Do you have a vision of a busy, bustling wildflower patch with pollinators flitting around? Maybe a veggie garden packed with juicy red tomatoes and lots of vibrant green kale? Or even a window box on your balcony filled with fragrant herbs for cooking, or some lush plants on the patio to create an outdoor escape in the middle of the city? Even if you don’t have a bright green thumb, you can make your plant-powered dreams come true — and it all starts with itty bitty seedlings and some tender loving care.
Growing plants from seedlings is a great way to sow success in the future (pun intended), especially if you live in a climate where winter tends to linger or surprise April snowstorms are common. If you follow a few easy rules, you can get your garden growing as soon as the conditions are right. Here’s what we recommend for seedling success:
- Make a plan. What do you want to grow? What needs to be planted ASAP? This all depends on your location, of course; what works for someone in California won’t work in Minnesota or Texas. Figure out your plan of action, including what you want to plant and where it should be planted in your garden or yard, then order your seedlings. Be sure to pay attention to recommendations, because some plants should always be planted outdoors when the weather permits.
- Get to planting. You can purchase specific containers for seedlings or look around your house to upcycle items and give them a new life. (Yogurt cups are perfect for this.) Just make sure you have a few inches of space for soil and adequate drainage. Did you ever plant seedlings in milk or egg cartons in elementary school? They work great, so grab them from the recycling bin and get to work.
- Don’t overcrowd your new plant babies. Give each seedling lots of space to grow so it doesn’t have to compete with its adorable siblings.
- Follow the directions. There’s a reason seed packets have instructions on the label! Follow the recommendations for how deep to plant the seed and how much light and water it should get throughout the day.
- Don’t drown them. Overwatering seedlings is a recipe for disaster. A spray bottle may be your best bet for ensuring they’re getting the water they need without overdoing it.
- Lots of light is best. Your sweet little baby plants need sunshine to grow big and strong, so make sure they’re getting lots of bright, nurturing light. It’s also a good idea to keep them in a warm room to mimic the spring and summer conditions of the outdoors and to turn them each day so every angle is getting adequate sun.
- Introduce them to the outdoors slowly. You can’t exactly go from the comfort of your home to the garden right away. Seedlings do better when you take baby steps. Start by placing them outdoors in their containers for a few hours in the morning, then longer and longer over the period of a few days.
- Plant them! Once conditions are right and you’re ready for your sweet seedlings to take the next important step in their journey, plant them! The same rules apply to planting them in the ground: give them space, pay attention to the directions on the packet for light and water rules, and remember that to grow and flourish, they need lots of care and attention. You’ll be reaping the rewards of your hard work in no time.