Modern Gardner partnered with Red Butte Garden Greenhouse to bring you a simple guide to starting seedlings indoors. There are many advantages to growing transplants and we're here to help you succeed. Spring is the best time to get started, so let's get planting!
Growing seedlings is a rewarding and challenging experience. In addition to having the satisfaction of growing your own plants from seeds, there are many other reasons to start seedlings indoors for your garden.
With seedlings comes the opportunity to try new and unique seed varieties. Seed catalogs often have more diversity than the plant selection found at garden stores. For example, did you know there are thousands of varieties of tomatoes in existence worldwide? Most garden stores will only carry several common varieties of plants.
Additionally, starting from seed will you get more bang for your buck. Seeds will store for many years and are cheaper than plants. If you plan to garden annually or year-round, you can have significant financial savings.
Requirements for Successful Transplants:
Viable Seeds – Make sure you buy seeds from a reputable source.
Planting Seeds Seasonably – Follow the guidelines for each variety and allow enough time for germination before transplanting. (Utah’s climate is quite diverse, so be familiar with your last frost dates.)
Use proper growing medium – We recommend a loose potting soil mix with peat and perlite. Make sure it’s sanitary to avoid dampening off!
Provide Enough Light – Most seedlings require bright and consistent sunlight, usually 14-18 hours a day. If seedlings don’t receive enough light, they will become weak and leggy and usually cannot recover. If you don’t have enough natural light, an LED grow light or other specialized plant light will do the trick.
Temperature and Humidity – Keeping seedlings at about 70 degrees is a good rule of thumb to follow. However, most plants will survive with soil temperatures ranging from 60-80 degrees. Using a clear plastic lid or dome, or some sort of greenhouse set up will help keep the proper amount of moisture.
Although there are plenty of opinions on this, common gardening wisdom advises not to plant any seed deeper than twice its diameter. Following the instructions given on the seed packet will always work. After planting your seeds, lightly cover with soil and mist it with a mister or spray bottle. It is very important to never let the seedlings dry out and always keep the soil damp, but not to drown the seeds. Remember seeds still need oxygen to survive! Think like Goldilocks: Not too much water and not too little, but just right.
Vegetable varieties have varying time requirements for germination and transplanting. Utah State University Horticulture Extension Program has a great planting guide to help you decide when to start your seedlings and when to transplant your starts to your outdoor garden.
Remember to be patient and give your seedlings time and consistent care. Come transplanting time, you will have happy, healthy homegrown starters that you can be proud of.
To learn more about Red Butte Garden Greenhouse and see a list of the different plants offered, visit their website.
KUED Production Intern
Alaynia Winter earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from University of Utah. A member of student media in college, she wrote for Wasatch Magazine, University of Utah's outdoor lifestyle magazine. When not gardening, Alaynia spends time with her very spoiled dog.Read more