Gardening Basics Growing Plants from Seeds or Seedlings

As a gardener, you can buy seeds and start all your plants from scratch, or you can buy seedlings that have already germinated. There are things to be said for either choice.

Gardening Basics Growing Plants from Seeds or Seedlings

Whether you're growing flowers or vegetables in your garden, you have a choice of growing your plants from seeds, or purchasing seedlings and transplanting the young plants into your garden.

Advantages of Growing Plants from Seeds

1. Cost

Depending on what you're growing, you can generally get a whole packet of dozens or hundreds of seeds for less than a dollar to a few dollars. You'll probably pay roughly the same amount per seedling as for a whole packet of seeds.

2. Variety

When you shop for seedlings, there are generally far fewer choices available. If you grow from seeds, you can get seeds for practically anything that can grow in your area, buying them online if need be.

3. Knowing what you're getting

Let's say you have a preference for growing only plants that are organic. Or plants that have not been genetically modified. If you purchase a seedling, you have to take the seller's word for it that it was grown up to this point in the manner you prefer. Some seedlings have even resulted in importing plant diseases from other parts of the country.

With a seed, you're overseeing the process from start to finish, so you know how it's being grown.

4. Some plants don't transplant well

Though usually it's growing from seeds that's more hit or miss, there are some plants that are less reliable when grown from seedlings. Root crops and vegetables with tap roots, for example, can be tricky to transplant.

5. Sense of accomplishment

Many gardeners derive more of a feeling of satisfaction knowing that they nurtured a plant from start to finish, like the difference between creating a meal from scratch, and buying something already cooked from the market and then heating it up at home.

Advantages of Growing Plants from Seedlings

1. Time

When you start with a seedling, you're taking a head start. There will be considerably less time from transplant to harvest than there would be from planting a seed to harvest.

This isn't just a point about not having to wait as long. There may be plants for which your climate will not provide a long enough growing season to get a plant all the way from seed to harvest, but there would be enough time to get a plant from transplant to harvest.

2. Work

When you start with a seed, you'll generally have to do a little to a lot more work than when you transplant a seedling. Seeds need attention and tender loving care to germinate and survive their vulnerable early development.

Also, with seeds you normally will plant a lot more than you need, so that you can then save only the most promising plants when they sprout. So that means you then have the added labor of thinning the plants by pulling up the lesser ones so they won't crowd your choices.

3. Success rate

Related to the above points, for most plants, success is a lot less predictable when growing from seeds compared to growing from seedlings. You plant a lot of seeds because you have to in order to get any significant number of them to germinate. Then if there's a problem with the conditions, or with your gardening skills, maybe none of them will germinate.

By starting with seedlings, you're skipping over perhaps the most difficult stretch, like adopting an adult dog that's already housebroken rather than a puppy that you have to train from scratch.

There are plenty of reasons pro and con for choosing to grow from seeds or seedlings. It's all relative to what you're growing, your skills as a gardener, your growing conditions, your preferences, and more. So there is no definite answer that one is always better than the other.

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