeds in each pot, making sure they don&#8\2\17;t touch. Push the seeds into the soil gently and barely cover them with dirt.
Above: Plant from three to five seeds in each pot, making sure they don’t touch. Push the seeds into the soil gently and barely cover them with dirt.

Water the seed pots daily, to keep them moist. But don’t flood them. The  soil should look dark and moist, but you should never let water pool on the surface.

The first two leaves to sprout will look undifferentiated. A few days later, a third leaf–a true leaf–will appear, displaying characteristics of the plant. At this point, you can thin seedlings, removing all but one from each pot.

You can transplant seedlings to larger pots after their true leaves appear. Or you can transplant them into the garden next spring after the last frost date; if you started your seeds in biodegradable newspaper pots, you can plant the pots directly in the garden.

Newspaper Pots How-To

Photograph by Erin Boyle.
Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Are you a novice gardener? See more of our Gardening 101 posts, including How to Water an Air Plant and How to Plant a Bulb.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0