Sowing seed in trays

Sowing seed in trays

  • Useful for starting plants with small seeds
  • Good for sowing a range of seeds all at once
  • Space saving and productive
  • Keep moisture constant
  • Transplant seedlings when still small


Sowing seeds in trays is an easy way of getting a large number of seedlings underway all at once. Plants with very small seeds, like violas, cornflowers, lettuces and onions are sown into trays filled with seed raising mix. Seeds are then reared until they grow into seedlings with a couple of pairs of leaves or are about a finger length tall. At this stage seedlings are usually transplanted into pots and grown on until they are large enough to go out in the garden. In the case of onions and leeks - that produce slender seedlings – they are not transplanted into pots but instead are planted straight into garden soil.

How to sow seed in a tray

Equipment: Shallow tray with drainage holes, seed raising compost, trowel, seeds, pencil or iceblock stick, labels.

TIP: Soaking seeds for an hour or so to before sowing can help stimulate germination.

1. Place tray on a level surface, fill with dry seed-raising mix. Give tray a gentle tap on the side to settle compost.

2. Pour seeds into palm of one hand and use thumb and forefinger of the other to distribute.

3. Using a pencil or iceblock stick push seeds just below compost surface – or to any recommended depth on seed packet.

4. Add labels to indicate what seeds are where in your tray.

5. Using rose attachment on watering can, water seeds. This gets them going and ensures good contact between seeds and compost.

6. Place in a greenhouse or cold frame.

7. Seedlings are ready for transplanting when they have a couple of pairs of leaves.