Cheap & Easy Starts: How to Germinate Seeds at Home

By Heather Rhoades
Published: December 1, 2016 | Last updated: May 4, 2021
Key Takeaways

Buying plants is expensive, but if you learn how to germinate seeds, you’ll never have to worry about spending too much for plant starts again.

Many people will tell you that one of the most expensive parts of gardening is buying the plants. The best way to avoid this problem is to simply grow your own plants from seeds. Once you learn how to germinate seeds, you will always be able to have cheap plants. It is easy to get started with cheap seed starting.


How to germinate seeds

Start with seeds that are less than two years old, a soilless seed starting medium of some kind and a container that can help hold moisture in. A soilless seed starting medium will insure that the seeds and seedlings are not killed by too much salt or salinity frequently found in soil or even regular soilless mixes.

The soilless seed starting medium can be an actual soilless seed starting mix from your local nursery, or a folded paper towel. If you choose to use a paper towel, you will need to move the germinated seeds to soil or another growing medium after they have sprouted.


This container you select should hold in moisture. A plastic container is ideal for this. Some people may use a Tupperware container while others may use a Zicloc bag. The next step is to dampen (but do not soak) the soilless seed starting medium and place it in the container. This will ensure that the seeds continuously receive the appropriate amount of moisture.

Now, find a warm place to put your seeds. Warmth is another important factor that affects seed germination. Many people find that the top of their refrigerator is ideal, but you can use a heating pad set very low or even the top of your TV. Anywhere that has a very low, steady heat. You should always keep your seed germination container out of direct sunlight, even if the package specifies they need sun to germinate. If you need the sunlight, place in indirect light.

Check your seeds often to see if they have sprouted. Germination time for seeds varies and should be marked on the seed packet. Once they have sprouted, vent the container by opening it a little bit. If using a paper towel, move the seedlings to proper soil, otherwise transplant seedlings when they have two true leaves.


Factors that affect seed germination

The factors that affect seed germination vary from plant species to species, but there are a few that are standard. The most commons factors that affect seed germination are moisture, salinity and heat. If the seeds you are growing are not germinated in what is considered a standard way, the seed packet will state this in the directions.

Contrary to popular belief on how to germinate seeds, sunlight is not a standard factor that influences seed germination (unless otherwise stated on the seed packet). In fact, sunlight can do more harm than good as it may overheat the seeds and seedlings and kill them.


Now that you know how to germinate seeds and you can do cheap seed starting, you can grow your own cheap plants!



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Written by Heather Rhoades

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Heather Rhoades is the founder of Gardening Know How, where she continues to write articles and answer questions relating to gardening.

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