If you want to have plants that are started from seed for the upcoming season, you will need to start them indoors. Perhaps you have trays and starter pots and you want to plant multiple seeds. One might wonder how many seeds are needed to grow a plant.
Asking that question is a good way to start understanding the answer, which has many sides to it. There are many things to consider when starting seeds indoors to grow plants. Different gardeners have different responses. There are several factors that come into play. And not every seed is equal in its fitness.
Before you begin planting your seeds, there are a few basics you need to know that will determine how many seeds you need to grow your garden plants. We will focus on different types of seeds and how they are different from each other. In addition to the information covered in this article, we will also cover some seed-starting techniques that will help you be successful.
Start With Sterile Seed Starting Mix
It is best to avoid problems from the start by using a sterile seed starting mix or soilless mix.
There are plenty of organic options too. Just make sure the package says sterile on it. This will avoid introducing potential disease spores that can lead to dampening off later.
The light, fluffy texture of these mixes allows for strong root growth, and the mix dries out quickly to prevent waterlogging. This also reduces the chance of fungus problems, like damping off.
If you are transplanting seedlings like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, it is best to plant them thickly in a sterile soil mix. This will make it easier to transplant the seedlings and they will adjust quickly to their new homes.
Using a heavy, clingy potting soil can cause serious root damage during transplanting.
Maintain Sufficient Moisture
Seeds will only germinate if they are kept moist. Watering cans are a great way to water your plants without getting water all over the leaves. You can keep the can close to the surface of the soil and direct the spout to only watering the roots. The plants are also good at showing when they need water.
Once they germinate, check them regularly. If the plants are healthy and the leaves are stiff, they do not need water. If plants are getting thirsty, they start visibly wilting.
A moist sponge is a good way to measure how much moisture the soil should have.
Sow Seeds at the Proper Depth
Many gardeners wonder how deep to sow their seeds. It usually indicates on the back of the seed pack how deep to plant individual varieties of seeds. Some seeds need light to germinate while most don’t. Warmth and moisture are more important.
Use A Heating Mat
Most seeds prefer warm soil for optimum germination. The Seeds prefer a temperature range of 70-80 degrees F.
A heat mat is a thin, reusable, waterproof mat that is placed under the seed tray. The heat mat warms the soil and helps the seed germination process. This is an excellent way to raise the temperature of the soil to the desired range. The mat will increase the soil temperature by about 20F, which will help the germination process.
You can also buy heat mats with optional thermostats to help you get the perfect temperature. If you want to be precise about the temperature range, an inexpensive soil thermometer will give you a more accurate reading of the soil temperature.
The ideal temperatures for different seed varieties can be found by checking the back of the seed packet, contacting your local cooperative extension service, or looking up online guides.
The Best Seeds to Sow Indoors
One of the things that affects how well seeds do when you sow them indoors is how big they are. If you are direct sowing tiny seeds like lettuce and herbs like basil, they can easily get lost. The problem is that it is difficult to distinguish between the weeds and the desired plants after they have germinated.
One more factor to consider is the amount of time it takes a particular plant to grow and produce fruit. For tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, it is beneficial to start them indoors because it takes about two months from the time you sow the seeds until they are ready to be transplanted into the garden.
By sowing these seeds indoors, you can grow strong plants that will be ready to transfer outdoors as soon as possible. For tomatoes, this means more fruit sooner!
Age of Seed & Germination Test
If you are like many gardeners, you probably have seeds left over from previous seasons. Is it still viable? Some seeds can be stored for ten years or more. You won’t know until you try to germinate them.
To determine the overall viability of the lot, select 10 or 20 seeds and place them in a damp paper towel, so the seeds are thoroughly wrapped within. Make sure to put the towel in a resealable plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out.
Within a week or so, you should see signs that the seeds are germinating and sprouting. Let the same type of fresh seed germinate for a while, then count how many of your total sample have germinated. This will give you an accurate estimate of the percentage of the entire lot that will germinate, so you can plan accordingly.
Ideal Time to Start Seeds Indoors
You should know the date of the last possible frost in your area. Online resources or county cooperative extension services can provide information about this. Once you know the date, work backward from there.
Seed packets will tell you how many weeks before the last expected frost you should sow seeds indoors .
This means that if you sow your tomatoes at the beginning of March, they can be planted outside at the end of April. Assume that date is April 15. You would sow seeds indoors around February 15. Transplant them to a larger container around March 15th so they have enough room to grow for the remaining month. They will be ready to be planted in the ground by April 15th.
Peat Pots & Soil Blocks
Peat pots give you the ability to bypass the transplanting step when starting your seeds.
You can plant your seedlings in the garden once they are ready to go.
If your peat pot is taking a long time to dissolve, you may want to remove some of the peat, especially if any part of it is exposed above the soil surface. This will prevent it from soaking up moisture from the soil.
Soil blocks are compressed or formed cubes made from a soil medium that typically consists of a sterile mix and compost. Eliot Coleman, a well-known organic farmer, is a big fan of using soil blocks for all his indoor seed starting. The primary appeal of soil blocks for fans is that they do not require the use of plastic, pots, or extra packaging.
A machine that mold soil into a plantable cube You can put multiple molds in a tray. You can transplant a seedling that was started in a smaller soil block to a larger one, several times if necessary.
When the seedling is ready to be planted outdoors, transplant it to the garden. It will quickly take root with no risk of transplant shock.
Direct sun is always better than artificial light. Exposing the seedlings to sunlight as soon as possible is ideal. This can be done gradually, depending on the weather conditions. This process is called hardening off.
If you want your young plants to be strong and healthy, expose them to sunlight and outside weather gradually. This will get them used to the conditions in your garden and they will be more productive once they are finally planted outside.
The temperature of death for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and many other warm-season plants is 32 degrees F.
Make sure the seedlings are outside for gradually longer periods of time over the course of a few days, before leaving them out for a full day. After exposing them to sunlight, bring them back inside and put them under artificial lights. Regular fluorescent bulbs are just as good as special grow lights. You can leave the plants outside once the nighttime temperatures are above 35 to 40 degrees F.
How Many Seeds To Plant?
The presence of other seeds in the mix, the amount of soil, and watering all play a role in the rate of germination. Seed size is not the only factor that determines germination rates; other factors such as the presence of other seeds, the amount of soil, and watering can also affect the rate of germination. The condition of the planting area is something to consider. Paramount to this is the type of plant. Different plants have different germination rates. You will likely experience some failures or losses while hardening off your plants. A single seed often won’t be enough to produce a healthy plant.
Fruits, Veggies, and Grains
Tomatoes have average-sized seeds that have an extremely high germination rate (about 98% on average). In each hole, plant 1 or 2 seeds and thin plants accordingly once they have sprouted. One of the reasons tomatoes are so popular with gardeners has to do with how easy it is to grow them from seeds. You may have success with tomato seeds planted individually as long as you have a good seed starting mix.
The seeds of giant onions are medium-sized and have a hard outer shell. The seeds of giant onions have a high success rate, especially when they are fresh. You should plant 2-3 seeds per hole. If you are not happy with how your onions are growing, you can try planting more seeds later.
This is because the success rates for germinating berry seeds is often quite low, at 50% or less. One or two seeds will not turn into small plants easily. For berry plants, plant multiple seeds per hole. It will be more difficult to succeed with smaller seeds.
Collard greens have a high success rate for sprouting with 2 or even 1 seed per hole. If you want to be successful, you should plant more than one seed. This will give you more plants to work with after hardening them off. Try planting in a few different parts of the pot if you’re working in one.
You should only plant three rice seeds or fewer in each hole regardless of the germination rate. transplanting large seeds like rice can be stressful for the plant if there are too many sprouts in one hole. You shouldn’t plant a lot of rice at one time.
One flower I’ve found sprouts very easily is calendula. The seeds have a twisty casing that looks a lot like mealworms. They germinate at about 78%. The same goes for borage seeds. Both seed types are of a medium to large size.
Chamomile seeds need the right temperature, moisture, and air exposure to germinate. A lot of people I know (myself included) find gardening with chamomile difficult because the success rate of the seeds is high, making other issues like too much moisture or too fertile a soil type more difficult. You may need to use a lot of seeds to grow one plant of chamomile.
Some Plants, like lupine and alyssum don’t need your help to replant themselves in your garden. Self-seeded plants don’t need special care, just let them grow on their own in the garden. This way you don’t have to waste time and effort starting them with soil you mixed yourself.
When planting herbs from seed, it is important to plant several and to be patient. Gardening with mint, tansy, dill, and parsley can be very rewarding, but you should plant several seeds of each type per hole.
I had to plant almost all the seeds I had before one of them sprouted. Approximately 40% of the plants germinated successfully. I would have had almost no chance of success if I had only planted one seed. This is an extreme case, though. Herbs usually have a higher growth rate than other plants, but it will usually be lower than watermelons, for example.
Starting a project from the beginning and seeing it through to the end feels much better when you do it yourself. The rewarding process of building an herb garden from the ground up is definitely worth trying!
How to Thin Seedlings
If you’ve planted two seeds in a hole and both sprout, you can either transplant them or thin them out. Choose the healthiest option and remove the other. You should use small scissors to clip the sprout that is planted in the starter pot. This is so that you don’t disturb the roots of the plant that you have selected. Although it may appear to be pointless, getting rid of a plant will actually help the others around it to grow. This is because the roots of the removed plant will break down and release nutrients that will be absorbed by the other plants.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: The time it takes for a seed to grow into a plant varies depending on the type of plant. Some plants, such as peas, can take as little as three weeks, while others, such as trees, can take several years.
A: It depends on the plant. There are a few general rules. The size of a seed can affect how well it grows. Larger seeds are more likely to sprout and be successful, while smaller seeds may not grow as well. Fresh seeds are more voracious than old ones.
Q: Can you put seeds straight into soil?
B: I don’t know. A: You have a lot more to worry about if you’re in that situation. Starting the plant yourself can ensure that it is not exposed to the elements which can include flood, being eaten, or scorched.
Q: What is the fastest seed to germinate?
Brassicas and lettuces are the quickest sprouting of all seeds. Turnips and radishes also grow quickly.