The age-old question from beginning gardeners is often how many seeds should I plant per hole or per container. There is no standard answer. Several factors figure into seed planting numbers. Read on to learn more.
How Many Seeds Per Hole?
The size and age of the seeds to be planted figure into the equation. So does the expected germination rate for each type of seed. To learn the expected germination rate for each type of seed, it is normally found in the information on the back of the seed packet, or you may search the online.
Age of the seed is a factor too. We expect seeds to be fresh when packaged, but after that our only indication of their true age is the expiration date on the packaging. Some seeds continue to be viable past the date when they expire.
Perhaps we have seeds left from last year’s plantings. These seeds will possibly still sprout. These are situations where we will increase the number of seeds per hole. Some gardeners always plant at least two to three seeds per hole, just in case.
Number of Seeds Per Hole When Planting
Depending on the rate of germination and how fresh tiny seeds might be, plant two or three per hole. Some herbs and flowering ornamentals grow from tiny seeds. Often, all seeds will sprout, but this is not a problem with these plants. You may leave them all to grow together. If all seedlings that sprout are not top quality, snip them off at the soil line instead of pulling, leaving the best seedling in place.
When planting medium sized seeds that may be old, make the holes slightly bigger if you’re planting two or three. Don’t exceed three seeds per hole. If more than one germinates, snip off extras at the soil line also. This prevents disturbance of the seedling roots on the one you’ll continue growing out when thinning.
Don’t add more than one large seed to a hole. If you’re attempting a specific number of plants or just want a fuller pot, plant the large seeds closer together. You can snip or pull out those that are too close. Remember, seedlings need good airflow around them to avoid damping off.
Other Factors That Affect Seed Planting Numbers
Some seeds need light to germinate. If this is the case with the seeds you’re planting, don’t allow extra seeds in the hole to block others from getting light. You may cover seeds with a light layer of perlite or coarse sand to let the light through.
Growing plants from seed is the best way to get unusual varieties. It is less expensive than buying all your plants. Now that you’ve learned the basics of how many seeds per hole to plant, you’re one step closer toward successfully growing your plants from seed.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.