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Beginner Gardening

How Often to Water Seedlings: A Beginner’s Guide

how often to water seedlings indoors

Watering seedlings is a necessary step in the gardening process, but how often to water seedlings can vary depending on a number of factors. Are you starting your own seedlings indoors or did you buy them from a nursery? If you’re planting them outdoors, how long will they be in direct sunlight? And how do you know when to water seedlings – should they be watered right after planting or can it wait until the soil is dry to the touch? In this blog post, I’ll answer all those questions and more!

This blog post is about how often to water seedlings.

From the Start: Planting Seeds

Tip: Before setting up seed starting trays, check the seed package. It provides instructions as to where to plant the seeds. It will either state to start them indoors or outdoors. Some seedlings don’t do well being transplanted since they don’t like their roots disturbed.

Before you start planting seeds, the first step is really to have the right type of soil. Seeds need to be started with a seed starter mix. Actually seed starting mix isn’t usually soil. It’s a soil-less medium for growing seeds.  The mix is finer and lighter, helping with germination and allowing seeds to take root easier. It also helps with proper drainage to avoid water logging the seeds and eventual seedlings.

After selecting your seed starting mix, moisten it and then put it in the individual cells of the seed starting tray. Once that’s all set, you can start planting the seeds. Check the package for instructions for the depth that each seed needs to be planted. To help guide you, some seed starting trays come with little dibbers to make little holes in the seed starting mix.

[RELATED POST: Indoor Seed Starting: DIY – How to Build a Seed Starting Rack]

Where to Buy Seeds

There are a couple of sources where I get seeds from and I’ve had a good experience. The 3 seed companies that I buy from are:

How Often to Water Seedlings Indoors

If you’re planting your seeds indoors and growing seedlings, seed starter mix is super important. Without the right mix, your plants can fail to thrive, develop moldy soil, and get what’s called damping off. 

Damping off is a plant disease that occurs in excessively damp conditions. Damp conditions can either occur from improper drainage of the soil or from overwatering. The seedling essentially becomes waterlogged. When this happens, the seedling stops growing and then dies off as a result of a fungal infection.

It’s very sad to watch seedlings die off after spending all that time planting seeds, caring for them, and watching them grow.

Seedlings need to be watered often since the soil can dry out quickly, and they store water for very long. They’ll have to be watered daily, however, you’ll need to check the moisture of the soil before doing so. The soil needs to be kept moist, and conditions need to be warm with air circulating. 

Before watering, test the soil with your finger. Put your finger about an inch deep in the soil. If it’s dry, it needs water. If it’s still wet or moist, there’s no need to water. Check again later in the day.

If the seedling is turning yellow, it’s being overwatered. The seedling might be saved. Immediately stop watering the seedling. Check to make sure it has proper drainage. Let the soil drain and dry out. Try repotting the seedling, but be careful not to damage the roots.

How Often to Water Seedlings Outdoors

It’s much easier to take care of seedlings outdoors than indoors, in my opinion. Seedlings that are growing outside don’t need as much care as those growing indoors. The environments are completely different. I try to get my seedlings outdoors as quickly as possible just for that reason. The sooner they can go outside, the better! 

How much water you have to give your seedlings and how often factors in the weather. If it’s raining, no watering is necessary. If it’s not raining, watering is required. Before you water, first test the soil. Insert your finger about an inch into the soil. If it’s dry, the seedling needs water. If the soil is still moist or wet, it doesn’t need water yet. Check again later in the day/

Transplanting Seedlings: Should Seedlings Be Watered Right After Planting

Yes, after transplanting the seedlings in their final spot, they need to be watered. Water your seedlings at least once a day. The soil needs to stay moist so as previously explained, keep checking moisture levels. Gently mist the plants at the soil level. Seedlings are pretty fragile so a hard spray can easily cause damage.

Can I Water Seedlings with a Spray Bottle

Yes, using a spray bottle with a gentle mist is helpful. It’ll be easier to water the seedlings and reduce the risk of over watering and injury to them. Strong streams of water can easily damage seedlings since they’re so fragile in this state.

When is the Best Time to Water Seedlings

I always recommend watering any type of plant in the morning. If the seedlings are outside, it’s particularly important to water them in the morning. During the morning, the sun isn’t as strong. Watering them in the middle of the day puts them at risk of burning. It also gives seedlings enough time to drain any unneeded water. Watering in the evening can increase the risk of root rot, mildew, and other health issues for the plant, as well as increase pest activity. The reason this happens is at night the water tends to rest in the soil around the roots and on the foliage.


Can you overwater seedlings?

Yes, overwatering seedlings, whether they are grown inside or outside, can happen. This can happen if water is not properly draining, a gardener is watering too much, or even if it’s been raining a lot. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if it’s been raining a lot. However you can control watering plants. Monitor the moisture of the soil before watering. Don’t rely on limping limbs or the plant drooping as an indicator that it needs water. Plants also do that when they have too much water.

Do seeds need to constantly be wet?

I wouldn’t say wet. The soil should always be moist and be cautious of it drying out.

The Wrap Up

•Planting seeds requires a mixture that’s usually soil-less, called seed starter mix, which is finer and lighter than soil.

• Before planting the seeds, check the package for instructions on depth and use a dibber to make little holes in the seed starting mix.

• Seed companies that I recommend can be purchased from Baker’s Creek, Johnny’s Seeds or Botanical Interests.

• Seedlings grown indoors need to be watered daily but should not become waterlogged as this can cause damping off – a fungal infection that leads to death of the plant.

• When watering outdoors, factor in weather conditions. If it has been raining no additional water is required, whereas dry conditions require more frequent watering. Use caution to avoid overwatering or watering during midday hours to avoid burning the plant.

• Transplanted seedlings should always be watered right after planting. Watering is best done in early morning hours when the sun isn’t too strong yet.  It gives enough time for water to drain before nightfall. Watering in the evening increases the chances of root rot, mildew, other fungal diseases, and pest issues.

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