How to Start Strawberry Seeds Indoors With an ESS Carton


Maybe you've heard that you can't grow strawberries from seeds. It's true---but not entirely. You can't grow the types you buy from your grocer from seeds. The simple solution is to grow the alpine strawberry, or Fragaria vesca, which is typically propagated from seeds. These plants aren't as productive as hybrid varieties, but they're more intensely flavorful than any you've every purchased. Start them indoors in an egg carton nursery flat about 10 weeks before the last expected frost for your area. Use either cardboard or Styrofoam. When the time arrives, plant individual seedling cells of a cardboard carton directly into the garden without disturbing delicate roots. If you use Styrofoam, the strawberry plant's rootball will slip easily from its cradle when thoroughly moistened.

Step 1

Cut the top from an empty egg carton. If the top has holes in it, cover them with duct tape. Set it aside to use as a drip tray. Poke two or three holes in the bottom of each cell with a toothpick. Fill the cells with seed starting mix. Set the seed flat in a shallow pan of warm water until the soil surface feels moist. Remove the flat from the water and allow it to drain well for about two hours.

Step 2

Scatter a few of the very tiny strawberry seeds in a shallow bowl. Dampen a toothpick and touch it to a single seed, which will stick to the moist pick. Nudge the seed against the soil to rub it off onto the surface. Sow one seed in each cell of the egg carton.

Step 3

Barely cover the seeds with one-eighth of an inch of soil. Use a repurposed plastic spray bottle filled with water to spritz the soil surface so that it's evenly moist. Set the seed flat in the drip tray and seal them in a clear plastic bag. This will maintain the necessary high humidity level.

Step 4

Place the seed flat in a warm spot out of direct light. Your strawberry seeds will germinate in three to four weeks.

Step 5

Check the egg carton seed flat every day. Don't allow the soil to dry out. Water just enough to keep the surface evenly moist, but not soggy or wet.

Step 6

Remove the plastic bag when the strawberry plants sprout. Move them to a warm windowsill out of direct sunlight. Continue to keep the soil evenly moist, and mist the seedlings whenever you water them. Begin feeding a water-soluble liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Dilute it to half strength. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.

Step 7

Move your strawberry seedlings to individual 4-inch pots when they have several sets of leaves. Cut the egg carton cells apart and plant each in its own container of good all-purpose potting soil. Continue to keep the plants warm and give them plenty of bright indirect light. Gradually acclimate them to living outdoors when they're about 3 inches tall and all danger of frost has passed for your area.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean repurposed egg carton
  • Duct tape
  • Toothpicks
  • Seed starting mix
  • Shallow bowl
  • Repurposed plastic spray bottle
  • Clear plastic bag
  • Water soluble liquid fertilizer
  • 4-inch pots
  • All-purpose potting soil


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Who Can Help

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Keywords: strawberry seeds, Planting, Egg carton

About this Author

Axl J. Amistaadt began as a part-time amateur freelance writer in 1985, turned professional in 2005, and became a full-time writer in 2007. Amistaadt’s major focus is publishing material for GardenGuides. Areas of expertise include home gardening, horticulture, alternative and home remedies, pets, wildlife, handcrafts, cooking, and juvenile science experiments.