Caring for Seedlings

They're up! Now what do I do?

You put your seed cups over a warm place. And now they have sprouted and are ready to go into the light. This is the time you need to pay close attention to your seedlings. They are young, tender, and can fail without care.


1. Find a light source:

If you are lucky to have an indoor greenhouse with grow lights, place your seedling trays there. If not, any sunny window will be fine. This is a picture of an inexpensive greenhouse I purchased from Ocean State Job Lot that you can get now. If you are serious about growing plants indoors, maybe some herbs all winter, this is a good investment.
If using grow lights, put pots a few inches from the light to prevent the seedlings from getting tall and thin. Plants will always stretch to a light source. As the seedlings grow, lower the pots so they do not touch the lights and burn.

2. Label your trays:

We all think we will keep these seedlings straight in our mind, but don't count on it. It is easy to distinguish between vegetables, such as a tomato from a pepper. But if you have different varieties of a vegetable, you'll be happy later if they are labeled. A cherry tomato looks too much like a slicing tomato as a seedling.

3. Keep the soil moist:

Seedlings need water but don't drown them! If seedling dry out, they will die quickly. But if they are sitting in water, they will rot. Keep a watering schedule: a little bit every day, or more water every two days. Press your finger on the top of the soil to test for moisture. If the soil is dry, it needs water.

4.Getting ready for the outside:

Your seedlings have been pampered for weeks. Now they need to get ready for the outside without a shock. Wind, rain, and cool nights will cause your seedling transplants stress. There is a process called "hardening off". Simply, put your seedling trays outside for two or three hours on a nice sunny day for at least a week to get your plants acclimated to the outside weather. Then, your seedlings will be ready to be planted in your garden bed.

Zinnias and Marigolds

Flower seeds started indoors will be ready for planting in mid May.
You can save money by growing annual flowers from seed instead of buying flowers at the nursery.