What medium is everybody starting their seedling in?

woohoomanFebruary 2, 2013

In the past, I've used either one of those bagged seed starting mixes(peat and perlite) or made my own(peat and perlite) but this year I'm trying the 5-1-1. No success yet except for some bells.

I've done the whole baggy thing, got sprouts, transferred to moist 5-1-1 with about 1/8' inch of topping, covered with plastic wrap, and set on heating mats between 80-85 degrees. Still nothing but the bells have emerged. It's been 3 weeks since baggies and over 10 days since transfer. Some are annuums, some chinense.

Not sure if it's the soil or ME, so what's everybody using for their seed starting medium?



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Hyponex potting soil sold in the 2 cuft bags mixed with peat. I will be using Hyponex

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:05PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Kevin, I'm using a very gritty mix as usual.
Some screened fir bark, screened turface, and screened perlite.
Just takes some patience, and a spritz now and again...

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:34PM
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I used to use peat and perlite like you but I have found that it dries out too quickly.
Now I use coconut coir, perlite, crushed up expanded clay pebbles and mycorrhizal inoculant.
I works very well for me for seedlings, if I'm going straight hydro then I just use rockwool.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:56PM
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naturemitch(3/4 WI)

I use a few different mixes. I like Metro Mix MM900 and we can easily get it here. Have used Fafards 3B, but can't obtain that too easily were we moved to. Sungro SB100 is another local brand we have used.

Have not tried the 5-1-1 mix, I think it would be too gritty for how we germinate our seeds. Just tried Sunshine LG3....don't think I am a big fan. We have to crumble up the chunks of the material and think it will be retaining too much moisture for us in our method.

Are you covering sprouted seedlings with plastic wrap and putting them on the heating mat? Why? Once we get our seedlings up, we pull them off the mats and take the plasic wrap off.

Oh, we don't do the baggie method. Tried once and did not like transplanting the sprouts. For us transplanting larger seedlings has worked much better.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 7:47PM
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I use two types of store bought mix. One is MG Orchid potting mix and the other is MG seed starting potting mix. I am having great success so far. Out of about 100 seeds planted I am at about 70% germnation in 14 days or less. This is with Hots but mostly Super-hots.

Heat mat with cling rap. I remove the cling rap a couple times through out the day for 10 minutes or so to "air out" Very little water, when I do water it is with warm tap water only. I have about 30 under lights so far and most have atleats two sets of leaves.

The orchid mix is pretty "chucky" but when I see sprouts I take a toothpick and move some of the larger peices away from the sprout.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 8:23PM
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I use MG Orchid Mix. It is similar to a 5-1-1 mix but has more peat in it than a regular 511. It works good, has built in nutrients and one $4 bag goes a long ways. For me, it is quick, easy, readily available even before the garden centers open up here and it works.

This post was edited by esox07 on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 21:26

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 9:25PM
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I use MG Potting Mix. It has worked well for me. I get it wet, then squeeze out the excess. I put the dome lid on. I don't think I've ever watered, until after germination when I take the dome off. I will be potting some this year and will add some bark and floor dry from Napa Auto Parts.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:05AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

First the baggie, then 4 packs with ProMix (a "regular" potting soil), then maybe into small pots (still promix) depending on rate of growth and outdoor weather. Then into the ground!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:45AM
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This is my first year growing indoors and my first year using seed starting Jiffy mix. i used to be one of those just "throw the seeds in the ground let them do their thing" kind of guys, but indoors is a little different. Having said that, this is my first year using a heating mat as well and i'm getting great germination rates. not sure if it's the heating mat or the seed starting mix or a combination of the two. either way, this should be one hell of a growing season.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:51AM
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The generic seed starter mix. I tried the baggie method last month and it failed miserably. Not one plant germinated. I'm sticking with the way I have been starting seeds for 5 years now.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:40PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Using baggie method I've started 74 seeds and am getting 100% germination from most varieties. (A few haven't finished.) The Trinidad Congo popped 8/8 overnight.

The first few (Lemon Drop and Twilight) I moved into 5-1-1 style, one pretty straight in stand-alone tiny pots, the other more 5-4-1 in a covered starting tray. Two of the two early Lemon Drops are dead. The Twilight in the tiny pot did not do well - apparently I suck at watering tiny pots - but is now in the flat and perked right up. The Twilights and Lemon Drops in the 5-4-1 in the flat are not doing as well as the later seeds (see below).

After that, I started using a blend largely of reclaimed MGMC with Osmocote added. Later seeds love it. Early BJs are all up now, plus e.g. 8 of 9 Orange Thai. Still early days, but I'm happy with what I'm seeing.

Btw, I am being very particular with the water. New sets into a barely damp soil get 1.5 syringes worth, with maybe another half if I feel like it. NO other watering unless they fall over. No damping off for my peppers.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:23PM
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spacetogrow(4 MN)

I tried MG Seed Starter (not Potting Mix) for the 1st time last year, and got unexpectedly poor germination. Then I read online that others were having the same problem. It settles to about half its original volume and apparently becomes too compact for the tender sprouts to push through. As soon as I switched to another brand, the germination rate shot up.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 3:44PM
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rodnebridges: My guess is the heat mats are increasing your germination rates and growth rates more than anything else.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:02PM
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I then transplant them into dirt. Actual dirt.

I know, I'm crazy.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:25PM
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I'm using Miracle Grow Seed Starting Mix mostly this year (all of these in photo are in MG).. Last year I used the Jiffy Peat Pods and those were okay too. I don't grow a lot so for the small amount I do, I don't notice a difference either way..
To prepare them, I cut small holes in the cups and added MG. Moisten thoroughly with warm water & put 2 or 3 seeds in each. I kept them away from any drafts, and I had these sprouts in about a week. I just culled a few so now I have one per cup.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:47PM
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Posted by Edymnion z7 (My Page) on Sun, Feb 3, 13 at 17:25

I then transplant them into dirt. Actual dirt.

I know, I'm crazy."

Lol do you mean like topsoil in containers? Or in ground? lol :)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:17PM
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Potting soil really. Everything gets started in coir, then transplanted to MG potting soil as soon as they sprout. Once they're big enough to outgrow those small starter pots they go in the ground or into their permanent (for the season) container.

I'm just not a fan of gritty mixes and all that.

I also try to stay away from peat (which there's a lot of in the MG stuff, I know). Straight peat is just way too hydrophobic when dry.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:15PM
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I absolutely love Promix BX, it's really light and fluffy. Last year I used Fafard and I like it too, but the Promix is much lighter.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:52AM
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I start my seeds in peat pellets after germination then I leave the pellets in a dome until the seedlings have sprouted a couple inches. Once they are stable and healthy I plant the peat pellets in their final pots (usually) I use a mixture of Rich soil, peat, vermiculite and perlite. I bought some inexpensive potting soil, so it's not the greatest.. I usually have to sift through it by hand because often times there are large soil and manure clods and sometimes even wood chunks and rocks.

Ideally this spring I am going to switch over so sunshine mix #4 for my entire garden. No more crappy store bought mixes.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:29PM
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For my area what is the best medium?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:57AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

I use many different seedling soil. The best result I got from 3 part supermarket potting soil (peat moss and organic compost and nutrients) and 1 part coco coir. It holds moisture and avoid fertilizing the seedling. I use baggy for germination.

New container gardener,


    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:40AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

"For my area what is the best medium?"

I suspect that you - like most of us - are doing it in the kitchen area. So most of the above applies.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Hi MsPeppaJo I am in MD and you are north/north east of me and I find most success using MG orchid mix 1/2 and MG organic choice 1/2 and some perlite. Starting seeds and in bigger pots works great.

Here is a pic of my two Bhut sprouts took pics yeterday.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Are those the same seeds you sent me? If so, how long till germination? How did you sprout? Baggy or soil? I had a few pop in the baggy in about a week, but since then, they haven't even broke the surface and it's been 3 weeks since transfer.

I must be doing something wrong. :(


    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Hi Kevin, I have used both methods in soil mix or baggies both germinate for me the same. Yes these seeds are the same I sent you.

For the baggie method once they sprout I prep the soil and give it a good amount of water then plant the sprouts and put them in a make shift greenhouse put it on top of the DVR to keep the moisture and humidity up.

By make shift its a disposable brownie pan with plastic lid, cheap and effective.

It took 9 days for Ghost and white Hab to germinate. On day 10 and 11 two others sprouted still waiting on some other ghost and galapagos.


This post was edited by habjolokia on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 8:14

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:24PM
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just soak my seeds for however long i feel like depends how impatient i am at the time then sow into scotts professional seed raising mix seems to be working a charm holds the moisture nice to rarely need to water atm seem to be at about 70 % germ rate and thats after my recent thread

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:12AM
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MG seed starting mix. Two cup method. Under lights overnight and by a window during the day.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Greenman28, What is your success rate with that gritty mix. I'd like to do it because I have problem with gnats in the house. Do you put a humidity dome. Do you have problems when transplanting?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:07PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello, Toucan!
4 out of 6 superhots have sprouted by day 11.
The first seed sprouted on day 7, no bottom heat, which is quite fast in my experience.
The more vigorous species like Thai chile and Hungarian Wax hit 100 percent germination,
ranging from 4 to 7 days for sprouts to appear. With bottom heat, I think the rates for
the superhots would be much higher, as well.

I don't use a humidity dome, just a piece of plastic cling-wrap at first. As the seeds sprout,
I snip pieces of plastic for the cells that haven't sprouted.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Good call on that plastic wrap vs the dome. I guess the dome would be nice the first several days until the seeds start sprouting but being able to uncover individual cells as needed is a big advantage. I use a dome but I also use the 3.5" starter cells which are all individualized and I can pull each one out as necessary. Then I just place them in a separate bottom tray without a lid. I don't do this as much for that reason as simply that I can skip one transplanting step this way. In fact, I am hoping I can go straight to my summer pots from the 3.5" but that will be a little iffy if I get the growth rates I hope for. In that case, I would have to move up to 6" nursery pots for a month or so.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:00PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Bruce!
Yeah, it's cheap and easy, and this way I can get my lights really close to the tray.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:37PM
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