Starting plants indoors from seed is fun way to have a start-to-finish hand in growing a garden and flowers. Plus, it’s a great way to save money! Seed-starting is not difficult, however there are some proven ways to improve the experience and even speed up the process. Here are some tips and tricks to increase your likelihood of success!
#1 Start with the Correct Soil
Seeds only need a few things to get going, these include: water, light, and soil. Seedling mixes are the perfect planting medium for retaining moisture while allowing excess water to drain. They are also designed to encourage root development, which not only makes the plant stronger, it also makes transplanting them a lot easier.
Pro Tip: Using seed trays keeps seedlings organized, makes moving them more convenient, and they collect excess water.
#2 Warm the Soil and Seedlings
Providing seedlings with a consistent temperature can speed up germination by a couple of days! Consistent temperatures also improve germination rates by almost 70%, making you look like a seed starting rock star! To gently boost the soil temperature for seedlings, place a heating mat under the seed starting trays. Mats made specifically for seed starting are durable and provide low, consistent temperatures, removing the guesswork.
#3 Transplant Seedlings as They Grow
When starting seeds indoors it is a good idea to transplant or “step them up” two to three times before they are ready to go outside permanently. Transplanting seedlings to bigger containers will provide room for root development so the plant energy goes downward instead of to the green top growth. Healthy roots are the key to a healthy mature plant.
Pro Tip: Remember to label the plants along the way! As you transplant and move things around it can get confusing very quickly.
As your seedlings begin to grow, they can become very “leggy”, meaning that they are thin and tall and sometimes a little wobbly. Don’t be afraid to prune your seedlings, as leggy plants are weaker and prone to falling over. Pruning slows down its upward growth and encourages lateral branching and root growth, making them much hardier and preventing loss as you begin to move them outside.
Pro Tip: Using a small fan on low power for an hour or two each day over your seedlings will provide some resistance for your plants, strengthening their stems. If you don’t have a fan just gently run your hand over their tops each time you walk by them.
#5 Harden Off Plants Before Planting Them Outside
Before seedlings are ready to be planted outside, they need to be transitioned slowly. This is called “hardening off”. Over the course of three to four days, move the seedlings outside for a little bit each day, then bring them back inside. Increase the amount of time spent outside each day so they get used to being exposed to the elements. Hardening off will prevent shock and get them ready to go into the ground.
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