Propagating Houseplants: Can You Grow Houseplants From Seed

Propagating Houseplants: Can You Grow Houseplants From Seed

Windowsill gardeners have probably been propagating houseplants since the first person brought the first plant indoors. Cuttings, whether from stem or leaf, are the most common method of propagation. Seeds are less common, yet, there are a couple of good reasons for growing houseplants from seeds.

Why Grow a Houseplant from Seed?

Can you grow houseplants from seed? Yes, and propagating houseplants from seeds will often result in stronger, healthier growth because they are adapted to your home’s unique conditions, such as light and humidity, from the beginning. This early houseplant seed care ensures their chances of survival are much greater than their purchased counterparts.

Another consideration is cost. Houseplant seeds are relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of fully grown plants. For some of us, growing houseplants from seed can be a rewarding hobby, the results of which can be shared with friends.

Unfortunately, while much is written or shared by word of mouth about other methods of replenishing your collection, very little is written about propagating houseplant seeds.

Locating Houseplant Seeds

Houseplant seeds are not as readily available as flower and vegetable seed. Mail order catalogs and online sources are probably the easiest way of securing good quality houseplant seeds. You might also check the seed racks at your local garden center or even the big box stores in early spring when flower and vegetable seeds are on display.

Be careful when you order your seeds for propagating that you don’t over order. Seeds are purchased by weight and houseplant seeds are tiny. Order only what you need at the time being and remember, a little goes a long way.

Most of these botanical beauties originate in the tropics. Therefore, they require no dormancy and will germinate as soon as conditions are right, even if they are still tightly packaged. This makes them difficult to store for future propagating. Houseplant seeds should never be refrigerated, as is sometimes recommended with other seeds. Care should also be taken to keep them dry until ready to use. So plant them as soon as possible.

Propagating Houseplant Seeds

There are a number of container types available: flats, small pots or paper cups. Any small container will do as long as there are small holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill your container with a lightweight growing medium so your germinating houseplant seeds have room to swell and send out roots.

Before adding the seeds, water the containers thoroughly, allowing any excess water to drain. Seed treatments to encourage germination are a recommended part of houseplant seed care, but are not strictly necessary. Experiment a bit to see which gives you the best results.

Sprinkle your seeds sparingly on a white sheet of paper. With a damp finger, lightly touch the seeds. This should make it easier to pick up a few seeds at a time to distribute in each container. Once all the seeds have been delivered, cover them lightly with potting medium. The general rule of thumb is to sow seeds three times deeper than their diameter and this rule holds true for propagating houseplants, too. Some seeds, like those of the African violet, are so small they only need to be set on top and not covered, as they easily nestle into the soil.

Until you see evidence of germination in your houseplant seed, care should be taken when watering. You don’t want to disturb the seed. Keep your containers out of direct sunlight but keep the medium warm.

Depending on the species and your talent for growing houseplants from seeds, you should see the results of your efforts in two to four weeks. Growing a houseplant from seed is a slow process, but there is great satisfaction in adorning your home with your efforts and in giving to your friends and neighbors something you’ve grown just for them.

How to Propagate Your Houseplants to Grow Even More of Them

Depending on the type of plant, there are several techniques for multiplying it into many new ones. Here's what you need to know.

Just about everyone loves houseplants because, in return for a little light and water, they add so much greenery and life to our indoor spaces. Another wonderful thing about them is how easy it is to make more of them through propagation to either expand your own collection or to share with friends. There are actually several ways to grow new houseplants from a "mother" plant: stem or leaf cuttings, division, air layering, and from seeds. The process for each is a little different, and some work better for particular types of plants, so here's your simple guide to plant propagation.

Best Eucalyptus Varieties to Grow

While you can try and experiment with any variety but these are very large trees, and you’ll have to select indoor eucalyptus types carefully. Eucalyptus gunni is most appropriate for indoor growing because of its slow-growing habit and compact size.

You can also grow Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) for 2-3 years in your home until it starts to grow rapidly. One more popular variety is Eucalyptus cinerea. Apart from these three, some others are listed below:

  • Eucalyptus socialis
  • Eucalyptus cinerea
  • Eucalyptus vernicosa
  • Eucalyptus erythronema
  • Eucalyptus gregsoniana
  • Eucalyptus coccifera
  • Eucalyptus archeri

Growing Plants From Seed – 7.409

by S. Newman and L. Langelo * (11/18)

Quick Facts…

  • Some annuals are best seeded directly in the garden in spring.
  • Cold frames allow starting plants as much as six weeks before planting-out time.
  • Do not start plants too soon — they may become crowded and spindly before they can be planted safely outdoors.
  • Plants grown early indoors or in cold frames need to be exposed to the outdoors gradually to avoid shock.
  • Use good, viable seed.


Before seeding, spade the garden area 6 to 10 inches deep. Thoroughly mix in coarse peat, compost or aged manure if the soil is too heavy (clay type) or too sandy. Use 3 cubic yards of organic matter per 1,000 square feet or enough to cover to a depth of 1 inch.

The organic matter helps keep the soil from becoming too compact and holds moisture needed for seed germination. Rake the surface smooth and remove or break down clods larger than the size of a pea. Plant seeds in rows and cover with a fine soil to the depth indi­cated on the seed packet. Mark the seeded rows with identifying labels.

Use good, viable seed. Seed collected from last year’s garden rarely results in the flower colors desired because of interbreeding of varieties. Old seed, unless carefully stored in a cool, dry location, often germinates poorly. It is usually more satisfactory to buy fresh, new seed when growing garden annuals and vegetables. Most seed packets are dated using phrases such as ‘Packed for (Year)’.

Sow seed directly in the garden for the sim­plest way to start plants. It is usually safe to sow the seed outdoors when trees are beginning to produce leaves. See Table 1 for when to start seeds of specific plants.

Keep the seedbed moist at all times. When seedlings appear, thin plants to half the height they are supposed to attain, except for tall, spike-like annuals such as snapdragons, lark­spur and foxglove. Thin these to one-fourth their mature height for a fuller, more showy effect.

Cold Frames

For an early start, sow seed in a cold frame and transplant it into the garden later (see Figure 1). Seed may be started as much as six weeks earlier than outdoors.

Locate the cold frame on the south side of a garage or dwelling. If built with a tight-fitting lid, the cold frame will hold sufficient heat from the sun to keep seed and seed­lings warm at night. On warm, sunny days (50F or warmer), prop the lid open to prevent buildup of excessive heat. Close the lid in the late afternoon to trap enough heat for cold evenings.

Figure 1: A simple cold frame made with 2-inch x 2-inch lumber. Cover hinged lid and sides with translucent (clear) polyethylene plastic. For better insulation against cold, cover both inside and outside to leave an airspace between layers of plastic. An 8-foot frame requires 10 pieces 2 inches x 2 inches, each 8 feet long.

As the season progresses, gradually expose the plants to longer periods of outside temperatures, as long as the air temperature does not go below 50F. Treated in this way, they develop into sturdier plants that are better able to adapt to fully-exposed garden conditions at transplant time. This is particularly true of the hardy annuals and biennials that prefer to develop in cooler temperatures: petunia, ageratum, lobelia, verbena, cabbage, broccoli and lettuce. Use Table 1 to determine when to start seed in the cold frame.

Starting Seed Indoors

If space is available near a sunny window, start seeds four to eight weeks before the plant-out date in your area (average date of last killing frost). Starting too early usually results in spindly plants due to crowding and lack of sufficient light.

Almost any container with drainage holes in the bottom will work for planting. Paper milk cartons cut in half, Styrofoam cups, tin cans, plastic trays and pots are common containers used. For convenience, however, you may wish to start plants in the plastic trays and pots available at garden supply centers.

Use a rich, well-drained soil. Potting soils made for African violets and other house plants usually are suitable and do not have weed seeds. They are, however, more expensive than soil mixes you can make at home. If you use soil from the yard, it should be top soil that is well drained and blended with organic matter.

The best soils are often found around established shrubs and trees. Add sphagnum peat and sharp sand to the soil in a ratio of about one-half volume of each, and mixed thoroughly.

To kill weed seeds and some damaging soil fungi, place the soil mix in shallow trays or baking pans in an oven for 45 minutes at 250F. For best results, the soil should be moist.

After the soil has cooled, fill containers firmly but do not pack. Allow about 3/4 inch from the soil surface to the rim of the container. Place seeds on the soil surface. Use a piece of window screen or old flour sifter to sift soil over the seeds to the depth indicated on the seed packet.

If you use compartmentalized trays or individual peat pots, place two or three seeds in each pot. Do not cover too deeply, as this may reduce or prevent seed germination. As a general rule, cover no more than four times the diameter of the seed.

Apply a fine spray of water to avoid washing the seed, causing them to float to the soil surface. Household spray bottles are suitable. Cover the containers with plastic sheets or panes of glass and place in a cool room (60 to 65F) away from direct sunlight until germination.

When seeds germinate, move them gradually (over two or three days) into brighter light. When the seedlings have developed the first true leaves (the leaves above the cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’), thin to one plant per container if using partitioned trays or peat pots. Use tweezers to pinch off un­wanted seedlings rather than pulling them, to avoid disturbing the remaining seedling.

If seeds were planted in larger containers, transplant into individual peat pots or other small containers. An alterna­tive is to thin the seedlings so they are spread about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart and leave them in the larger containers. This method, however, makes inefficient use of seed and space.

Water seedlings carefully. Small containers used for starting plants dry out quickly. On the other hand, soil kept soaking wet inhibits seed­ling growth and may kill the plants.

About one week prior to planting-out time, gradually expose seedlings to longer periods outdoors unless temperatures are below 50F. At the same time, reduce watering to a minimum as long as plants do not wilt. This will help the plants adjust to full exposure without undergoing undue shock at planting time.

Tips for Successful Seed Sowing

There are a few things to keep in mind when you are growing plants from seeds. Following these easy steps will ensure your seeds get the best possible start so they can grow into amazing plants for your garden.

  1. Use a seed-starting mix.
  2. Provide a minimum of 2-3 inches of seed-starting mix in your containers with proper drainage.
  3. Cover containers with plastic to prevent water from evaporating.
  4. Remove the plastic cover once the seeds start to germinate.
  5. Water your seeds from the bottom.
  6. Don’t let your seeds dry out.
  7. Transplant your seedlings once they grow 1-2 pair of true leaves.

Vegetables That Are Started From Roots or Bulbs

Then there are a handful of vegetables that aren't usually planted from seeds or seedlings at all, but from root divisions or bulbs:

  • Artichokes: Grown by root divisions
  • Asparagus: Planted from 1-year-old roots
  • Garlic and Shallots: Planted from cloves
  • Horseradish: Planted from root cuttings
  • Onions: Planted from sets
  • Potatoes: Planted from seed potatoes/divisions
  • Rhubarb: Planted from root crowns
  • Sweet Potatoes: Planted from slips

Whatever your choice, direct seeding, seed starting or purchasing seedlings, it's best to decide on a strategy well before planting time. Get your plants in the ground as early as possible so they have time to acclimate to the warming weather and to give them the longest growing season possible.

Propagating Houseplant Seeds: Why Grow A Houseplant From Seed - garden

Most homeowners grow houseplants. It might be a Poinsettia plant leftover from Christmas, a Terrarium, floor plants, hanging plants, or any number of varieties of plants that thrive (or simply survive) indoors during winter months.

Most often, houseplants come from the store or are received as a gift. The plant is already growing. You just take care of this living plant. Your challenge, is to keep it alive and growing. indoors.

Did you ever think about taking the next step. growing something from seed as indoor houseplants. It's a bit more of a challenge, yet a lot of fun. It immensely opens up the types of plants you can grow

You will find below, some of our suggestions of the types of houseplants to grow indoors from seeds, and information on how to grow them.

By definition, a houseplant seed is any seed that you use to grow a plant indoors.

Types of Seed for Indoor Houseplants

Technically, almost any seed can be used to grow a plant as an indoor houseplant. Experiment if you'd like. After all, a lot of the fun of gardening, is in experimenting, and the challenge of growing something unique, or in a unique environment.

From a practical sense, the selection of seeds narrows to plants that are smaller, require less light, and those that do well in an indoor environment.

Here are some of our suggestions:

Herbs: as a rule of thumb, herbs are great plants to grow indoors. Select plants that grow short, from a few inches to a foot. As they grow, you can use them in the kitchen! Growing them indoors from seed is the way to go. Our top suggestions are:

    Basil: This plant does well indoors. A sunny window is best. It will be lots of fun to make pesto and your favorite recipes, using basil fresh from your indoor houseplant.

    Cat Grass and Catnip -You'll love it, and so will your cats. Caution: Keep the plant out of reach of your cats.

    Chives: One of the easiest plants to grow indoors or out. These cold hardy perennials don't mind a cool, drafty windowsill. They will benefit from bright sunlight.

    Cress: It grows just 4 to 6 inches tall. It is a great addition to your winter salad greens.

    Lavender: The plant needs full to partial sun. It's scent is a real pleasure when blooming indoors.

    Parsley: Cook and garnish with fresh parsley all winter long. Then, plant this biennial into the herb garden in early spring.

    Tarragon: This plant may grow a little tall (up to 18") for limited spaces. But, if you have the room, you will enjoy growing Tarragon as a houseplant.

    Flowers: Shade loving plants and rock garden plants are great candidates to grow as indoor house plants. Shade lovers are often grown for their foliage, but are readily adaptable inside your home. Among the many ideas, we recommend:

      Alyssum: These low growing plants will look pretty in just about any plant container.

      Cactus - Take up the challenge and grow them from seeds!

      Coleus: Colorful foliage. These are really popular indoor plants. Try them in a hanging basket.

      Vegetables: While you "could" grow vegetables indoors, few are ideal candidates. Most need full sunlight, and take up a lot of space. Imagine growing a pumpkin plant with indoor grow light. The plant takes off, with vines growing 15'-20' across your living room. Given plenty of sunlight, we suggest these candidates:

      Lettuce and other greens, like spinach and Swiss chard, are all possibilities. Your task, is to get them enough light to grow properly. We suggest grow lights.

      Radishes: Like other garden vegetables, it needs full sunlight. But, it's small size and quick growing habit, makes it a potential indoor vegetable plant.

      Green Onions: Scallions and green onions take up little space. These hardy plants can be placed near a cool, drafty window.

      Bulbs and Corms: They are not seeds. But, forcing flowering bulbs to bloom indoors is a favorite indoor winter hobby of many gardeners. Top candidates include Amaryllis, Tulips, and daffodils. See How to Force Bulbs

      How to Grow Houseplants from Seed:

      Seed Starting - For indoor houseplants, start seeds in the pot or container that they will live in all winter. We recommend a heated germination mat, to help promote successful sees germination. More on Seed Germination and indoor plant care.

      Your indoor plants will need fertilizer. Apply regular applications of liquid fertilizer. Or, use houseplant fertilizer spikes.

      Sunlight. Chances are, your indoor environment will not provide enough sunlight for your plants. Don't wait for the plants to appear pale, thin, and lanky. Use indoor grow lights regularly.

      Shade Gardening - Shade plants often make good indoor plants

      Watch the video: 8 Plants You Should Keep In Your Bedroom