Getting Started with Seed Starting

We’ve reached that sweet spot in the flower year. There’s a light at the end of winter and spring is just on the horizon, but the craziness of mid-summer on the flower farm is still a few months away. There’s excitement brewing at the freshness of a new season and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get my hands in the dirt! 

While it’s not quite time to get in the flower field just yet, it is time to get things growing and that means it’s seed starting time! Many of our warm season annuals (think celosia, cosmos, basil, amaranth) are started about 6 weeks before our last average frost date so mid-March is go time for serious seed starting. 

With that in mind, I wanted to round up a short list of resources and supplies that will get you started with seed starting. Whether you’re a newbie or just want a refresher before you get going, I hope that you’ll find this list a helpful guide! 

seed starting

Seed Starting First Steps

Select a location. This can be just about anywhere, but I recommend a basement or spare room where your seedlings can grow, undisturbed by little hands or curious pets. Measure the space for your shelving unit and be sure you have a power outlet nearby. This area can get a little messy (or very messy in my case) so you might want to consider mats or plastic covering to protect the floor. 

Make a plan. Peruse seed catalogs, websites and social media for inspiration and create a list of flowers you plan to grow this year. (You can get my list of Top Cut Flowers for Beginners here!) Once you’ve purhcased seeds, make notes on when and how ecah variety should be started. I use a simple spreadsheet and note what seeds I have to start each week. Make sure you know whether the seed requires light to germinate and preferred temperatures. Not all seeds like the heat mat! 

Purchase seeds. While you can find flower seeds at just about any home and garden store, they don’t always carry the best varieties for cut flowers. You should also consider the price per seed; usually the best prices come in larger quanitites. Try Johnny’s Seeds and The Gardener’s Workshop. 

seed starting supplies

Seed Starting Supplies

Shelving & Lights. Now that you have a plan in place, get started on creating your seed starting room/corner/nook. We use 5-tier metal shelving and two shop lights per shelf. Rather than spending lots of money on expensive grow lights, create your own by pairing one cool bulb and one warm to mimic the spectrum of natural sunlight. We use metal chains and s-hooks to suspend the lights on each shelf. Make sure they’re adjustable so you can move them as your plants grow!

Heat Mats. Most seeds like warm soil temps to germinate, and that’s where heat mats come in. They’re like a heating pad for the plants. They come in multiple sizes, but I like the large size that takes up an entire shelf. This allows me to start multiple trays at once before bumping them all to the next tier. 

Cells, Trays & Domes. When you think seed starting you probabably thing of the cell packs but the trays and domes are equally essential. The cell packs will hold the soil and seed/plant, while the trays are helpful for bottom watering and the clear plastic domes retain moisture for the tender seedlings. 

Soil & Fertilizer. Make sure you’re using a good quality seed starting mix as opposed to standard potting soil. Seed starting medium is light and fluffy, perfect for small roots to emerge. Once the seedlings have established I use Neptune’s Harvest about once a week to give them a little boost of nutrients. A sprayer is helpful for fertilizer application as well as watering before plants are established. 

seed starting tips

Seed Starting Resources 

There’s a lot to learn about seed starting and I think trial and error is the best teacher, but it’s helpful to have some resources to rely on. Here are a few I recommend: 

I've rounded up most of my seed starting essentials on my Amazon Shop (and most are linked here in this post), but you will likely find most of these items in your local garden supply store. I always recommend shopping locally before turning to Amazon! 

And a final parting word on seed starting…. Just remmber that everyone starts somewhere! You’re likely to have just as many failures as success, but try to think of each failure as a learning opportunity. I’m five years into this flower farming thing and I still lose several trays of seedlings per season. Try not to get discouraged, make notes and try something new next time. Wishing you success as you begin your seed starting journey! 


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