Safely Watering Seeds: How To Keep Seeds From Washing Away

Watering Can Watering A Seedling In Soil
water seeds
(Image credit: amenic181)

Many gardeners decide to save money and start their plants from seeds, only to be disappointed by the experience. What happened? If the seeds are not watered properly, they can wash away, be driven too deep, and overwatered or underwatered, all of which affect seed germination and growth.

Learn how to water seeds properly, thereby maximizing the germination rate.

Safely Watering Seeds

Before planting seeds indoors in a seed tray, water the soil thoroughly so it’s moist, but not wet. Then plant the seeds according to the instructions that came with the seeds. You won’t have to water after they are planted, preventing seed movement.

Create a mini greenhouse by covering the seed tray with a plastic tray or plastic wrap. This will keep the moisture and warmth inside, and you shouldn’t have to water again till after the seeds have germinated.

After the seeds have germinated and you’ve removed the cover, check the soil at least once a day for moisture level. Alternatively, if you don’t use a cover, plan to water the seeds once a day to keep the medium moist but not wet.

Whether watering newly planted seeds inside in a tray or outside in the ground or container, it’s important not to displace the seeds or force them further into the soil.

How to Keep Seeds from Washing Away

Watering a seed tray can be from above the soil line or below the soil line, which many experts prefer.

  • When watering from above, it’s important to use a gentle spray such as from a mister or spray bottle.
  • When watering from below, add water to a tray under your seed tray. Allow the water to fill about a ¼ inch (6.35 ml.) above the bottom of the seed tray. Keep an eye on the seed container to see when the water reaches the top of the soil. Immediately pour off any remaining water in the tray. A capillary system, which can be purchased, allows water to be drawn up into the soil as needed.

Watering newly planted seeds outside also requires care when watering so the soil doesn’t wash away. Use a hose fitted with a fine spray nozzle or use a watering can equipped with a fine mist spray.

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.