How to Raise Plants From Seed


Raising plants from seed is not difficult. Although you can sow some seeds directly in the ground, you may be better off starting the seeds indoors so they are ready for transplanting outdoors after the risk of frost has passed. Germinating and growing seedlings inside requires minimal tools and equipment. Depending on the plant, your seedlings should be ready for outdoor planting in 3 to 4 weeks.

Step 1

Sterilize your potting soil or use a sterile medium like peat, vermiculite or perlite. To sterilize potting soil, place a pan of soil in a 250-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Measure the inner temperature of the soil. Once it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the soil is sterile.

Step 2

Fill your peat pots or trays with the soil or medium. Leave about 1/4 inch between the surface of the soil and the edge of the pots.

Step 3

Plant the seeds about twice their diameter deep or as indicated on the seed packet. For example, plant a 1/8-inch-diameter seed 1/4 inch deep. Cover the seeds with soil.

Step 4

Water the pot or tray thoroughly, but don't allow water to stand on the surface.

Step 5

Cover the peat pot with plastic wrap to keep the moisture inside the pot.

Step 6

Place the pot or tray in a warm, dark location. Depending on the plant, you should see germination and a pair of leaves within 1 to 3 weeks.

Step 7

Once you see the seedling's first two leaves, remove the plastic wrap and begin placing the seedlings in the sun for 2 or 3 hours.

Step 8

Increase sun exposure by 60 to 90 minutes per day until your seedlings can tolerate a full day's sun.

Step 9

Allow the seedlings to grow for 2 to 4 weeks and transplant the young plants outdoors after the risk of frost has passed.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterilized potting soil or peat, vermiculite or perlite
  • Oven
  • Peat sprouting pots or trays
  • Seeds
  • Water
  • Plastic wrap


  • North Dakota State University: How to Succeed at Seed Starting
  • Colorado State University Extension: Start Seeds and Transplants in Sterilized Soil
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Starting Seeds Indoors

Who Can Help

  • Washington State University: Seed-Starting Techniques and Best Practices
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks Extension: Seed Starting and Transplanting
Keywords: germinating from seeds, growing from seeds, indoor seedlings

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.