Whether growing delicate indoor plants or starting vegetables before they're planted in the garden, some simple tips can help get the most out of plants when growing from seed. Using the right organic potting soil can help supply the seeds with all the nutrients needed to grow, while fluorescent lighting can help take the place of the sun during dark winter days. Choosing the right seed is also essential.
Some seeds will thrive indoors, and others will not; therefore, picking the right type of seed for the right place is essential. Some flowers such as marigolds and snapdragons will thrive in indoor conditions as houseplants, while wildflowers and sunflowers are hardy enough to be started from seed outside. Many types of herbs can be successfully started by growing from seed in an indoor planter, and with a large enough container even berry bushes such as blackberries can be well suited to indoor growing. When it comes to vegetables, some do better when started early in containers; tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and broccoli can all be given a head start when planted weeks before they are moved to the garden.
When growing from seed outside, determine the optimum planting time to ensure the best chance for seed survival. In colder areas, it may be necessary to postpone planting until after the ground thaws completely. Waiting too long will not give the plant time to grow and thrive before the weather turns cold again; this is particularly important with vegetables.
The container should be suited to the plant. For smaller plants or those that are going to be transplanted into the garden once they are started, small, recycled containers such as egg or milk cartons are big enough. Plants that will be taller with longer roots by the time they are transplanted, such as tomatoes, will do well in affordable, thin plastic gardening trays. When growing from seed to transplant, place each seed in its own separate container. This will prevent the roots from growing together and being damaged when they are separated.
Use an appropriate potting mixture. Seeds require three main nutrients in order to grow: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each of these nutrients should be supplied by the mixture of organic potting soil in order to promote seed growth and later plant growth. Starting more delicate seeds in containers instead of the ground can help protect them from pests.
Keeping seeds in containers will also make it easier to monitor the moisture content of the potting soil. If the soil is too dry, the seed can shrivel and die. When the soil is too wet, the seed can drown. When growing from seed, it can help to move seedlings from the greenhouse or window and leave them outside for longer and longer periods of time to allow adjustment to the final location.