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Charley's Greenhouse
17979 State Route 536
Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
Fax 360-873-8264

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Indoor Seed Starting

Sowing Seeds

Seeding in pot-paks and/or flats is most convenient. Sterilize all "used" pots, flats, and tools with Physan 20 (R3620) before you start. Use only sterilized starting mix to help prevent damp-off disease. Mix very fine seed with fine sand or milled sphagnum moss. Scatter over growing medium.

Generally, sow small seed 1/2" apart - larger seeds 1" apart. Most fine seeds don't need to be covered. Cover other seeds with a sifting of fine soil. Use a fine mist sprayer to mist thoroughly. Do not let seeds dry out. Cover your planting with a dome to reduce evaporation and maintain humidity.


Seeds need darkness, moisture and heat to germinate. Place in a dark, warm area. Do not let them dry out. Check regularly and water. They already have enough food stored inside, so they do not need fertilizer yet.

Most seeds germinate best at a constant temperature between 65° F to 75°F. For accelerated, superior success, use a heat mat or heat cable under your plantings. Consistent warmth at the root level is the secret to producing strong, healthy roots quickly.

Seedling Stage

When the majority of the seeds have sprouted, move them off any bottom heat source and remove the dome. Place them 8"-10" under a fluorescent grow light and water them with a diluted all-purpose fertilizer. Take care to keep them out of any cold draft, which might damage the still fragile seedlings.

When seeds germinate, the first leaves to appear are called the seed leaves (cotyledons). These are usually a pair of oval leaves that bear no resemblance to the mature leaves of the plant.


A general rule of thumb is to transplant only after 2 pair of true leaves have grown. (For larger seedlings, such as cucumbers or squash, however, plants are big enough to handle before the true leaves develop.) Prior to transplanting, fill clean pots with pre-moistened potting soil. Make a small hole in the center of each pot to accommodate the transplant.

Removing tiny seedlings from the sowing container into larger pots is a delicate business! As seedlings stems are easily bruised, always handle seedlings by their seed leaves. To facilitate removal of the seedlings, a tapered stick or narrow flat-ended screwdriver works. Our Miniature Rake/Spade (T4551) is an excellent tool for transplanting, as well as grooming small potted plants. Use care not to damage the delicate roots. Where several seedlings are growing in a very small space, it is best to transplant a clump of seedlings and then snip off all but one or two.

After easing a seedling out, move it directly into its new pot and firm potting soil around the delicate root system while still holding onto a seed leaf. Water with a gentle spray of lukewarm water. As feeder roots are invariably torn and more likely to be damaged by fertilizer salts, avoid using fertilizer at this time. After about 2 weeks, start fertilizing with an all-purpose, liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/4 strength.

Pots / Flats / Domes
Heat Mats
Propagation Cells & Trays
Soil Heating Cables
Fine Watering
Fluorescent Lighting
All Propagation