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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.

Seed Starting Care

It's finally that time of year! The time to start getting seeds started indoors for transplanting into the garden this spring! I relish the anticipation of waiting for those precious seeds to germinate and the excitement when I'm finally able to plant those transplants outdoors. I'm planning to go through my seeds this weekend and make my schedule for seeding.

I've come up with a few care guidelines below that can help you be successful in your seed starting this year:


  • After seeding, be sure to keep the soil evenly moist, but not sopping wet. The best way to test soil moisture is to stick your finger into the soil and see how moist it is. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water. If the soil is still moist, wait until it is dry to water again.
  • Always be sure that the container has drainage and the seeds aren't sitting in a pool of water at the bottom of the container.
  • Be careful to water gently from overhead to not damage any seedlings or blast the seeds from their cells.


  • Emerging seedlings need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • A southern or western facing window will provide the brightest light.
  • If those windows are not available, supplemental lighting may be added by using fluorescent bulbs or grow lights.
  • Lighting should be placed 6-8 inches above the plants for at least 14-16 hours a day.


  • The early season, spring, cool crops should ideally be grown at 60-70 degrees F during the day and 50 degrees at night.
  • The summer or warm season crops should ideally be grown at 70-75 degrees F during the day and 60 degrees at night.

Common Problems

Seedlings did not germinate well

  • This could be due to a variety of factors, including bad seed, disease problems, or improper watering, temperatures, or lighting.
Seedlings are long and leggy and stretched out.
  • The seedlings likely need more light. Move to a brighter location.
Damping off disease
  • This disease will show up as dead seedlings in areas scattered around the flat. The seedlings will rot at the base and fall over dead.
  • The best prevention of this is to make sure the seedlings are not overwatered.

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