Starting seeds

How to Start Seeds Indoors: The Basics

Give your runner beans a running start this year by starting your seeds! Getting on top of the seeding schedule can help you have the best garden yet. Starting your seeds indoors gives them a fighting chance to reward you with the brightest blooms, juiciest fruit, and tastiest veggies.

Here are the basics for getting your seeds started indoors this year:

seed packets garden gloves and pots summerwinds arizona

Start Small

What are you most excited to plant this year? Dreaming big and planning ahead is key for a successful garden. Before you even buy your seeds, you should do some research and take into account your:

  • Available Space
  • Local Climate
  • Personal Preferences
  • Growing Season
  • Plant Needs

Itty-bitty seeds can sometimes turn into hulking mammoth plants, so make sure you do a bit of research before picking up your supplies.

seed starting supplies packets trays trowels summerwinds arizona

Setting Up for Seed Starting

Once you’ve decided which plant babies you’d like to raise into adulthood, consider where you will source your seeds. All seeds are not created equal, so make sure you seek out freshness and quality.

You’ll also need some seedling trays, or plug trays, although you could also get frugal and use household items like aluminum cans cut in half (carefully!), empty K-cups, or toilet paper rolls. You can also reuse old containers or try to find a biodegradable version. There just needs to be enough space for some soil and the seed, and it must have drainage holes.

Another must-have is seed starting mix. This growing medium doesn’t actually have soil in it, but it’s rich in nutrients and will give your plants everything they need for a jump-start in life.

If you’re looking for seed supplies in Arizona, we’d be happy to help assist you!

person planting seeds indoor in paper tray summerwinds arizona


Now it’s time to take that leafy leap and get to planting. Most seeds will have instructions on when to plant them and how long they should stay indoors.

The instructions for each type of seed will also share planting depth information, but a good rule of thumb is to plant the seed two-to-three times as deep as the seed is wide. One potential issue is planting the seed too deep. If it’s buried too deep, the new little bud will expend all of its energy trying to reach up through the surface of the potting mix, and it just won’t make it.

You can usually plant a few extra seeds (again, check the information for each plant) in each plant tray. Sometimes, just like in the dating world, you get a dud. It’s best to have a few other back-up options to ensure one of them will thrive. Once things start sprouting, you can always cut back any extras so that you don’t crowd the pot.


Once everything is planted, you should keep your “babies” in a warm place to mimic the warmth of the sun. Whether you place them on a heating pad, stick them near a radiator, or place them on top of your fridge, they will do well with a bit of heat. Keep the soil moist, and make sure you check in every day for signs of life and to give them a spritz. Once you see the first greens poking through, place it near a brighter light source. A window or the introduction of some lights will help with fuller growth.

At this stage, your seedlings no longer need the heat source they did in the first days of growth. Cooler temperatures in the 60s may be best for most of your seed babies.

transplanting seedlings from tray summerwinds arizona


Once you see two sets of leaves (known as the cotyledon stage), it’s time to play favorites. As attached as you may have gotten to your tiny plants, your crop will be better off if you choose the most vigorous seedlings in each little pot and snip away the other!

Transplanting your thriving seedlings into bigger pots or into your garden will depend on many factors. Some plants, like root vegetables, are homebodies and would much rather be planted directly into the soil in which they will live out their lives. Tomatoes and peppers are sensitive souls and should have several sets of leaves before moving into their new homes in your garden.

If you’re still seeking guidance for your seedlings, check our gardening calendars for tips on timing out your planting this year.

Starting your own seeds from scratch puts you in control of the harvest you reap this year. You can experiment with seeds instead of relying on what nurseries are carrying at any given time. Ready to grow veggies from scratch or start flower seeds indoors? You’ll find the best flower seeds in Arizona and a wide range of vegetable seeds at your nearest SummerWinds Nursery location!

About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.

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