Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (2024)


Written By Kelly Keating

Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (1)

Starting seeds indoors can be confusing, especially if you're new to it. You might be unsure about what you really need and if it's necessary to spend a lot of money. I understand where you're coming from.

Many resources out there have great setup ideas, but they often overlook the beginners' perspective. They make it too complicated, but in my opinion, simplicity is key when you're just starting out. You can always upgrade your setup as you gain experience and passion for it.

So, here's a straightforward and hassle-free indoor seed starting setup for beginners.

The items listed are accompanied by affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if a purchase is made through my links. This has no impact on the cost to the consumer. I link to products this way whenever possible, and it has no bearing on the products I choose to review or recommend.

Essential Equipment to Successfully Start Seeds Indoors

Here are the basic materials you need to get started with indoor seed starting:

  1. Seeds: The most obvious is high-quality viable seeds that you plan to grow indoors. Some good companies with quality seeds are Botanical Interests and Burpee.

  2. Seed starting mix: A lightweight, well-draining mix is essential. Some people make their own but if you are just starting I recommend buying a mix. It will be more affordable in the long run. Want some recommendations, check out some of my favorite seed-starting mixes.

  3. Table: I personally use a folding tray table to save space and when I'm not using it I can fold it up and put it away. You literally can use any surface like tables, counters, on top of radiators, etc. You don't need to buy an elaborate large shelving system at this point.

Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (2)

4. Grow Light: Sunlight is the best for plants, but when starting seeds indoors, a grow light becomes essential because once seedlings sprout they need about 16 hours of light.

This artificial light source ensures your seedlings get the consistent light they need without the risk of legginess or overexposure.

LED grow lights are energy-efficient and emit less heat, making them a popular choice among indoor gardeners. This is the grow light I am using that I purchased on Amazon it was extremely affordable and it works very well.

Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (3)

If you happen to have an old lamp lying around, you can simply replace the bulbs with these specialized grow light bulbs. I've personally had great results using these specialized grow light bulbs as well.

5. Pots: The size of your seeds will determine the appropriate pot size. As a beginner, I suggest using Peat pots. These can be directly planted into larger pots or outside, offering the advantage of avoiding any damage to sensitive roots during transplantation.

Small plastic pots are also a great choice for starting out as they are inexpensive and easy to clean/reuse.

6. Seed Trays: Seed trays are where the magic begins. They come in various sizes and shapes, but for beginners, simple plastic trays will do just fine.

Some trays come with a dome lid, which helps maintain humidity levels – a crucial factor in seed germination. Make sure you have a dome. The one I started with I found at the Dollar Tree. In fact you can get a lot of gardening supplies at Dollar Tree.

Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (5)

7. Plant Mister: Overwatering can spell disaster for your seedlings. A plant mister is a perfect tool to provide moisture without flooding the delicate seeds. It helps keep the soil moist, which is vital for the germination process.

Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (6)

8. Heating Element: Seeds need warmth to germinate. While some might do fine at room temperature, others require a bit of extra heat. A heating mat designed for plant trays can provide this warmth, ensuring a better germination rate.

I didn't get this my first year starting seeds and to be honest that was a mistake. This is the one I plan to purchase.

9. Plant labels: It's easy to mix up your seedlings, especially if you're starting multiple varieties. Use plant labels or popsicle sticks to keep track of what you've planted.

If you want to make life even easier you can also purchase seed-starter kits. If you're interested in learning more about my top choices, feel free to click the link above. It will provide you with further details and information.

Starting seeds indoors doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. With the right equipment and a simple setup, you can successfully start your own garden from scratch. As you gain experience and confidence, you can always upgrade your setup to fit your needs. Here's to a happy seed starting!

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If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

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Kelly Keating

Hey there, meet Kelly Keating - a passionate gardener who loves to share her experiences and tips with the world. Her blog posts on Gardener Basics are packed with valuable insights on how to care for your garden, regardless of whether you're new to gardening or an old hand. Want to learn more about Kelly's journey in gardening and her published work in top gardening publications like Today, Homes & Gardens, House Digest, Daily Express, and Ferry-Morse. Check out her full bio!

Seed Starting Simplified: The Essential Indoor Setup for Beginners — Gardening, Herbs, Plants, and Product Reviews (2024)


What herbs are best to start indoors from seed? ›

Thyme, rosemary, basil, sage, chives, and tarragon are great choices to start indoors. The seeds are very fine and take a fair amount of time to germinate. Oregano started by seed may not be true to the type of seed planted, and flavor will vary.

What is the best material to start seeds indoors? ›

The germination medium should be lightweight, porous, and free of pathogens. Excellent seed-starting media are commercially prepared soilless mixes, such as Jiffy Mix. Use a high-quality, well-drained potting mix when transplanting seedlings into individual pots or cell packs.

Is it worth starting seeds indoors? ›

Starting seeds indoors gives your vegetables, herbs, and flowers a head start so they can grow larger and have better (and longer) harvests or flowering periods. With a few basic supplies and a little patience, it's easy and fun to start seeds indoors.

How long does it take to grow herbs from seeds indoors? ›

Annual Herbs

Most annuals can be direct sown (though it won't hurt to start them indoors). Anise will germinate in 10-14 days and will be ready to enjoy in 120 days. Basil will germinate in 5-10 days, and be ready to enjoy in 60-90 days. Summer Savory will be ready in the first season.

What's the easiest herb to grow from seed? ›

Herbs are one of the easier edible plants to grow at home and are generally suitable for beginner gardeners. Some of the easiest are chives, basil, cilantro, and parsley.

What month is best to start seeds indoors? ›

Mid-March is the best time to start many vegetables and annual flowers indoors for transplanting outside once the threat of frost has passed.

What time of year should I start seeds indoors? ›

When should you start seeds indoors? Start seeds six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area. 2 Most plants are ready to go outside four to six weeks after you start the seeds.

How far in advance should I start seeds indoors? ›

The right time to start your seeds indoors varies significantly by crop and location, ranging anywhere from 2–16 weeks prior to transplanting. Use this calculator to ascertain when to start seeds indoors and then to transplant outside, based on the frost-free date in your area.

How many seeds to plant when starting indoors? ›

Add one seed to each pot or cell. Use the crease of the seed packet or place seeds in a creased piece of paper to help direct the seeds where you want them to go. Sometimes not every seed will germinate. To increase your chances of success, add 2-3 seeds to each pot and thin out the extras once everything has sprouted.

Can cucumbers be started indoors? ›

Luckily, they are easy to start indoors and each plant yields a lot of fruit. Cucumbers are easy to grow indoors and started them 4-6 weeks before May 7 will give a convenient jump start to the season. Plant the seeds about a half inch deep in 3″ pots. I recommend only planting 1-2 seeds per pot as they grow quickly.

What is the easiest and fastest plant to grow indoors? ›

Some fast-growing indoor plants include Aloe Vera, Snake Plant, Lucky Bamboo, Jade Plant, Wandering Jew, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Maidenhair Fern, Chinese Money Plant, Pothos, Velvet Plant, Dumb Cane, and English Ivy.

What vegetables can you grow indoors all year round? ›

Root vegetables like carrots, beets and radishes, as well as greens like spinach, Swiss chard and lettuces, can all be grown indoors. Growing fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint and thyme can help elevate your cooking and add some charm to your kitchen decor.

Which herbs grow fastest indoors? ›

Cilantro is a fast-growing herb that will last a few months indoors, due to its tendency to bolt; once it flowers, it turns bitter.

What is the fastest germinating herb? ›

Herbs. Basil and rocket are fast-growing herbs that will pop up quickly in the right conditions. Basil germinates 7-10 days after plants and can be ready in as little as 3-4 weeks. As for rocket, you can expect to harvest in as little as seven weeks.

How do you start an indoor herb garden from seeds? ›

An inexpensive way to grow herbs is from seeds. Fill individual pots, a garden growing tray, a flat of six-packs, or cells with moistened seed-starting mix. Sprinkle one or two seeds lightly in soil of each cell or pocket. In a growing tray create shallow rows and sow according to the seed pack.

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