Growing from seeds is one of the most empowering activities you can do as a gardener. To grow something from so little into a fully blossoming plant is quite the experience! Growing from seeds is also an excellent way to stretch your gardening budget as seeds are often inexpensive.
Many gardeners, however, are intimidated when starting from a seed, and it’s no secret that it can be a bit more difficult than starting with a seedling. While it is much easier to start with a grown plant, there’s a certain satisfaction that can only come from starting from a seed. Read on and learn the common mistakes gardeners make, and how you can avoid making them yourself.
Not Starting Small
When first getting started it can be tempting to look at all the seeds available and get a grandiose idea of a flourishing garden. This more often than not leads to disappointment as none or few plants actually grow.
If you’re a beginner, take a step back, and start with only a couple of seeds. Growing from seeds is difficult, much more so than starting with a seedling or caring for a full-grown plant. It’s also much more time consuming as seedlings need daily checkups. The more plants you intend to grow, the more time you’ll need to spend caring for them.
Give yourself some time to learn the ins and outs, and then ramp up into larger grows.
Too Little Light
This is one of the most common mistakes; seedlings need a lot of light! Typically, a seedling is going to need a good deal more light than a full grown plant. Think of the care and attention a baby needs, seedlings need the same in a similar respect. Many seeds also need to be placed in a sunny spot in order to germinate.
Unfortunately, even the sunniest of homes are likely to not have adequate sunlight for growing strong seedlings. In most cases, supplementing with grow lights is going to be required. Most types of plant grow lights should suffice. Keep them roughly 3-4 inches away from your seedlings, and adjust the position of the light as the plant grows.
Wrong Amount Of Water
Getting the watering right on seedlings can be difficult. This is probably the easiest part to mess up as seeds and seedlings are very susceptible to small variations in water. Unlike a full grown plant, a seedling is not going to be as hardy and able to withstand the shock of too much or too little water.
The key is to keep your soil moist, but not soaking wet. A lot of growers will cover the container with plastic until germination. This helps lock in the moisture, and keeps the soil moist without having to worry about watering. It also helps keep your seed’s environment warm and humid, both important for proper germination.
Another good strategy is to water from the bottom of the container, and then allow the roots to suck up the water from there. This allows the seedlings to get their necessary water, while also helping to prevent accidental overwatering.
Planting Too Deep
Before you start sowing those seeds take a few minutes to read over the package. Different types of plants have different needs, and one of them is the depth at which seeds should be planted.
The general rule of thumb is to plant the seeds at a depth 2-3 times their width. That said, there are certain types of plants that require light to germinate, and shouldn’t be covered at all. This is pretty simple but very easy to mess up if not given proper attention.
Seed germination typically happens around 65°F-75°F. Any cooler than this, and it’s a good chance your seeds won’t germinate properly. This is typically an issue inside cooler homes, or if you plant them outside too early. Also, take care to avoid areas with a draft or that fluctuate more than a few degrees in temperature like near a furnace register.
A good place to germinate seeds is on the top of the refrigerator. This naturally provides some additional heat, and will likely be a few degrees warmer than the rest of your home. If you’re using grow lights, you can also use the heat from the lights to provide warmth as well. Just be careful not to overheat the seedling.
You only really have to worry about this until the seed has sprouted. Afterward, the comfortable range will be much larger, but still do take care to not expose it to large temperature swings as noted above.
Using The Wrong Soil
The soil is your seed’s home, make sure it’s the best it can be. You don’t want to use just any old dirt from outside, make sure you’re using a quality potting soil.
Potting soil is typically lighter and fluffier than traditional soil. This helps with drainage, and prevents sitting water from harming your delicate seeds.
Potting soil will also be packed with nutrients your plants will need as they grow. For best results, go with a seed starter mix as these will be ideal for freshly planted seeds.
Not Giving Proper Attention
Seedlings are delicate and require daily checkups and regular maintenance. Unlike a full grown plant, leaving a seedling alone for a week can be catastrophic to its chances of survival.
You should set aside some time each day to check up on your seeds and seedlings. Take a few minutes to check their overall progress, the temperature, soil, and make sure that all factors are right for optimal growth. Seedlings are not hardy, and don’t survive neglect; make sure you have the proper time to take care of them!
Don’t Give Up
Growing from seeds is hard, but well worth the effort. The worst thing you can do is let one setback stop you from trying again.
If at first try your seedlings die, or even don’t sprout, take some time to figure out why. Then use that knowledge to try again, and this time succeed! There are no problems with not growing beautiful plants on the first try, as long as you continue to try you’ll succeed!