How to Start Seeds Indoors (Part 5 of 6): Watering Indoor Seedlings

By: Maureen Gilmer

Mist - Maureen Gilmer

Mist: Adjustable nozzles offer a mist setting for seedlings, then as they grow older the convenient soaker setting quickly fills pots.

Every gardener has done it at least once. Watering newly sown pots too aggressively makes the covering float off seeds. Do it hard enough and the seed becomes dislodged too. That’s why watering indoor seedlings properly is essential in the first weeks after sowing.

How you water depends on the number of seeds you’ve sown and the space available in the kitchen to water them. It’s easy to move the containers into the shower stall and turn it on for a gentle, natural rain. If you can take them outside to water, buy a nozzle for your hose that has a mist setting. This super fine spray is the best for indoor seeds because it applies moisture in such a natural way that soil, seed and sprout are bathed without pressure. With a misting nozzle you can water your seeds often without concern for over-saturation. However, there is a drawback Misting nozzles don’t put out much water, so they tend to moisten the top layer where the seed is while leaving soil dry deeper down.

Fine Spray - Maureen Gilmer

Fine Spray: This short handled water wand features a narrow fine spray nozzle which requires care with very young seedlings.

There is a good way to keep the entire soil mass evenly moist after seedlings sprout by watering from the bottom up too. This is a method by which moisture wicks up through the drain holes of a pot set in a pan of water. Wicking brings moisture all the way to the top of the soil to wet the entire soil mass without dry pockets. While you water the seed on top every day with a mister, you’ll want to bottom-up water only after the seeds sprout to encourage them to root deeply. This bottom up method may be repeated every week or two depending on how hot and dry the local climate.

Finally, keep your eye on the weather as the spring weeks go by. Just one oversight can lead to permanent wilt or a dead seedling. When conditions are humid, water less. When it’s hot or dry, water more often. Be very careful in windy weather as it tends to rapidly draw moisture out of both the foliage and the soil. Check your crop twice a day to be sure, and let Mother Nature take care of the rest.

This article is part of a six-part series entitled How to Start Seed Indoors by expert garden writer and Black Gold contributor Maureen Gilmer.READ MORE ARTICLES FROM THIS SERIES…
Intro: Germinating Vegetable Seeds Indoors: Get A Head Start This March

  1. How to Start Seed Indoors 1 of 6: Read The Seed Packet Before Starting Seed Indoors
  2. How to Start Seed Indoors 2 of 6: Use Clean Bedding to Prevent Damping Off
  3. How to Start Seed Indoors 3 of 6: The Right Container Helps Germinate Seed
  4. How to Start Seed Indoors 4 of 6: Sowing Your Seed Properly
  5. How to Start Seed Indoors 5 of 6: Proper Watering of Indoor Seedlings
  6. How to Start Seed Indoors 6 of 6: Transplant Seedlings Into Pots

About Maureen Gilmer


Maureen Gilmer has been a noted figure in horticultural journalism for over 30 years. She is author of 18 gardening books and writer of Yardsmart, a national column syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service. She is also garden columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in the international resort town of Palm Springs. Maureen is a public speaker and former host of Weekend Gardening on the DIY Channel. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.

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