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Growing Birdseed on Cotton Wool

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017
Sprouting bird seed will not only feed birds but also will help grow plants that attract birds to feeding locations.

According to the University of Florida, pet birds will thrive from a diet of B vitamins. Although many birds get these vitamins from the germ located in a kernel of bird seed, another rich source of the vitamins is the sprout of bird seed. You can grow young bird seed sprouts for feeding to your birds by germinating the seed on cotton wool. Although cotton wool is typically referred to as combed raw cotton fibers, you can also use cotton batting made with natural cotton fibers as your substrate.

Place cotton wool into a plastic potting tray.

Place the potting tray onto a seed germinating mat. Set the mat to 50 degrees F. Sunflower seeds will germinate well if the temperature is between 42 degrees and 50 degrees. If you are germinating seeds indoors instead of in an unheated greenhouse, you will not need a warming mat.

Pour water into the container until the cotton wool is saturated to the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.

Spread bird seed in a thin layer over the cotton wool. Place the cotton wool tray under a grow light or in a south-facing window.

Check the cotton wool daily and water anytime the wool seems to dry out.

Remove seeds when the hulls seem to loosen and green sprouts appear. Place the germinated and sprouted seed out in tray or bowl-shaped bird feeders for birds to find.

Plant germinated seeds in the ground to a depth that is twice as deep as the seed at its widest point. The seeds will grow out of the ground and form plants that will attract birds to the feeder.


Things You Will Need

  • Plastic potting tray
  • Cotton wool
  • Distilled water
  • Seed warming mat
  • Bird seed

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.