Which Plants Get Started From Seed?

Which Plants Get Started From Seed?

Many of our customers are shy about growing plants from seed which is why we frequently hold seminars on seed-starting. We want people to be successful with seeds! Why should you bother growing your own small plants instead of just buying larger ones? Here are some reasons that in some instances seed is better.

  • There are some varieties of plants that are only obtained by growing them from seed. Growers don’t usually offer annuals such as Tassel Flower, Four O’Clocks, or Love-in-a-Mist, for example. So if you want some of these old-fashioned favorites in your garden growing them from seed is the only option. Fortunately, most of them are easy to start indoors. Veggies such as Pak Choi aren’t ever offered in packs or pots, and this is a great vegetable to grow in home gardens.
  • Some plants don’t transplant well, so growing them from seed sown right in your garden is the best option. Annual poppies and Nasturtiums are good examples of plants that do better when grown from seed directly in the flowerbed.
  • Root veggies can’t be started in pots or flats. If you want carrots and beets, you’ll have to sow them outside directly in the veggie garden.
  • Many vegetables such as beans and peas might be available in three or six packs, but for the same price you can have an entire row of these plants instead of three or six. Because peas and beans grow quickly they do better when the seeds are placed right in the soil so their roots can stretch out to match the growth of the plants up above. If a plant has crowded roots it won’t grow as rapidly or as large.
  • In order to have a good crop of some vegetables you’ll need many plants. Corn, for example, needs to be grown in a block of many plants for good pollination, and since each corn stalk only has two or three ears of corn, buying it in three-packs isn’t economically viable.
  • Do you want several perennial plants for the price of one small potted annual? Buy seeds! Many perennials, Echinacea for example, are easy to grow from seed and you’ll end up with many plants for less than $5.00. Perennial seeds are best started in flats or small pots indoors so that the soil can be kept moist while they are germinating.
  • Lettuce does so well from seed, and is so easy to grow, that it’s difficult to understand why people buy the plants already started! For the same price you can harvest ten times the amount of lettuce when you grow it from seed.
These are just a few of the plants that are better grown from seeds.

If you want to try growing plants from seed, here are a few tips: use Seed Starting Mix, not potting soil or garden soil. Get the mix saturated with water before you fill the pots or flats and plant the seed. If you’re using a “seed starting kit” that has a plastic cover, put that on right after you’ve sown the seeds in order to keep your planting mix damp until the seeds sprout. If you’re not using a kit that comes with a clear cover, use a recycled dry cleaner bag or clear plastic wrap.  When planting directly outside, water well with a fine mist of water after planting and check daily to be sure that the area stays moist while the seeds are germinating and the sprouts are growing. Dust newly emerging sprouts with diatomaceous earth to prevent them from being eaten by slugs or earwigs.


  1. Bob Lewsen on March 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you, appreciate the article. I have a raised garden (my knees are artificial so easier to bend over my 2.5′ high garden then to kneel) about 3′ by 24′. Always a tough decision on what to plant. This helps. See you all on Tuesday, 10 March for coffeen.

  2. Mark Kilmurray on March 5, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Living on Cape Cod when would I start growing the seeds inside

    • CLFornari on March 8, 2015 at 12:40 am

      Mark – it depends on what you’re starting. Pepper plants get started in February, for example, because they take longer to germinate and grow. Tomatoes get started in March and Zinnias in Mid-April.

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