Container Gardening for Vegetables

Carrots growing in a flower pot

All kinds of vegetables will grow in flower pots, including carrots! Image from Pernaculture for Renters.

Vegetable growing can be a lot of hard work – between the beating they get from tilling the garden and the back breaking bending to place each seed or plant in the ground, many gardeners give up and go shopping at the Farmer’s Market. Although this is certainly a viable solution, you still can’t be sure how your veggies and fruits were handled, or what kinds of chemicals might have been applied to them.

There is another way: container gardening! Containers simplify the labor intensive preparation required of vegetable gardens in areas with troubled soil and even allow apartment dwellers to grow a surprising amount of food in a very small space. With careful planning and the right containers, you can grow almost any type of vegetable in a planter pot, flower box, or hanging basket.

Choosing a Container and Medium

Before you plant your first tomato, pepper, bean, or onion, think about the spaces around your home where a planted container might fit. Small plants with upright growth like bush beans, carrots, beets or lettuce may fit nicely into an extra wide window box. A mixed planting of veggies can be every bit as pretty as flowers. Big hanging baskets are great for vining or tumbling plants like peas, small squash, cucumbers or runner beans.

Lettuce plants in a window box

In the city, grow veggies like lettuce in window boxes. Image from Dig Home Designing.

The selection of potting medium is vital to your success with container gardening. Starting with a sterilized, premixed general potting soil with slow release fertilizer is ideal, though experienced gardeners may choose to mix their own from a variety of sterilized mediums. Worm castings are a common addition to a basic soil mix, helping your container garden retain moisture and improving soil structure.

Caring for Container Veggies

Veggies in containers don’t usually need to be weeded and soil-borne pathogens are rarely problems, but they do require some special care. Since your plants are growing in a very small, limited area, they are going to need you to give them everything it takes for them to survive. Watering, fertilizing and careful pruning will ensure that your plants are all they can be.

Every plant needs water, but a container plant may need to be watered as much as three times a day in the summer. Check the soil a few times a day by sticking your finger in as deeply as you can. If it feels dry below the first knuckle, water the container evenly until water runs out the bottom. Try not to get water on the leaves, since this can invite problems with fungal disease.

Tomatoes growing in a hanging basket

You can even grow vegetables in hanging baskets! Image from Love Apple Farms.

All that watering will drive the nutrients from the soil, which is why a slow-release fertilizer in the mix is a nice bonus. If your plants are starting to produce lighter colored leaves, or just don’t seem quite right, a half-strength dose of water soluble 10-10-10 fertilizer mixed into the watercan may help. Don’t fertilize more than once a week, unless your plants are obviously struggling, and then only do so after performing a soil test.

If frequent watering seems like a challenge, consider a self-watering planter. You can turn any planter into a self-watering one by adding a reservoir. It will hold excess water at the bottom of the planter, and the thirsty plants will pull it up into their roots when they need it.

Some plants, like tomatoes, do better when they’ve been pruned heavily. It may seem counter-intuitive, but if you want big, fat tomatoes from your containers, limit the number of secondary shoots and pinch out excessive growth. Thin other plants, like carrots and lettuce, after seeding to give the strongest plants a little more room.

Recommended Container Size for Common Vegetables

Vegetable Minimum Container Size Spacing
Broccoli 14-inch pot 1 plant per container
Bush Green Beans 10-inch pot or basket
Extra deep window box
2 to 3 inch spacing
Carrots 5-inch pot or basket
Extra deep window box
2 to 3 inch spacing
Cucumbers 10-inch pot 1 plant per container
Leaf Lettuce 8-inch pot or basket
Regular window box
4 to 5 inch spacing
Green Onions 6-inch pot or basket
Regular window box
2 to 3 inch spacing
Peas 6-inch pot or basket
Regular window box
2 to 3 inch spacing
Peppers 10-inch pot or basket 1 plant per container
Summer Squash 14-inch pot or basket 1 plant per container
Cherry Tomatoes 10-inch pot or basket 1 plant per container
Standard Tomatoes 14-inch pot or basket 1 plant per container
composite raised bed garden kit has everything needed.">Composite lumber raised garden bed

How Do You Build a Raised Garden Bed?

Composite lumber raised garden bed

A composite raised bed garden kit includes everything needed.

We all imagine that our gardens will be beautiful, thriving oases of green, springing right out of the ground, but it’s not always possible without a great deal of hard work and manipulation of native soils that may be full of clay, rocks or sand. Enter the raised bed garden! Whether you need to raise your beds just above the ground and start with fresh soil, or bring your garden up to a height where bending is no longer necessary, raised beds may be the perfect solution to your gardening problems.

Benefits to Raised Bed Gardening

Raised beds are great in areas where the soil is difficult to work, or when you want to add an elevated feature to your landscape – kits are available to build complicated garden shapes that can be useful to segregate herbs in gardens or aggressive plants that may escape a traditional garden and run wild. When you build a raised bed, you have a unique opportunity to tailor the soil conditions to the plants you intend to grow, rather than having to force those conditions onto soil that may be resistant.

Many gardeners prefer to use raised beds for vegetables and small fruits, since they can be caged with strong wire to protect seedlings and young transplants from wild animals. Sometimes, gardeners build custom-fit plastic hoop houses for their raised beds – when properly designed, these additions allow gardeners to get a jump on planting, since they act like tiny greenhouses.

Decorative raised garden bed

Raised garden beds can take fanciful shapes.


Raised Bed Gardening Challenges

Unfortunately, raised gardens don’t function exactly the same as plowed garden plots, and may sometimes require a great deal of manual care, especially when the time comes to clean up dead plants after harvest. Instead of plowing plants back into the soil, it’s often less disruptive to pull them out of the bed, leading to significant time investments. Of course, if you only have a few beds, or your raised bed plants are perennials, this isn’t a concern.

The size of a raised bed is limited by your ability to reach across it, and, in the case of a raised garden on legs, the weight of wet soil. This is why raised beds are rarely more than four feet across – most people can reach two feet into the bed from either side. You must be careful to prevent soil compaction caused by walking or leaning on the soil in the bed, or plant roots may have trouble penetrating. In addition, a bed that’s only four feet wide shouldn’t be expected to accommodate anything bigger than a four or five foot wide bush, limiting your planting options.

Setting Up Your Raised Beds

Planning and setting up your raised beds is a precision task, though one easy enough for a homeowner with a few simple tools. The most important part of planning is choosing your bed’s location – after all, they’re not exactly easy to move once constructed and filled with soil. For example, you would place a raised bed intended for vegetables in a location that gets at least eight hours of bright sunlight each day, instead of in a spot that suddenly becomes shady when the trees leaf out.

Many people start their first raised beds with commercial kits containing cedar or composite boards and specially designed joints that ensure their garden comes out perfect. You can prolong the life of your garden by placing the frame on top of a geotextile fabric that will prevent perennial weeds from working their way up through the soil. Never use black plastic, as this material can cause drainage problems under raised bed gardens.

Once in place, you need only fill your bed with lots of rich, well-draining soil and pop your plants into their new homes. You can even build trellises over the beds to allow vining plants to climb unhindered, or train them into a central arch that runs between two beds. Raised gardens allow nearly endless possibilities for a gardener with a creative streak.

Hands mixing potting medium

How to Make Soilless Potting Mix

Hands mixing potting medium

Purchase a pre-made soilless potting mix or mix your own growing medium. Image from UW Garden Guide.

Flowers springing merrily from dirt-filled pots and planters is a sight that we take for granted. After all, aren’t plants supposed to thrive in dirt? The truth is, planting in containers requires a little more finesse, since you’ve got to encourage the medium to hold moisture against the plant’s roots while draining away any standing water to prevent drowning them.

It’s lucky for us, then, that agricultural scientists realized that by using soilless potting mix, both goals can be accomplished simultaneously, while still creating a sterile growing environment for plants that might be susceptible to soil-borne diseases.

What is Soilless Growing Medium?

Soil less growing media is exactly what it sounds like: a material designed for growing plants that contains no garden soil, sand or clay. Soilless potting mixes have a light texture, creating an ideal environment for seeds to germinate and roots to penetrate deeply without obstacles. It’s important that plants in containers are able to gather nutrients as efficiently as possible because they can’t spread far.

Creating the best soilless mix is the aim of many home gardeners, who start with a basic soilless mix recipe and make subtle changes until it meets their needs. Most recipes have a few common ingredients: a material to hold water, another to prevent compaction and something to provide fertility. When these elements come together properly, the end result is a mix with a near-neutral pH to ensure the optimal utilization of nutrients in the plants you grow.

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Worm Castings in Soilless Mixes

Researchers experimented extensively with worm castings and their effects on plants in the 1980s, and came to a few conclusions:

  • Worm castings contain similar nutrients to other organic fertilizers, but because of the biology of the worms, the nutrients are in forms more useful to plants. Other organic fertilizers rely on microbes to break them into useable forms – it takes time to acquire these tiny helpers in sterilized medium.
  • Vermicompost (worm castings with some worm bedding left behind) encourages faster germination of seeds than commercial growing media. Plants in their tests also grew bigger in vermicompost-based mixes.
  • Mixing vermicompost, which tends to have a high pH, with peat, which tends to have a low pH, creates a medium with a naturally neutral pH. A medium with this combination of materials does not usually need the pH artificially adjusted, simplifying the work of the container gardener.

For these reasons, we recommend adding worm castings to soilless growing mixes.

Soilless Mix Recipes

A basic, but effective soilless potting mix starts with peat, perlite and an organic fertilizer, such as worm castings. For transplants, mixing one part peat, one part worm castings and one part perlite, by volume, creates a suitable medium. Seed-starting mixes should contain half as much perlite to help seedlings maintain a slightly higher humidity level. Adding about a half-ounce of Epson salts per cubic foot of either mix will create a complete nutrient profile.

Worm casting fertilizer from Hooks & Lattice will turn your soilless potting mix recipe on its ear, adding a fertilizer that can last all year while helping to maintain proper moisture for your plants. Available in both five and 10-pound bags, our worm casting fertilizer is ready for any size container garden.

Our Favorite Plants for Terrariums

The venus fly trap grows well in terrariums, like this Crosswinds tabletop terrarium. Image from Exotic Plants.

The venus fly trap grows well in a tabletop terrarium. Image from Exotic Plants.

Terrariums are all the rage. Pinterest is full of the most popular and clever combinations in an endless assortment of clear glass containers, ranging from re-purposed jars to the newest in commercially-available designs. Big or small, everybody loves a terrarium! Choosing the best plants for terrariums can be tricky for a first time indoor gardener, but those species that thrive in containers have a few common features, narrowing your choices a little.

Small Size: Selecting miniature plants for terrariums may seem like a no-brainer, but because many greenhouse plants flower or appear fully grown long before they’ve reached their full potential, it’s important to understand the size of that plant you’re considering before purchasing it. Terrariums can last many years if properly sized plants are chosen, but if the second-season growth of one of your plants is explosive, a small terrarium will be overwhelmed.

Humidity Tolerance: Terrariums are often very humid places because air circulation is poor in these mostly-closed vessels. Although a variety of semi-aquatic and rainforest plants prefer these conditions, other plants, like desert cacti, can’t handle this weather inside a terrarium over the long-term. Before you take that new plant home, make sure it loves humidity, or else start a dish garden for it and some friends that need a more arid environment.

Air plants are popular choices for hanging terrariums.

Air plants are popular choices for hanging terrariums.

Thermostat-Friendly: Even though most plants will grow at room temperature, not all will be at their best. Many species require very cold or very hot spells to induce dormancy or flowering. Without completing their natural cycles, these plants will slowly decline, forcing you to tear your terrarium apart to replace them sooner than their companions. If your initial selections can’t flower or rest at room temperature, you should keep shopping.

Shade Lovers: Unless you intend to artificially light your new terrarium with very bright florescent bulbs, the chances are that your plants will have to manage under low lighting conditions. Terrariums don’t do well directly in windows, all that glass can magnify ultraviolet rays and cook your plants! Lots of plants thrive in lower lighting conditions, just make sure to purposefully choose the ones that don’t need a daily sun bath.

Low Care: Some plants are prima donnas, demanding extra special care and purified water in small doses each day. One of the best things about terrariums is their ability to be somewhat self-sufficient – adding needy plants is right out. Forget the mini roses, the tiny orchids or anything else that needs to be pampered and stick with hardy, tough plants that complement your terrarium’s overall design.

With these factors in mind, here are some of our favorite terrarium plants:

Plants for Terrariums
Common Name Scientific Name
Rosary Vine Ceropegia woodii
Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum
Earth Star Cryptanthus bivittatus
Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula
Gold Dust Dracaena Dracaena godseffiana
Sundew Drosera spp.
Creeping Fig Ficus pumila
Hawthornia Hawthornia spp.
Shamrock Oxalis spp.
Watermelon Peperomia Peperomia sandersii
Dwarf Pomegranate Punica granatum nana
African Violet Saintpaulia ionatha
Strawberry Begonia Saxifraga stolonifera
Irish Moss Selaginella spp.
Airplant Tillandsia stricta
A flower box beneath a window with shutters

What Size Window Boxes Should You Use?

A home with several window boxes

A good rule of thumb: Match the width of the flower box to the width of the window. Use smaller flower boxes on smaller windows, and larger ones on larger windows.

Matching the right window box to your home can add curb appeal, but there are many things to consider before making a final decision. What materials should the box be made of? How big should the box be? What size and depth is best for the plants that you want to pair with your home?

A flower box beneath a window with shutters

For windows with shutters, consider using a flower box wider than the window.


Window Box Length Tips

Once you’ve settled on a flower box material and style, deciding how long your new window boxes should be is the next big decision. In general, window boxes look best if they are the same width as the window, but there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if your home has shutters or wide exterior trim pieces, you may want your window boxes to run under these architectural features or sit slightly inside. Since many windows are around three feet long, almost every window box style is available in 30″ and 36″ lengths.

When placing a window box on a deck or porch railing, it should fill the space without making the railing unusable. Leave several inches between the end of the window box and any steps so that your growing plants don’t make these spaces unsafe. Use a cardboard cut-out or chalk outline to help yourself visualize the perfect window box for your space if you’re unsure of the right size.

an eight foot long window box under a window

This 96″ long window box was custom made for a homeowner who wanted something impressive! Very long flower boxes look stately.

For a very long window, railing, or fence, you can either mount several small window boxes or one large one. Most Hooks & Lattice window boxes can be purchased in 60″ and 72″ lengths, and many can be manufactured in even larger custom sizes. We’ve built flower boxes over 100″ inches long! Long window boxes look dramatic and impressive; just remember that you’ll probably need some serious help to lift and mount them.

An XL window box

This extra-wide, extra-deep window box has lots of room for plants and their roots.


Window Box Depth & Width

Window box suppliers like Hooks & Lattice usually offer our most popular boxes with standard dimensions and extra-large boxes that are wider and deeper than usual. Standard boxes are a good fit for many homes, but sometimes the extra-large flower boxes are more appropriate. Organic Gardening magazine recommends measuring the height of your windows before settling on a size. A box that is 20 to 25 percent of the height of your window feels adequately robust on most homes. If you choose very large brackets for your flower boxes, consider their visual impact in your decision as well.

Bigger boxes have a practical benefit: Because they hold more soil, they won’t dry out as quickly, and so they will allow you to plant less drought-tolerant plants. For this reason, we recommend that gardeners in hot climates use XL hayrack window boxes instead of hayrack planters in normal sizes. Deep flower boxes also work better for perennial plants, which tend to root more deeply than annuals. Extra-large boxes are more flexible to plant, even allowing multiple rows of small annuals if you want to create layers of colors.

This cedar flower box is just 6" deep, so your flowers will draw most of the attention.

This cedar flower box is just 6″ deep, so your flowers will draw most of the attention.

On the other hand, shallow boxes look nice on homes with delicate features, since the smaller box and brackets won’t overwhelm the home’s architectural details. Small window boxes won’t stand out in an obvious fashion, instead providing a subtle space for gardening. Our Tapered Cedar Window Box is just 6″ high, putting the spotlight on your plants. These smaller boxes are great for annuals, herbs and artificial plants. Because they hold less soil, they’ll weigh less, making them easier to lift and mount.

As with any décor decision, you should be aware of these design suggestions but ultimately choose whatever looks best to you. Don’t be afraid to defy convention! With some skill, almost anything can look great. Above all, window box gardening should be a fun and relaxing way to express your creativity. Experiment with different options and find the one that suits your style. Need flower box sizing advice? Comment below and we’ll let you know what we think!

How to Decorate with Hanging Glass Terrariums

A grouping of hanging terrariums with air plants.

Fill glass terrariums with air plants for a low-maintenance hanging garden.

Hanging glass terrariums are everywhere these days, popping up in florists’ shops, homes and even on the web. These delicate glass ornaments are an attractive design element on their own or when decorated with small plants, sandy shells, or mosses, but when grouped and played against one another they can really make your living space chic. How can you add some stylish terrariums to your home? Here are some helpful tips.

What can you use to fill your terrarium?

Although you can fill hanging terrariums with just about anything, some elements are pretty common: plants, water, flowers, candles, rocks, shells, and tiny statues top the list of go-to fillers. Some of these things work better than others, if you’re planning on keeping your terrarium stocked for the long haul.

Plants: Air plants, members of the genus Tillandsia, are far and away the best plants for hanging terrariums. They require little care and are adapted to living in environments where deep rooting isn’t possible. These plants bloom in many colors, and best of all, many remain very small throughout their lives. Small aquatic plants and live mosses can be good choices if you remember to water them regularly. Colored sand, water and clean soil are common mediums for plants in globe terrariums.

Candles: Use small glass globes to easily suspend candles in midair. Glass catches the light in lovely ways, and tea lights are always inexpensive. There’s no need to worry about wax dripping anywhere or a fire hazard (as long as you securely hang your terrarium globes).

Other Decorations: If you opt out of live plants, the world is your oyster. You could fill your terrarium with dried mosses, pebbles, marbles or glass beads as a base for your soon-to-be original designs. Rocks, dried plants, tiny statues, shells and glass sculptures do well in globe terrariums intended for long-term use because they can tolerate the humidity that may build inside these glass balls when plants are included in your design. Dry terrariums may benefit from the addition of preserved plant materials like lichens, dried flowers or seed pods.

Cut flowers in terrariums at a wedding

Glass globe terrariums filled with cut flowers can add to special event decor. Image from Isari Flower Studio.


Combining multiple terrariums

Glass terrariums are flexible decorating pieces, useful for both short-term and long-term projects. Imagine the fun of a holiday party punctuated with themed terrariums sitting around a decorated buffet table or how a single, planted terrarium would brighten your office. Even outdoor weddings are enhanced by glass terrariums with floating candles when they’re strung as a background to the bride and groom.

People are making some cool things out of glass terrariums for their everyday lives, too. A plain light fixture with a wire frame can be upcycled into a unique, personalized chandelier with the addition of about 10 small terrariums hung at varying lengths all around the light. The same concept, applied to a grid structure, creates an interesting piece to hang over your dining table, kitchen island or in the middle of a living room.

You can take the concept further and create curtains from dozens of floating glass terrariums hung from a horizontally-mounted wooden or metal support. Open floor plan homes are great for flexibility, but it can be difficult to differentiate between the spaces. A divider made from a floating glass terrarium curtain will allow you to feel like each space is clearly defined while leaving the brightness and openness of your home intact.

Tabletop or wall-mounted tree branches make a great place to display just a few small hanging terrariums. You can even reuse old multiple pane windows by removing the glass and hanging terrariums inside each section and wall-mounting or hanging your creation from the ceiling.

The design possibilities are endless with globe terrariums, whether you choose just one for a small project, or a whole case of assorted sizes and shapes for something much bigger. Check out the wide selection of ready-to-fill hanging terrariums available at Hooks & Lattice.


A landscaper in a garden

How to Hire a Landscaper for the First Time

A landscape design for a garden

A landscape designer can transform your garden.

You’ve finally purchased the home of your dreams, but it’s lacking the beautiful garden, manicured lawn, and white picket fence that you always imaged. Why not let a pro handle it? You can hire a landscaper to deal with the little details and get your gardening and lawn care started right. Before you know it, you’ll be able to hold your head up high when people ask, “Who owns that house with the beautiful landscaping?”

Finding the right landscape designer for your needs, however, can be challenging. Here are our tips for hiring a landscaper.

How to Find a Good Landscaper

Check with Professional Landscaping Associations. Those landscapers who are true professionals will belong to local or regional professional associations. These groups maintain lists, often on their websites, of available landscapers in your area. Bonus points to landscapers who belong to more than one of these associations. One example is the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, which has local chapters in many states and regions.

Ask Around. Your friends, family and coworkers are often the best source of leads for professional services. They’ve already been through the process of hiring a landscaper and will happily share their experiences, both good and bad. Even if they can’t give you the name of someone that is available to work on your property, they can certainly tell you who not to hire, and that’s half the battle.

Check the Web. Many people today hire professionals from referral services like Angie’s List or Yelp. These types of websites allow people who have hired a contractor to leave feedback so that others will know about the level of service the landscaper provides.

Questions to Ask Potential Landscapers

A landscaper in a garden

A great landscaper will be your partner in creating a beautiful garden.

Now that you know how to find a good landscaper for your property, you should compile a list of questions to ask each landscaper you interview. (You weren’t thinking about hiring the first person that answered the phone, were you?) Aside from establishing pricing and availability, you need to know that the person you’re hiring is properly licensed and that they have the right equipment to perform the work your landscape demands.

Licenses and Certifications: Not all landscapers are created equally – hiring a landscaper means asking probing questions of the person or company you’re interviewing. Many municipalities and states require licensing for selling plants to customers or applying pesticides, for example. Other laws may govern who can use certain titles, based on licensing or certification. It’s good to know that your soon-to-be landscaper can legally perform the tasks your landscape requires long before you bother with pricing.

Professional Services: Some landscapers specialize in specific areas of plant or grounds care, such as organic pest management or tree health. Make sure that your potential landscaper is not only able, but willing and knowledgeable in areas that are vital to your job or has someone available with this skill set. You don’t want to be the customer that even the best landscaper uses to learn a new technique.

References: Even though you’ve checked online and asked friends and family members about the landscapers that you are seriously considering, it’s good to ask the landscaper for references. If they can demonstrate a long history of satisfied customers, it’s a good bet that you’re going to be happy with the services they have to offer.

Get It In Writing! No matter how big or small your needs, your landscaper should be a professional that is able to clearly communicate information and understand what you wish to accomplish. Make sure to get a contract that outlines payment terms, including milestone payments, as well as the estimated completion window and any warranties or long-term care agreements. This will protect both you and your landscaper, should a disagreement arise later.

You always know a good professional by the tools he or she uses. If you love our products, direct your landscaper to for a wide selection of planters, window boxes, garden decorations, and more.

When and How to Start Seeds Indoors

Tools for starting seeds inside

Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a jump on spring gardening.

Need to beat cabin fever while snow still clings to the windowsills and frost hangs heavy in the air? There’s no better way to do it than coaxing a pack of seeds into germinating indoors. Starting plants indoors may be one of the best things you can do for your garden. Not only does seed starting allow you to choose from a much wider range of plants, but you will also know that your mature plants are healthy since you raised them from wee little seedlings.

What Materials Do You Need to Start Seeds Indoors?

Veteran gardeners know the secrets of starting seeds indoors, but if you’re at the beginning of your gardening adventure, you probably have a lot of questions. Knowing how to start seeds indoors saves the sometimes considerable costs associated with using transplants for annual flower, herb or vegetable gardens year after year. With your shiny, new seed packets in hand, you should go about collecting the necessary supplies for seed starting.

Many gardeners use inexpensive, prefabricated tabletop greenhouse kits for starting their seeds. These units are available at home improvement stores and through garden catalogs. These miniature greenhouses provide casual gardeners with almost everything they need to start a few plants with very little experience. They generally come with compressed peat pellets with a dimple in the center to place your seed. As you water them, they expand impressively to form net-wrapped wads of growing medium, which are easy to transplant when the time comes.

Gardeners who start many seedlings year after year may find these units limiting, though. For a DIY option, you can make your own biodegradable pots from newspaper, fill them with a peat-based seed starting medium, and put them into large clear plastic sweater boxes. Some home gardeners use an egg carton and put the soil and seeds inside cracked eggshells. You can also simply sow the seeds directly in a window box liner or planter liner, which can easily be moved outside when the plants are ready. No matter what you choose to start your seedlings in, you’ll need to add artificial fluorescent lighting, but a CFL bulb in a lamp may be enough for a few seeds.

Egg carton and egg shells with young plants

Do-it-yourself seed starting in eggshells! Image from Hew and Sew.


How to Plant Seeds Indoors

Every seed needs to be handled a little differently. Your seed packets will explain how deep to plant the seeds and if any special treatment is required prior to planting. Small seeds are generally just sprinkled across the top of pre-moistened seed starting mix, but bigger seeds, like watermelons or pumpkins, may benefit from deeper planting. There are some oddball seeds out there, but for the most part the bigger the seed, the deeper it needs to go. Before you poke them into their individual cells or pots, check your seeds carefully to ensure they’re clean and free of any fuzzy surface molds that might cause them to fail.

Once you’ve given your seeds the all-clear, water them just enough to keep the growing medium from drying out, sit back and watch carefully for the new seedlings to emerge. Some seeds take longer than others to germinate, so be patient with your indoor seed starting. If they go more than about a week past their ideal germination window, though, it may be time to try again with fresh seeds. Sometimes seeds are just bad.

Black plastic window liners

Consider starting your seeds in window box liners. When they’re ready, just carry the liner outside to your flower boxes!


When Should You Start Indoor Seeds?

To get your planting time right, you’ll need to figure out the average last frost date for your region. has an overview of major U.S. cities, and Dave’s Garden lets you look it up by zip code. Determine when the danger of frost has passed and then count backwards to find the date for starting your seeds.

The chart below shows the germination and transplant times for some common garden flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Specific information can be found on your seed packets, too. Plan the timing carefully, because you don’t want to put out seedlings that are too young to survive, nor do you want to move leggy transplants out to the garden.

Starting seeds indoors can be incredibly rewarding, especially when your flowers, herbs or vegetables are destined for a durable, long lasting planter from Hooks & Lattice. As soon as those little plants pop their heads out from the soil, it’ll feel like spring has already sprung! Have you successfully started seeds indoors and transplanted them outside? Tell us about it in the comments!

Common Name Days to Germination Weeks to Transplant
Aster 8 to 10 days 7 to 8 weeks
Coleus 8 to 10 days 9 to 10 weeks
Dianthus 5 to 7 days 12 to 14 weeks
Impatiens 15 to 18 days 10 to 11 weeks
Marigold 5 to 7 days 12 to 14 weeks
Pansy 6 to 10 days 14 to 15 weeks
Snapdragon 7 to 12 days 15 to 16 weeks
Vinca 10 to 15 days 14 to 15 weeks
Zinnia 5 to 7 days 8 to 9 weeks
Basil 5 to 15 days 6 to 8 weeks
Chives 10 to 14 days 6 to 8 weeks
Cilantro 10 to 15 days 6 to 8 weeks
Dill 21 to 25 days 4 to 6 weeks
Lavender 15 to 20 days 6 to 8 weeks
Oregano 10 to 15 days 6 to 8 weeks
Parsley 15 to 30 days 8 weeks
Peppermint 15 to 30 days 6 to 8 weeks
Sage 10 to 21 days 6 to 8 weeks
Thyme 5 to 20 days 6 to 8 weeks
Fruits & Vegetables
Broccoli 5 to 10 days 6 to 8 weeks
Cucumber 7 days 3 to 5 weeks
Lettuce 5 to 10 days 6 to 8 weeks
Okra 7 to 14 days 4 to 6 weeks
Pepper 7 to 14 days 6 to 8 weeks
Pumpkin 7 days 4 to 6 weeks
Tomato 7 to 14 days 6 to 8 weeks
Watermelon 7 days 3 to 5 weeks