Greenhouse Advice

Learn about propagating, or reproducing, plants from seeds, then get some tips for using containers to start the tender seeds.


propagating is great way to use greenhouse

propagating is great way to use greenhouse

Propagating is a great way to use a greenhouse.

It keeps the tender seeds in one convenient location while they get started and allows valuable garden-bed space to be used for larger plants that need the room.

Seed Containers

plastic trays work well for seed containers

plastic trays work well for seed containers

Containers for seed plantings must allow drainage.

Plastic trays or flats work well because they're inexpensive and easy to obtain. Many also have built-in divider rows to help keep seed types separated. For other types of containers, dividers can be made from wood, cardboard, Plexiglas, even old Venetian mini-blinds.

Peat Pots

peat pots work well with plants like dill

peat pots work well with plants like dill

Peat pots work with plants that won't transplant well, such as dill.

The entire pot gets planted and breaks down on its own, supplying nutrients as it decomposes.

Hard-Coated Seeds

hard coated seeds need help to get started

hard coated seeds need help to get started

Hard-coated seeds such as moonflower need a little help to get started.

Scarifying, or cutting or nicking the tip of the seed, gives the seed's energy a place to disperse and start germination. Soak the seeds in water to soften the hull, then use a fingernail file, a pocketknife or even a piece of sandpaper to carefully break though the seed's outer layer.


transplant after plant has shed its seed leaves

transplant after plant has shed its seed leaves

A plastic knife or a pencil can be used to dig right next to the seedling.

They feed the developing plant and will turn yellow and fall off on their own. The true leaves, which look different, will follow and signal the right time for transplanting.

Transplant the Seedling

transplant the seedling

transplant the seedling

Germination mix, which is very fine and holds water, is best for starting seedlings.

Pull and hold the seedling by the leaf, not the stem. Use the knife to make a new hole in a larger pot or garden bed and plant the seedling. Firm up the soil around the stem and be sure it sits at the same depth in the soil that it was during germination. Mist the seedling with water.

Germination Mix

germination mix is best for starting seedlings

germination mix is best for starting seedlings

Figure H

Upon transplanting, use potting mix, which is looser. Plants can also be started from a cutting of an existing plant. Cut a tip, about 3" to 5", as long as it's not absolutely new growth. Pinch off any flower buds and remove any large leaves from the lower part of the stem. Dip the stem in rooting hormone and then plant in a contained mixture of two parts sand to one part peat moss. The cutting is ready to transplant when it develops its own roots and begins to anchor itself in the soil.

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