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How to Start Flower Seeds Indoors

Start flower seeds indoors.

Table of Contents

Germinating flower seeds indoors doesn’t require an extensive array of tools; however, having the right supplies from the get-go can certainly improve your success rate. Here are the basic tools I use and you’ll want to make sure you have them on hand as well. You should be well-equipped to successfully start flower seeds indoors and kickoff your garden season!

Tools For Germinating Seeds:

Nasturtium seeds

Seeds

This seems like a no-brainer but I will say it anyway: be sure to obtain high-quality flower seeds from a reputable source! The seeds need to be fresh and not expired. I now buy most of my flower seeds from Eden Brothers, Burpee Seeds and True Leaf Market. All of them have first-rate seed quality, excellent germination rates and responsive customer service.

Containers

You’ll need containers to plant the seeds. These could be seedling trays, small pots, peat pots, or even recycled containers like yogurt cups with drainage holes added. I prefer 32 and 48 cell seedling trays like these at Bootstrap Farmer. They are reusable, very strong and perfect for seed germination.  Also, the transparent dome or plastic wrap can create a mini greenhouse effect, helping to maintain humidity levels and warmth, which can aid in seed germination.

Seed Starting Mix

Use a sterile, well-draining seed starting mix rather than garden soil, which can be too heavy and may contain pathogens that can harm delicate seedlings.

We use a germinating mix that is a fine textured and contains natural microbes called Mycorrhizae that help support root growth. This mix has resulted in more vigorous and resilient plant growth. A healthy seedling exhibits far greater resistance to disease.

Planting trays filled with starter soil.

Watering Can and Spray Bottle

You’ll need a way to water your seeds gently without disturbing them. A watering can with a fine nozzle can work. In the initial stages a spray bottle works well for maintaining moisture. Keep in mind that before you begin seeding the soil mix should be moist throughout.

Labels

Keep track of what you’ve planted by labeling your containers with the name of the flower species and the date of planting. This helps you monitor their progress and identify them once they start growing.

Warmth Source

Many flower seeds germinate best with bottom heat. You can place your seed containers on top of a seedling heat mat to provide consistent warmth, which can speed up germination. The heat mat has always been our most essential tool in germinating seeds. These mats provide reliable warmth precisely where it’s needed: at the root system.

Light Source

While not necessary for germination, once the seeds have sprouted, they will need ample light to grow into healthy seedlings. A sunny windowsill or artificial grow lights can provide the necessary light. If you lack a location receiving 8 hours of sunlight daily, consider supplementing with LED Grow Lights. These economical light bars emit energy-efficient, full-spectrum illumination, perfect for facilitating seed germination.

Seedling Fertilizer

The soil mix contains sufficient starter nutrients for germination. Once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, you may consider feeding them with a diluted seedling fertilizer to promote healthy growth. We traditionally incorporate liquid fertilizer into our watering routine. You have two primary options: the first involves using an organic fertilizer such as FoxFarm Big Bloom® Liquid Plant Food Concentrate, while the second entails utilizing the non-organic yet highly effective Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Bloom Booster Flower Food. Both options yield excellent results, though Miracle-Gro may be more budget-friendly.

Steps to Sow Your Seeds

germinating flowersOne of my favorite parts of being a professional grower was starting seeds in our greenhouse on a cold dreary day in February. There is nothing more hopeful than beginning your gardening season by planting a tiny seed. Here is an overview of the steps you will need to take to accomplish your task of growing flowers from seed.

Select the Right Time

Determine the appropriate time to sow seeds based on your local climate and the specific requirements of the plants you’re growing. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map found here is a good place to help determine the best planting times for your area. The seed packets often give general information as well.

Prepare Containers

Seeding flowers

Make sure your containers have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Fill the seed trays or pots with seed-starting mix, leaving some space at the top for watering. Before sowing seeds, moisten the soil thoroughly. Water should be evenly distributed throughout the soil mix.

Sow Seeds

Every flower seed has a different requirement for germination. Most are very tiny and don’t have to be planted very deep. Follow the instructions on the seed packet for sowing depth. Make small indentations in the soil mix using your finger or a small tool. Place the seeds in the indentations. Some seeds require covering with a thin layer of soil, while others need light to germinate. Your seed packet should tell you.

Label Containers

Place labels in each container to identify the type of seeds you’ve sown. Include the date of sowing for reference. If you don’t, trust me, you’ll forget!

Water Gently

Use a watering can with a fine nozzle or a spray bottle to water the seeds gently. Avoid disturbing the seeds by using a gentle stream of water.

watering seedlings

Provide Optimal Conditions

Place seed trays or containers in a location with adequate light, warmth, and ventilation. Ensure seeds receive the appropriate amount of sunlight or provide supplemental grow lights if necessary.

Monitor Moisture Levels

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Check the soil regularly and water as needed to prevent it from drying out.

Wait for Germination

Be patient and wait for the seeds to germinate! Germination times vary depending on the type of seeds and environmental conditions.

Transplant Seedlings (If Necessary)

Once seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, they can be transplanted into larger containers or continue to grow in their pots until you are ready to transplant them into the garden.

Amanda TransplantingBy following these steps and providing proper care, you can sow seeds successfully and nurture healthy seedlings for your garden.

In A Nutshell

Starting your own seeds is really fun and will save you money in the long run. Of course there is a learning curve, mistakes will be made but I hope this guide will help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Remember you will need quality seeds, containers, sterile seed starting mix, labels, gentle watering, warmth sources, light sources, fertilizer and most of all patience. Remember your nurturing efforts will someday be a vibrant garden!

FAQ -How to Start Flower Seeds Indoors

Where should I obtain flower seeds for indoor germination?

It’s important to get high-quality seeds from reputable sources such as Eden Brothers, Burpee Seeds, or Mountain Valley Seed Company to ensure freshness and viability.

What containers should I use for planting seeds indoors?

You can use seedling trays, small pots, peat pots, or even recycled containers like yogurt cups with drainage holes added. I opt for sturdy and reusable options like 32-cell seedling trays for favorable growing conditions.

What type of seed starting mix should I use? 

Use a sterile, well-draining seed starting mix instead of garden soil to avoid pathogens that may harm delicate seedlings. Look for mixes containing natural microbes like Mycorrhizae to support root growth.

How should I water my seeds without disturbing them? 

Use a watering can with a fine nozzle or a spray bottle to water seeds gently. Ensure the soil mix is moist throughout before sowing seeds.

How can I provide warmth for seed germination? 

Consider using a seedling heat mat placed beneath seed containers to provide consistent warmth, which accelerates germination.

What light source is best for seedling growth? 

While natural sunlight is ideal, supplement with artificial grow lights like LED Grow Lights if sunlight is insufficient. These provide energy-efficient, full-spectrum illumination for healthy seedling growth.

How do I ensure optimal conditions for seed germination?

Place seed trays or containers in a location with adequate light, warmth, and ventilation, and maintain consistent moisture levels in the soil.

What fertilizer should I use for seedlings?

Consider using a diluted seedling fertilizer once seedlings develop their first true leaves to promote healthy growth. Options include organic fertilizers like FoxFarm Big Bloom® Liquid Plant Food Concentrate or non-organic options like Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Bloom Booster Flower Food.

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Welcome Gardening Friends!
Amanda in Greenhouse with blooming Delphiniums. She loves growing flowers!

Amanda Shenstone

Flower Lover, Grower, Gardener

As part of Graceful Gardens for decades, I’ve garnered a wealth of knowledge about growing Delphiniums, perennials and annual flowers, and I am eager to share these insights with all of you.

Amanda Shenstone

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Resources

2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map – Learn which perennial plants are most likely to thrive at your location.

Bootstrap FarmerReliable equipment, supportive service, and helpful resources for starting your own plants. 

True Leaf MarketWonderful assortment of high quality seeds and just about anything else you need for the garden at great prices.

Eden Brothers Seed CompanyHigh-quality, rare and hard to find flower seeds will bring your gardens the interest and intrigue of growing something your neighbors may not.

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