Tips and Tricks for Greenhouse Growing from Seed
We are headed into another week of our grow-along! If you're just jumping on board, it's never too late to begin growing! Here are the first three blog articles to catch you up on the project!
Now that we're all caught up, let me share some important tips for you that I learned (oftentimes the heard way) when I started growing seeds indoors.
Growing plants from seed is such a rewarding experience for so many reasons. There is peace of mind in knowing where your seeds came from, what kind of soil mixture they grew in, and that they were not treated with chemicals or pesticides. But growing from seed can be tricky too. There are so many factors that contribute to growing successfully from seed. Below are a few tips and tricks based on my own personal experiences growing from seed that I hope will help you along your growing journey.
- Warmth is key to seed germination. Putting your container on a heat mat, placing a dome on top to help hold in heat, and limiting drafts will help your seeds germinate. Soil between 65-75 degrees F is usually the sweet spot.
- If you don’t have a dome, plastic wrap will work great too! Just make sure to peek every day until they sprout and remove the wrap as soon as sprouts appear.
- Remove your seedlings from heat immediately after they sprout. Don’t delay or you will end up with long wiry seedlings that will be difficult to maintain and grow.
- Ensure your plants have plenty of elbow room to grow, so if you planted two seeds in one seed cell or pot and both germinate, carefully remove one and transplant it into a new cell so they both have room to grow. This is called “pricking out.”
- If you are using grow lights (which I highly recommend for winter growing), make sure they are positioned just 3”-5” above the highest leaf of your seedling. If the grow light is too high, your seedlings will “reach” for them and become very leggy. If the grow light is too low, it will scorch the leaves and kill the plant. Placement is key! Pay attention to how the plant is responding to the light. If you notice your seedlings getting really tall at the base and turning a lighter green color, your light needs to be lowered so it is closer to your seedlings. If you notice the edges of your plant leaves drying out or scorch marks anywhere on them, your light is too close. Grow lights with LED bulbs may need to be a couple inches further away from the plant as well, as they are stronger than traditional shop lights. But, typically 5”-6” seems to be the sweet spot in my greenhouse.
- Grow lights should be used as a supplement to daylight. In other words, when you wake in the morning and turn on the lights in your house, you turn ON your grow lights as well. Turn OFF your grow lights before you go to bed.
- Keeping your soil damp is important but be sure the soil isn’t sopping wet. The tricky part here is that the size of your container and the type of soil you use both play a role in how often you need to water. But typically, I have found that I never need to water more than once every 2-3 days when they are small. As a rule of thumb, I would rather my soil be a tad too dry than too moist. If the seedlings begin to wilt, they usually pop back to life as long as you didn’t ignore their cries for help for too long. But once they’ve drowned and the roots have rotted, you have to start over from scratch.
- When watering your seedlings, use a misting bottle instead of a watering can so you don’t drown those tiny little sprouts. I typically move from a mister to a watering can with a narrow spout once my seedlings have grown two sets of true leaves.
- Watering with lukewarm water instead of cold water directly from the faucet or hose will prevent them from going into shock. Pro tip: fill your misters and watering cans with water and leave them on your heat mat and the water inside will be the perfect temperature when you need it.
Over the next couple of weeks, continue to nurture these seedlings as they grow leaves and establish their root system. Take care of them now and they’ll take care of you later.
Happy growing, friends.
Until next week,
Disclaimer: This article may contain Amazon affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional charge to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you.