How to Plant Seeds for Indoor Seed-Starting

| Plant, Video

Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a jump on the growing season, save a ton of money, and grow out varieties that you normally can’t find in a nursery. In this video, I share the basics of indoor seed starting to easily and successfully sow seeds. 



Seeds can be planted in any kind of container, as long as it has drainage. If you are starting with a container with no drainage, be sure to poke a few holes in the bottom to allow water to run out.

For the best results, it’s important to use a high-quality seed starting mix. Seed starting mix is sterile and designed to hold just the right amount of moisture. It is much better suited to starting seeds than indoor potting soil, which contains ingredients that do not provide the best environment for young seedlings.

Containers can be filled with dry seed starting mix before adding water, but that method tends to create a mess. Instead, I put the seed starting mix in a bucket and add water and stir until the wet mix reaches the consistency of oatmeal. The mix is much easier to work with this way. I scoop it out of the bucket with my hands or just pour the mix directly from the bucket into the container. As I go, I brush my hands over the top of the container to evenly distribute the mix in each cell.


Seed starting mix in a bucket

I stir the seed starting mix in a bucket, adding water until it reaches the right consistency before evenly distributing it into each cell.


Refer to the seed packets for instructions on the correct depth to plant each variety of seed. For seeds that need darkness to germinate, after I plant seeds I go over the top with more seed starting mix to ensure the seeds are fully covered, and lightly tamp it in with my fingers.

Other seed varieties need light to germinate and should simply be spread across the surface of the mix. 

The seed packets will also let you know how many seeds to plant in each cell. You can take great care to get the precise number of seeds in each, but that can be time-consuming. I just hold the seed packet over the cells and tap it to sprinkle out seeds slowly. 

Be sure to add labels so you know what’s what. (I make plant tags using old mini blinds, which is a great way to recycle the blinds while saving a few bucks at the same time.)

To keep the mix moist, you can buy a humidity dome, or you can use something you already have in your kitchen: plastic wrap. The objective is to hold the moisture in while still letting light through.


Indoor Seedlings with grow lights

Once seeds are planted for indoor seed starting, they go under grow lights to produce strong, healthy seedlings.


What are your indoor seed starting tips? Let us know in the comments below.

Links & Resources

Some product links in this guide are affiliate links. See full disclosure below.

Episode 37: Starting Seeds Indoors: The Non-Negotiables for Success, Pt. 1

Episode 38: How to Start Seeds Indoors: The Non-Negotiables for Success, Pt. 2

Episode 39: How to Start Seeds Indoors: Digging Deeper, Pt. 3

Episode 94: How to Start and Care for Seedlings Indoors: My Steps for Success

joegardener blog: The Best Soil Temperature for Seed Germination

joegardener Seed Inventory Chart & Seed Longevity Chart

joegardener Online Gardening Academy™: Three popular courses on gardening fundamentals; managing pests, diseases & weeds; and seed starting!

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Seed Starting: Everything you need to know to start your own plants from seed — indoors and out. Returning in January 2021!

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Growing a Greener World® 


Corona® Tools – Video sponsor and Brand Partner of

*Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we would get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us. None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, and Wild Alaskan Seafood Box. These companies are either Brand Partners of and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.

About Joe Lamp'l

Joe Lamp’l is the creator and “joe” behind joe gardener®. His lifetime passion and devotion to all things horticulture has led him to a long-time career as one of the country’s most recognized and trusted personalities in organic gardening and sustainability. That is most evident in his role as host and creator of Emmy Award-winning Growing a Greener World®, a national green-living lifestyle series on PBS currently broadcasting in its tenth season. When he’s not working in his large, raised bed vegetable garden, he’s likely planting or digging something up, or spending time with his family on their organic farm just north of Atlanta, GA.

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