Each seed has different requirements and germination times. We are dealing with nature, so don’t expect 100% germination, especially if you’re just getting into the hobby! Be patient, experiment, ask questions, and enjoy the process! Each seed needs:
Some seeds need some seed prep before planting in the form of pre-soaking, stratification, or scarification. This helps replicate the seed’s natural conditions. For instance, stratification imitates the winter a seed would undergo, so when the seed is warm again, it triggers the germination process as if it were spring. Check your seed’s care guide or product page for seed prep details, usually the more difficult seeds do have a seed prep step.
Pre-soaking: Place the seeds in room temperature or warm water for ~24 hours prior to sowing
Stratification: Place the seeds in a container like a baggie or tupperware container with sphagnum moss or soil(or sown already in your planter) and place that container in the fridge for anywhere from 1 week - 2 months before planting the seeds
Scarification: Breaking the seed's coat so water can get in. You can do so by gently cutting the outer coating of the seed with a knife or more commonly, by using some sand paper to sand away a bit of the hard shell.
Now that your seeds are ready to be planted, picking the right setup is key! Is there a suggested setup method in the care guide? The care sheet will specify if the greenhouse method or another method like the paper towel method is preferred for a particular variety.
The greenhouse method is the default option and works for all seed varieties provided the seed prep step is followed! Luckily, there are ways to DIY this if you don't have a mini greenhouse. Read this post to learn more about different ways of creating the ideal seed setup:
This depends again on the set-up method you’ve selected. The two most effective we recommend are the greenhouse method or the paper towel method. Your seed will specify the depth and spacing for planting.
Spacing: With the seeds that come in packs of 100(herbs, veggies or flowers) you can usually sow the seeds more liberally and then thin the seedlings to space them out, for houseplants or succulents, we recommend being more careful with sowing and giving more space for each seed.
Depth: Some seeds will be happy to just be scattered on the surface(like African Violets), while other seeds will appreciate being covered in soil. The most common depth for planting will be from 1/8"-1/2".
The key conditions for seeds to germinate include heat, light and humidity. For common varieties like herbs or veggies, these conditions are more forgiving as they can tolerate a wide range of conditions.
However, rare and tropical seeds need the conditions they'd have in their native, tropical regions, which generally means really high heat and humidity, and not too much light. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Light: Ideally use grow lights. The key thing is to keep your sowing station OUT of direct sun. Direct sun rays can hurt the seeds and overheat them. Use a bright windowsill with indirect sun or a couple of hours or filtered sun.
Heat: If you have a heat mat, keep it consistently between 70-90F.
Humidity: A greenhouse, ziploc bag, jar, or any kind of dome is needed for germinating exotic seeds, and definitely helps even for herbs or veggies if you want to maximize germination rates.
Do you tend to over-love or under-love your plants? If the former, then remind yourself to mostly leave the seeds alone so you don't disturb their conditions! If, on the other hand, you tend to forget about your plants(like me!), set reminders on a weekly basis to check on the setup. These are the key things to keep track of:
Is there condensation on the humidity dome? If you don't see a good amount of condensation form on the dome, then you probably need to add water and/or increase the temperature.
Keep the soil moist: Check the soil moisture levels once a week or so, you can either do so visually or by lightly prodding the soil with your finger. If it doesn't feel very moist, then add some warm water.
Warmth: Temperatures need to stay consistently in the 70-85F range. If it gets too cold or too warm, then the seeds may not make it.
Light: Double check to make sure the seeds aren't getting over exposed to sunlight if you have them by a windowsill!
step 8) sprouts care
The set-up is a challenge, and caring for the sprouts can be even more so! The key thing to remember is your sprouts are transitioning from seeds, to plants. That means they still need high humidity and warmth, just a bit less.
If your humidity dome has air vents, then open them. If not, take off the dome for an hour a day to start. It's crucial to start giving the seedlings fresh air.
Once most of the seeds germinate, start removing the dome for longer periods daily so within a week you can leave it off for good.
Provide more light. If you're using grow lights, great, keep them under grow lights. If you have them by a windowsill, make sure they're getting bright indirect light.
Keep the soil moist. Many sprouts die from underwatering. So check in regularly to make sure moisture levels are good.
Do you have them on a heat mat? Acclimate them to be off the heat mat, so the soil doesn't dry out too much. Keep them warm, but they don't need as much warmth as seeds.
Congratulations! Your sprouts are growing into little seedlings and they have 1 or 2 sets of leaves now. Now that you have a good setup, let's consider fertilization and re-potting.
Re-potting: If your seedlings are in a greenhouse with their 1st or 2nd set of leaves it may be time to move them! Keeping the roots intact, move them to a home that will give them space to grow. You only want to size up planters 2" at a time, so if they're in a greenhouse, move them to a 4" planter.
Fertilization: If your seedlings have their 2nd or 3rd set of adult leaves, you can start fertilizing them with diluted liquid fertilizer. We recommend Noot or Arber. Dilute the strength by half, and water the seedlings once a week to once a month with the fertilized water.
Light: Seedlings need more light than the adult plants. If they are under a grow light they should be doing well! You can start gradually acclimating seedlings to more sun. South-facing windows work well, just make sure they aren't overwhelmed with sun. Giving your seedlings 1-3 hours of sun a day can boost their growth!