When to Start Seeds Indoors

While most seed companies will put a recommended timeframe that you should start seeds indoors on the package, I will list some recommendations here.  This list will also include the average time it takes for the seeds to germinate.  If this conflicts with what it recommended by the seed vendor, please follow the vendors instructions as they know their product the best.

  • Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Eggplant, and Lettuce should all be started 8 weeks before the last frost.  Generally it takes five to ten days to germinate, and these plants prefer a germination temperature of around 70F.
  • Peppers should be started 8 weeks before the last frost.  Generally it takes between 5 and 10 days to germinate, and prefers a germination temperature of around 80F.
  • Tomatoes should be started 6 weeks before the last frost.  Generally it takes between 5 and 10 days to germinate, and prefers a germination temperature of around 80F.
  • Watermelon, Cantaloupe,  Muskmelon , Cucumbers, and Squash should be stared about 4 weeks before the last frost.  Generally it takes 5 to 10 days to germinate, and they prefer a germination temperature of around 85F.
  • Artichokes, Leeks, Onions, and Celery should be started 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost.  Generally they take between 6 and 10 days to germinate and prefer a germination temperature of around 70F.

A common mistake people make is trying to start seeds indoors sooner than recommended.  They believe that this will give them an advantage.  This should only be done if you plan on using a cold frame in your garden to protect young seedlings from frost.  Otherwise if you plant your seeds to early you may end up with leggy seedlings that won’t transplant as well.

Remember that your seeds need to be kept moist, but not soaking wet.  If the seeds are too wet they may rot.  A fine mist sprayer is the best tool to use to keep you seeds wet, but not too wet.  Please refer to the other articles to grow the best seedlings.

2 comments

  1. smithinparis

    Thanks for the wonderful tips!
    I’m a beginner gardener, I’ve been at it for a few years now, but with a couple of young kids and tons of work to do around the house, I’ve never had much success in the garden because I have never really had the time to devote to it.
    Well this year, I’m going to get it right (the kids are now old enough to help with the weeding) ;)
    I just wanted to say a big thank you for your helpful tips (especially regarding starting plants indoors), and please keep it up!
    What region are you gardening?

  2. Pingback: Indoors Plan Gardener

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