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5 Tips for Growing Your Vegetable Starts Indoors

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5 Tips for Growing Your Vegetable Starts Indoors

If you are planning to or have started your vegetable seedling indoors, here's reminder of some best practices to keep your seedlings healthy so that you can have the best spring and summer garden possible!


Thin seedlings as they emerge from soil

  • When your seedlings poke through the potting soil in your plug trays, snip all but one of them. Pick out the strongest seedling that you'd like to save and cut the rest out. Of course, it depends on what seed you are growing; for lettuces and herbs, for example, you'll want several per cell as these plants are intended to grow in bunches. Typically, for garden vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, squashes and more, you'll want to only have one seedling per cell.

Touch soil every day

  • As you go on maintaining your seedlings, touching the soil can inform you of how much water they need--if any. Whether you are using potting soil or coco coir, it should feel moist but not soggy at all times. So, if the substance feels moist, check back in a few hours and water them if needed.

Water using a bottom tray

  • Seedlings can be delicate and can get displaced if water abruptly flows from the top. Watering this way can also cause fungal diseases (rare) that can be a problem in the future. That is why we opt for what is called "bottom watering", a method by which you pour water into a bottom tray where the soil in the celled trays can wick it up as it dries. This also helps to prevent over watering as the soil will only draw what it needs.

Provide plenty of light

  • Grow lights are the simplest solution for providing enough light that you seedlings require--at least 10 hours with the full 6500 K spectrum lights. The next best option is to place them next a window (south-facing) where it receives AT LEAST eight hours of sun per day. Otherwise, the seedlings will struggle and affect it ability to reach maturity. Because of this light requirement, many people choose to direct sow their seeds when outdoor temperatures are right.

What to do with extra seedlings

  • It is good to over-plant so you can choose the best seedlings to transplant and subsequently grow in your garden. It can leave you with a surplus of vegetable seedlings, which make a great spring time gift to your neighbors, family, and friends. Often folks remember to start their garden when it is too late. Seedlings are a great surprise for those who missed the window to plant!

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Comments 2
  • LoraLea
    LoraLea

    William Martin…
    Step by Step Guide

    Our garden experts put together an 6 step guide with a few tips and tricks to make transplanting your sunflowers a success. Our guide will help you pick the right time of year, remove the plants then replant them without hurting the plant.
    Step 1: Dig Circle Around Stalk

    Start by digging a circle around each plant. Dig deep enough that you can reach under the root ball and scoop it out.
    Step 2: Remove Seedlings from Pot

    If you started the growing season early using an indoor planter you can loosen the sunflowers from the side by getting the soil wet and gently scooping it from the pot. Don’t let the plant get too tall or it won’t be able to be replanted outside.
    Step 3: Dig New Holes

    Find a new home for the flowers and dig a hole 10 inches deep. If you are moving multiple plants dig each hole at least 12 inches apart so the flowers have room to grow.
    Step 4: Prepare the Flowerbed

    Find a new home for the flowers and dig a hole 10 inches deep. If you are moving multiple plants dig each hole at least 12 inches apart so the flowers have room to grow.
    Step 5: Place Flowers

    Place each sunflower into the holes and cover with dirt until it is level with the ground. If the plants are large you may need to set up supports so it does not fall over when the wind blows. It is also a good idea to cover the soil with a layer of mulch to prevent soil run off when it rains

    The best area to replant sunflowers is in an area with direct sunlight that gets plenty of water.
    Step 6: Water the Garden

    After all the sunflowers have been replanted water the garden enough to make the soil damp. Make sure not to over water or you could wash away valuable soil or introduce root rot to the plants.
    When to Transplant Sunflowers

    The best time of year to transplant sunflowers is when the weather is warm outside and the plants are about 6″ tall. If you started growing indoors in a pot you can replant at the start of the summer.
    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can your transplant sunflowers?
    Yes. Large sunflowers and seedlings can be successfully transplanted and re-potted.

    How deep are the roots of a sunflower?
    Seedlings roots only go a few inches deep but full grown plants can have root balls that go 3 feet deep.

    Can you transplant large sunflowers?
    Large sunflowers can be transplanted but you need to select the location carefully to avoid shock.

  • William Martin
    William Martin

    I have some rather tall (6 inches) sunflower seedlings growing inside a clay pot indoors on a sunny windowsill. Can I replant them and how deep should they be?

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