How to Start Seeds Indoors (Part 5 of 6): Watering Indoor Seedlings
By: Maureen Gilmer
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.
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.