Whether you live in a place without outdoor space (like us) or are just looking for an opportunity to jump-start your growing season, planting seeds inside may be a great option for you.\n\n\n\nIn this article, we\u2019ll teach you how to get into the practice of seed starting in your very own home, creating a new plant. You\u2019ll go from planting new seeds to having sprouts and your very own food or houseplants in no time. What\u2019s more, when you sew a seed indoors, it can actually give you a head start on germination during the growing season. It\u2019s really the best way to start your seeds.\n\n\n\nWe\u2019ll go through the basics, show you how to successfully germinate your seeds, and explain the right growing medium, light, and water needed for the best chances for success.\n\n\n\nDid You Know?\n\n\n\nDid you know that, when growing outdoors, it\u2019s important to consider the frost date. That said, the latest frost date does not necessarily mean you should sow all the seeds in your garden. It's only a projected date that anticipates the end of evening temperatures below freezing.\n\n\n\nPros and Cons of Starting From Seeds\n\n\n\nIf you\u2019re looking to get started with seed growing in your indoor garden, you should be fully aware of the benefits and drawbacks. We\u2019ll run you through these now.\n\n\n\nPros\n\n\n\nThere are several upsides to starting from seeds.\n\n\n\nSeeds are cheap: Seeds are the most inexpensive way to start a garden, so if you screw it up the first couple of times, you don\u2019t have to be worried about losing the farm.Seed starting can happen indoors: This is helpful because depending on where you live, the growing season could be limited \u2013 and in many cases, sporadic. You don\u2019t want to put a particularly delicate plant outside if you live in Michigan where surprise snow in the first week of May might ruin things.\u00a0There\u2019s more variety: Your local nursery only has so many mature or young plants on hand. There are online options for seeds of all kinds, and you\u2019re able to start and germinate whichever ones you want.There\u2019s a certain satisfaction to it: There\u2019s an undeniable pride factor to the fact that you\u2019ve taken this fragile life form from seed to garden or even to your table. It\u2019s just cool.\n\n\n\nCons\n\n\n\nAs with anything else in life, there are also downsides to a decision to start from seeds.\n\n\n\nSome seeds are more finicky than others: There are certain plants that are easier to start from a seed, while others can be temperamental. With that in mind, it\u2019s important to do research on what you\u2019re thinking about growing in advance so that you can be aware of what you\u2019re getting into.Timing is still important: You can start seeds indoors, which can help you save a plant from one or two early spring frosts, but you still need to get certain plants in the ground fairly early on so that the root systems develop properly. It\u2019s important to know what USDA hardiness zone you fall into climate-wise. That way, you know what will thrive in your area and when to get it in the ground.Some plants do best in specific germination environments: You will need to do specific research on the environment your plant needs to begin its growth cycle in the healthiest possible way. Some plants are going to require specific amounts of light or air circulation, so growing from seeds can require varying amounts of upfront investment and initial setup on your part.\n\n\n\nFor plants that are particularly hard to grow from seeds, getting plants or sprouts that began life in a highly-controlled nursery environment may be easier. If you go this route, just be sure it\u2019s a plant that doesn\u2019t mind being moved into more permanent soil later on.\n\n\n\nDid You Know?\n\n\n\nDid you know that a heating mat can be used to provide your seeds with a steady temperature, which can help support germination? You can purchase heat mats either online or at local garden centers.\n\n\n\nWhich Seeds Should Be Started Indoors?\n\n\n\nThe University of Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center lists several plants that should (and shouldn\u2019t) be started indoors. There are several different types of vegetables you can grow indoors including potatoes, carrots and eggplants. Here's a look at a table that shows the dificulty level of growing specfic seed types inside.\n\n\n\nSimilarly, seeds for a variety of fruits, such as tomato plants can be easy to germinate inside and then transplant outside when they're ready. Check out the transplanting difficulty level on these fruit seeds, including avocados and tomato seeds. \n\n\n\n\nVegetable Seeds and Fruit Seeds\n\n\n\nSome warm weather plants like tomatoes are easily transplanted and it\u2019s ideal to start them indoors, particularly in cooler climates. With other plants, it\u2019s not as common to start the seed packets indoors, but you may find it easier to get these going with the appropriate planning and research into what you\u2019re looking to grow.\n\n\n\nPlants That Can Be Started Indoors by Difficulty TransplantingEasyTransplant With CareStart OutdoorsEggplantsSquashCarrotsPeppersPumpkinsCornAvocadosMelonsBeansTomato PlantsCucumbersBeets\n\n\n\n \n\n\n\nFlower Seeds\n\n\n\nLike vegetables and fruits, you can start a flower with your very own seeds. Use this chart, provided by the University of Missouri Extension for a germination guide to sowing common annual flowers seeds in the home.\n\n\n\nFlower typeGermination timeGrowing tempCrop timeCommentsAgeratum5 to 8 days60 to 65 degrees F10 to 11 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Alyssum, sweet4 to 8 days50 to 55 degrees F8 to 9 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Aster8 to 10 days60 to 62 degrees F7 to 8 weeks Begonia, fibrous10 to 12 days60 degrees F16 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Celosia6 to 10 days65 to 68 degrees F10 to 12 weeksDon\u2019t grow cool.Cleome10 to 12 days70 to 75 degrees F7 to 9 weeksTransplant before flowering.Coleus8 to 10 days65 to 75 degrees F9 to 10Needs light to germinate.Cosmos5 days65 degrees F4 to 6 weeks Dianthus5 to 7 days50 to 55 degrees F12 to 14 weeksCover seeds lightly. Grow cool.Dusty Miller10 to 15 days60 to 65 degrees F11 to 12 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Geranium, seed7 to 10 days60 to 65 degrees F13 to 15 weeksBest if grown in small pot.Gomphrena10 to 14 days68 degrees F9 to 10 weeksCrop time for dwarf types.Impatiens15 to 18 days58 to 60 degrees F10 to 11 weeksCover seeds lightly.Lobelia15 to 20 days60 degrees F11 to 12 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Marigold5 to 7 days65 to 68 degrees F8 to 12 weeksTall types require more time.Melampodium7 to 10 days60 to 62 degrees F7 to 8 weeks Nicotiana10 to 15 days60 to 62 degrees F9 to 10 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Nierembergia10 to 15 days60 to 62 degrees F10 to 11 weeksKeep cool during germination.Pansy\/Viola6 to 10 days50 to 55 degrees F14 to 15 weeksGrow at cool temperatures.Pepper, ornamental8 to 10 days60 degrees F11 to 14 weeks Petunia6 to 12 days55 to 60 degrees F12 to 13 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Phlox, annual6 to 10 days50 to 55 degrees F10 to 11 weeksDirect seed into containers.Portulaca6 to 10 days65 degrees F12 to 13 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Salvia12 to 15 days60 degrees F9 to 11 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Snapdragon7 to 12 days45 to 50 degrees F15 to 16 weeksNeeds light. Grow cool.Statice15 to 20 days50 to 55 degrees F8 to 10 weeksGrow at cool temperatures.Stock10 to 14 days50 to 55 degrees F9 to 10 weeksGrow at cool temperatures.Torenia10 to 15 days55 to 60 degrees F12 to 13 weeksNeeds light to germinate.Verbena12 to 20 days55 to 60 degrees F12 to 13 weeksChill seeds before sowing.Vinca10 to 15 days65 to 68 degrees F14 to 15 weeksGrow in warm temperatures.Zinnia5 to 7 days60 degrees F8 to 9 weeksDirect seed into final container.\n\n\n\n \n\n\n\nWhere to Get Seeds?\n\n\n\nIf you want to start growing from seeds, there are various options which may be available to you. You could certainly start at your local nursery. The advantage here is that you\u2019ll know for sure that they are stocking options suited to your particular climate. However, local nurseries are likely to be beholden to whatever sells best in order to make the most money possible given limited shelf space. With that in mind, you can turn to specialty online sellers if you want more options.\n\n\n\nBurpeeAmazonSeed Savers\n\n\n\nThese are just a few of the options, but the real key here is that the best of the sites will let you select seeds and other materials suited to your particular climate zone, based on the USDA hardiness recommendations referenced earlier.\n\n\n\nWhat Containers Are Needed for Starting Seeds Indoors?\n\n\n\nYou\u2019ll need a place to start your seeds. While there are going to be some traditional options on this list, you can also use other materials you have around the house.\n\n\n\nSeed trays: This is one of the most common methods of going about finding a starting container. The advantage of this is if you go to any nursery or site online, they\u2019ll give you guidance about what size to get all based on what you\u2019re trying to grow.Plastic bags: One thing you can do if you don\u2019t have a ton of time to water your plants is create a plastic bag growing environment which will help with water retention. When you do this, you want to water them for a few days outside the plastic bag. When you put the seeds in the bag environment, you want the soil to be moist but not too wet. Too much water isn\u2019t good for the root system. When you put plants under plastic, you\u2019ll want to keep them out of the window because the plastic works as an insulator and can superheat your plants. Of course, plants need light, so be sure to remove the bag every once in a while and give them the sun they need. Finally, poke holes in the bag for air circulation. Plastic wrap should work as well as a bag. If you have a bigger planter box, one of the options you have is to plant right within a bag of topsoil as long as you cut drainage holes in the bottom of the bag.Peat pots: The advantage of peat pots made from peat moss is that they are biodegradable, so if you wanted, you could choose to put them right down the soil and never have to worry about transplanting certain plants depending on the size.Egg cartons: Cardboard egg cartons can be cut apart and used to plant seedlings. You don\u2019t have to worry about removing the cardboard either because it will break down as it sits in the soil.\n\n\n\nPreparing the Potting Soil\n\n\n\nYou want to make sure you have the right soil (or lack thereof) to thrive in an indoor environment. It\u2019s possible to use the soil from an outdoor garden to grow your seedlings, but there are some drawbacks to this. There are often things like fungi, weed seeds and other disease-causing spores and bacteria that you really don\u2019t want in your house. A well-regulated seed-starting mix will also do a better job of providing drainage.\n\n\n\nAs far as feeding the plants, you\u2019ll want to take a look at liquid fertilizer. It\u2019s easy to apply and may be better for starter plants because it can be applied directly on the plant and more easily absorbed.\n\n\n\nSoil Mix or Soilless Mix?\n\n\n\nOne of the best ways to plant seeds indoors is with a soilless mix. This is usually based off of peat moss which is light and also provides a sterile growth medium while retaining water well.\n\n\n\nAdditives like perlite and vermiculite can be included in your potting mix to help provide the right combination of airflow, drainage and water retention. It\u2019s important to research the right mix of these ingredients for your appropriate environment based on what you plan to grow.\n\n\n\nSeed Starting Trays\n\n\n\nWhen it comes to your seed starting trays, make sure you have enough space for what you\u2019re planning to grow. Some things will do just fine in the egg carton containers, but plants with bigger root systems will need more room for their root system. Be prepared to get larger containers.\n\n\n\nYou should also consider what plants will need to be transplanted in order to determine the right container, which typically needs to happen when they are at least three inches tall and have their second set of leaves present. If they will need to be moved to a more permanent environment when the seeds sprout, reusable starter containers that can be used for multiple plants in the course of their lifetime will be cheaper. If the plants won\u2019t be moved, consider peat pots or another material that will degrade over time in the soil.\n\n\n\nDrip Trays\n\n\n\nPlants, particularly developing ones without extensive root systems, won\u2019t retain all the water you give them. They\u2019re going to weep. Because of this, you may want to purchase drip trays to contain the runoff so that your entire living space doesn\u2019t become a soggy mess.\n\n\n\nThe size of your water mitigation system is going to depend on the size of the plant, so keep this in mind. You should be able to get these at any nursery or hardware store.\n\n\n\nStarting Seeds Indoors\n\n\n\nNow that you\u2019ve got your basic materials and maybe even some seeds at this point, it\u2019s time to think about when and how you start this enterprise.\n\n\n\nAs a general rule of thumb, it\u2019s a good idea to start your seeds inside up to six weeks before they need to be moved outside, if they\u2019re going to be moved at all. However, that\u2019s going to depend on local climate conditions and the plant itself. All plants require different germination times.\n\n\n\nHow Many Seeds Should You Plant?\n\n\n\nTypically, you only want to plant two to three seeds per hole. There is not a 100% germination rate for seeds, so they may not all sprout. Having extra seeds improves the changes that a plant will germinate and grow. \n\n\n\nHow to Start Planting: Seeding\n\n\n\nWhen you start planting, follow the directions on the back of the seed packet in order to make sure you\u2019re planting the seeds at the proper seeding depth. If you don\u2019 know what the seeding depth should be, a good rule of thumb is to plant the seds 4x as deep as the width of the seed. \n\n\n\nOne thing of note is that tiny seeds should barely be covered with soil, while larger seeds need to be slightly deeper.\n\n\n\nBeyond that, there are considerations for your plants in terms of how much light, water and heat they\u2019re going to require and how you as a plant parent can deliver on those needs.\n\n\n\nHow Much Lighting Do Seeds Need?\n\n\n\nDifferent seeds have different light needs as they first germinate. There are some that germinate better in the dark, others that germinate in bright light, and some that don\u2019t seem to care either way. You\u2019ll need to refer to your seed packet for the right info on your specific seeds.\u00a0\n\n\n\nRead our blog: Difference between Grow Lights Vs. Regular Light\n\n\n\nFor the plants and seeds that need a lot of sunshine during the day, such as kale or green beans, you\u2019ll want to place them in a sunny window, preferable in a south-facing window to get the most light opportunity. If you live in the city and have limited lighting available, you may need to shop lights for best results, such as fluorescent lights or other grow lights. This can be the best way to ensure that you have enough light for proper germination.\n\n\n\nCheckout this Fullspectrum Grow LED Light from Green Bean Buddy.\n\n\nAt What Temperature Do Seeds Germinate?\n\n\n\nWhile lights and sunshine will likely produce some level of heat, it\u2019s important not to exclusively rely on your light to produce the needed heat. \n\n\n\nMost seeds germinate in a soil temperature that is anywhere between 65-85 degrees. For most people growing indoors, this range falls within room temperature. However, if you\u2019re planting seeds in a drafty basement during the winter (do basements get drafts?), the easiest way to check the temperature of the soil is with a soil thermometer.\u00a0\n\n\n\nIf it\u2019s too cold, consider purchasing a heat mat to provide sufficient bottom heat. \n\n\n\nHere are the ideal ground temperatures for specific plants.\n\n\n\nCropsMinimum Temp (F)Optimum Temp (F)Maximum Temp (F)Asparagus5075-8595Lima Beans6075-8585Beets4065-8595Broccoli4060-8595Cabbage4060-8595Carrots4065-8595Cauliflower4065-8595Swiss Chard4065-8595Garlic3265-8595Leeks3265-8595Lettuce3260-7585Muskmelons (Cantaloupe)6075-85105Okra6085-95105Onions3265-8595Parsley4065-8590Parsnips4065-8590Peas4065-7585Peppers6065-7595Pumpkins6085-95105Radishes4065-8595Spinach3265-7575Squash6085-95105Tomatoes5065-8595Turnips4060-95105Watermelons6075-95105Source: California Master Gardener Handbook, 2nd edition, Regent of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 3382 (Table 5.2, page 114).\n\n\n\nHow Much Should I Water Seeds?\n\n\n\nWhen you first plant seeds, water is what will start the germination process. That said, too much water will cause them to rot, while too little could cause the embryos inside to die. You should lightly water your seeds, and you'll need to continue watering them at least daily to keep the soil moist. You can use a spray bottle to do this or a watering can, but be sure not to overwater your plants. Drainage is incredibly important, too, as you don't want standing water. \n\n\n\nSeed Starter\n\n\n\nAnother option to improve and monitor your watering is to purchase a seed starting kit lid, which can hold in the humidity while also providing the air circulation needed. \n\n\n\nHow often Should You Fertilize Seedlings?\n\n\n\nAs surprising as it might sound, young seedlings typically don\u2019t need fertilizer at first. They have enough nutrients inside them to germinate, even if there aren\u2019t enough nutrients in the soil. But once you notice sprouting and leaves start to appear, you should consider fertilizer. An all-purpose, water soluble fertilizer is a typically good option, such at this one from Gardeners.com or from any local garden center.\n\n\n\nThinning Seedlings\n\n\n\nOnce your seeds have germinated and started sprouting, you may need to thin your healthy seedlings. The main reason you would need to thin is due to planting multiple seeds (remember \u2013 two to three) to increase the odds of success. If multiple seeds have germinated in the same space, you\u2019ll need to thin the seedlings.\n\n\n\nIn the end, you want to make sure that each plant has room for development - both above and below the soil. Having them too close together can cause your seedlings not to get enough sunlight or air-circulation. To thin your seedlings, remove the weak or unwanted, which can be removed with scissors at the soil level.\n\n\n\nCan You Use Old Seeds?\n\n\n\nMany gardeners get a little seed crazy when they start prepping their gardens and purchase more seeds than they need. But can those seeds be reused in future years? The quality of the plant should change if the seeds germinate, but the likelihood that they germinate goes down the longer they go without being planted. According to Under the Solano Sun, seeds in good condition will last at least a year, and may even last longer. Here's a table that gives you an idea of the shelf life of your seeds:\n\n\n\n1 Year2 Years3 Years4 Years5 YearsOnionsCornCarrotsPeppersBeetsParsnipsPeasLeeksChardTomatoesParsleyBeansAsparagusPumpkinsEggplantSalsifyChivesTurnipsSquashCucumbersSpinachOkraRutabagasWatermelonsMuskmelons Dandelion BasilCelery ArtichokesCeleriac CardoonsLettuce Endive Chicory\n\n\n\nTroubleshooting: Why Didn't Your Seeds Germinate?\n\n\n\nDid your seeds not germinate when you planted them indoors? Here are the main reasons that you can use for some DIY troubleshooting:\n\n\n\nYou planted the seeds incorrectly - too deep or not deep enoughYou over\/underwatered your seedsYour potting mix didn't have proper drainage or you used a garden soil mix with pathogens that potentially caused damping offYou used seeds that had already expiredYou provided your seeds with the wrong amount of light (too much or too little, depending on the seed)\n\n\n\nIn most cases, your seeds didn't germinate due to user error, which is nothing to be ashamed about. Most seeds grow very quickly, so it's not difficult or expensive to start again. Just keep trying and work out the kinks along the way.\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nStarting from seeds indoors can be a fun way to start your garden at any time of the year. And even though this article is long, it's typically a pretty simple process. Take what you've learned and get started with your very own indoor garden today!