3 Days From Seed to Sprouting Plants




About: Army Vet. I love learning & being creative.

If you've ever planted seeds, only to discover that few (or none) of them sprouted - then this Instructable is for you! I wasted a lot of seeds this year - and was a bit disappointed that it wasn't as easy as sprinkling some seeds and watching them flourish. For some plants that might work - but others need a little help and care. In this Instructable you will learn how to quickly turn those seeds into little sprouting plants in a matter of a few days! In addition to knowing which seeds have sprouted properly, you will also save many days off of the germination process. In the main photo you can see two sprouting zinnias - they went from seed to sprouted in 3 days.

Step 1: A Few Items Needed for Fast Seed Sprouting


  • Packets of Seeds
  • Small Planters (any kind is fine)
  • Seed Starter Mix
  • Clear Plastic Cups to put over planters
  • Small Scissors
  • Water

Step 2: Clipping & Soaking

The whole process here is very simple. Take out your seed packets and your clear cups. If you are going to germinate several seed packets, you should label the cups and packets so you know what you're growing and where. I put a number 1. on my first packet and its corresponding cup.

Next, open up the seed packet and pull out some seeds. You'll want to carefully cut a small piece off of the end of the seed. Place the seeds in the cup as you go along and until you are satisfied with how many seeds you have. Once you've done that for all your seed packets, then take the cups with the seeds already in them, and fill it up with water about half-way.

You should check on these every day to see how things are progressing. If you see seeds actively sprouting, you can then move onto the next step with them. If not, wait it out a little longer and you'll see it happen. If you are using super tiny seeds and they are too small to clip, there are other methods which involve spraying them with water and covering them - but I'm not too familiar as I haven't tried it yet. If you do this with sunflower seeds, just be careful what you're cutting off - because if you cut too deep you can damage the inside and it will not sprout. After about a day and a half, I did get one sunflower seed sprouted out. I also had hollyhock and zinnias which were sprouting all over the place after only 24 hours.

Step 3: Planting the Germinated Seeds

Once you start to see that seeds are sprouting and have germinated, it is then time to plant them. I bought these super tiny terra cotta planters at Walmart (for about 25-50 cents each) and they are adorable and will work well for the sprouted plants. But, you can also use those long trays used for seed starting (the ones that have the plastic cover are ideal).

You should have a seed starter mix and fill up the little planters with it. Then, wet the seed starter mix well. After that, follow the directions on the seed packet to know how deep to plant the sprouted seeds. And when ready, plant them and cover with a little seed starter mix with the tail end down into the soil. If the seed is still attached, that should be at the top. If you are using a really small planter, only put a few in one planter. From what I've read and my research and failed attempts with seed planting directly into the soil, it seems to be quite important to use a seed starter mix vs. regular soil.

Once you're done with planting them in seed starter mix, then take the clear plastic cup and cover them individually (this only works if the planters are small or the cup is big enough). If your planter is too big, you could use several other things to achieve the same result. For example, you could cut the top part off of a two-liter bottle and use that as a cover. Or, you could use plastic wrap to cover the seedlings. Once they have really emerged out of the soil, you can uncover them.

In the meantime, you can check back on the other seeds that are soaking to see if they have germinated. At least this way you can avoid using the bad seeds and only plant the sprouted ones.

Step 4: Growth & Transplanting

Last thing to note is that it's important to take good care of the plant as it is growing. These mini terra cotta planters have little trays below them and a hole in the main planter. So once watered, the excess water will be collected into the tray. As the soil dries out, it will "self-water" with the excess in the tray. But, it's also important to keep the top moist by spraying it with water.

Once the plants are growing and have several real leaves, it is usually safe to transplant them. It is recommended to go through a seedling hardening off phase before transplanting them. Basically, you are supposed to take the small plants outside in a shady area for a few hours, several days in a row before you actually transplant them. This is important for them to get used to the outside environment and toughen up a bit before the actual planting in real soil.

I wish you success with your seed planting! If you end up using this method, I hope you can make a comment or post a picture! If you have any questions, please ask!

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12 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

This is an interesting and clever instructable, i'm new into seeding, and it's really depressing when you start with 30 seeds and only 5 sprout, now with this i can make my garden even bigger!!.

Thanks !!!

1 reply

5 years ago

Oh this looks so awesome! I've always wanted to grow my own seedlings, but have never really had much luck with it. 3 quick questions:
1) Does it matter what kind of water is used? Like tap vs bottled?
2) Does the room's temperature matter?
3) What is an ideal level of sunlight?

3 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Hi there! Great questions...I just used plain tap water. I'm not sure if it matters at all. It worked just fine for me. But interesting you asked that. I bet it would work a lot better with rain water! I had experiences in the past with watering plants and they weren't doing very well...but as soon as it rained - they totally recovered and were revived...so if that is possible..I bet it would work better.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Wow! Thanks for the thoughtful response :). I'm excited to try growing some plants from seedlings!


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

About temperature - I personally have mine in my screened in porch - not in direct sunlight. I got some information here: http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/how-to-start-seeds/5062.html that may help with that question:

If the soil is too cold, seeds may take much longer to germinate, or
they may not germinate at all. To provide additional warmth, you can
use aheat mat or place the containers on top of a warm refrigerator, television, or
keep them in a warm room until the seeds germinate. Just be sure to get
your seedlings to a sunny window or under lights within 24 hours of
seeing little sprouts emerging through the soil surface.

After germination, most seedlings grow best if the air temperature is
below 70 degrees F. If temperatures are too warm (over 75), the
seedlings will grow too fast and get weak and leggy. Most seedlings grow
fine in air temperatures as low as 50 degrees, as long as soil
temperature is maintained at about 65 to 70.- I hope that helps!


5 years ago

Great 'ible Holly. I have been very busy with the Mrs. planti starters and working a new vegetable garden plot. This will help a lot with the starting. Thanks again!

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Thanks GrampaDave :) Hope the garden works out well :) We are also having a joint garden between my neighbors and myself...it's growing a little more each day!


5 years ago on Introduction

Super smart! I have had terrible luck with seeds in the past! I'm going to try it your way next time...Thanks Holly! :)

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Thanks Natalie... I guess people have been doing things like this for a while...either soaking or clipping seeds..but it's a great little technique to know and use. I have zero luck with seeds otherwise. :) Have you done much gardening? It's my newest hobby ...keeps me busy in the summer anyway!