29) Growing plants from tiny seeds

In this tip:

  • A)# Needed
  • B)# Sowing
  • C)# Germinating
  • D)# Plants visible
  • E)# Planting out
  • F)# Thinning out
  • G)# Remarks
  • H)# New tests

Some plants have tiny seeds. It is rather difficult to grow these plants indoors in a box, a flower pot or a tray. Particularly when only 1 plant should grow in the pot or box.

You can strew a group of seeds in a tray and thin out to 1 plant after germination. Or you can use tweezers, a moist point of a cocktail stick or a folded paper sheet to drop 1 or 2 seeds on the sowing soil.

I invented another rather simple procedure. It uses a small mat and tea spoons.


A)# Needed

A rubber mat that is used in a kitchen sink. You can buy a round or a rectangular mat. From this mat a small rectangular mat is cut.

  • A rubber “mat”.  This is a rectangular piece of mat.  Size about 2.5 x 4 inch. It is cut from a rubber kitchen sink mat. The mat fits in a small empty margarine box (250 grams).   You can cut a mat with 2 handles on it. Further in this post there are photos of it.
  • White plastic tea spoon.
  • Metal tea spoon.
  • Big empty margarine box (450 or 500 grams).  Cut away the upper edge of the box.

  • Two small empty margarine boxes (250 grams).
  • Potting soil or sowing soil.
  • Dry garden sand or masonry sand or sand-box sand.
  • Tea-strainer

When needed, sieve dry sand through a tea-strainer into an empty margarine box.

And sieve the potting soil or sowing soil through the holes in the bottom of a plastic flower pot. Do this when the soil contains big fibers. See G)# Remarks  , further in this tip.


On this photo a mat with 2 handles.


B)# Sowing

Below a description of sowing.  Often there are 2 photos on top of each other, one photo of each type of mat.

Put some potting soil or sowing soil in a small margarine box. Water the soil when needed. Use tweezers to lay the mat on the soil in the margarine box.

Or lay a mat with handles on the soil. Bend the handles upwards before laying on. After laying on, press on the mat near the handles to have the mat laying flat on the soil.


Snapdragon has tiny seeds.

Strew some seeds in the big margarine box (the box with removed upper edge).

Lay the white tea spoon on a table. Hold the big box with seeds slanting above the spoon.

Carefully tap against the bottom of the big margarine box to move the seeds to the edge of the box.

Keep tapping until a number of seeds have fallen into the tea spoon. For Snapdragon 2 seeds are needed.


Have (by accident)  too many seeds fallen into the spoon, act as follows:

  • Hold the spoon in the big margarine box. Carefully tap against the spoon to have the surplus of seeds falling into the big margarine box.
  • Or drop all seeds back into the big margarine box and start all over again.

Hold the spoon with 2 seeds above one hole of the mat. Hold the spoon sloping and carefully tap against the spoon. Drop the 2 seeds into the hole of the mat.

Then take a half tea spoon of sieved sand.

Strew dry sand into the hole of the mat in which 2 seeds have been dropped before.

Drop 2 seeds in each hole of the mat and strew dry sand in.

Use tweezers to pick up the mat from the potting soil (or sowing soil). Take the mat out of the small margarine box. Or carefully take out the mat with the 2 handles. Now there are 15 “sand hills” with seeds in it.

On these photos the mats with sand residues. Shake off the sand and drop it in the margarine box.


Put 2 small rubber bands around the small margarine box with seeds. Get a big empty margarine box (450 or 500 grams, not lowered).


C)# Germinating

Put the big empty margarine box upside down on (over)  the small margarine box with seeds. This forms a small greenhouse. Put the whole in a room at about 20 C (68 F).



  • Instead of making a small greenhouse, you can put a well fitting (or original) lid on the 250 grams box. That works well too. The lid does not close airtight; there are cracks and chinks between lid and box.


D)# Plants visible

A few days after sowing, remove the big margarine box to check if plants are visible already.  No plants visible, then put the big margarine box on (over) the small one again.

Remove the big upper box as soon as first small plants are visible. At Snapdragon this is after about 7 days at 20 C (68 F).  Also remove the elastic bands from the small box. The put the small box with little plants before a window at 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F).

Small Snapdragon plants, just come up in sand hills.

Snapdragon plants, 7 days later.  There are 15 sand hills. At 14 sand hills plants have come up. In each sand hill 1 or 2 plants have come up.


E)# Planting out


  • Plastic tray filled with potting soil.
  • Small margarine box containing sand hills with small Snapdragon plants.
  • Metal or plastic tea spoon.

Use a tea spoon to make again and again a small pit into the potting soil in a compartment. In each compartment, shove the potting soil aside.

Carefully scoop a sand hill with 1 or 2 plants and some potting soil out of the small box.

Detail photos of sand hills with 1 or 2 plants and potting soil.

Again and again lay sand hills with plant(s) and potting soil into the small pits in the tray.  Use fingers or another tea spoon to put the plant(s) upright.  Then shove some potting soil against the plant(s).

Repeat these actions until all compartments of the tray contain plants or until all sand hills with plant(s) have been planted.


On this photo 10 sand hills with potting soil have been planted into the tray. At most sand hills, 2 plants have come up.  In the margarine box there are 5 sand hills left.

In each compartment of the tray strew a thin layer of potting soil or sowing soil around the small plants. Then spray water on the soil.

On the top photo you see a tray with groups of plants.  Each group comes from one sand hill.  Each group has 1 or 2 plants.

On the lower photo there is a detail of one group. This group has 2 plants.

Put the tray with plants before a window at 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F)


F)# Thinning

Plants before thinning. After one week at 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F), plants are large enough to thin out.

Plants after thinning.

Thinning. At each group of 2 plants, carefully pull out the smallest plant. Use fingers or tweezers to do this. Or use scissors to cut the smallest plant just above the potting soil.

In a compartiment of the tray with 1 plant in it,  of course there is no need for thinng.

After thinning, spray water on the soil around the plants.

Then put the tray with plants before a window at 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F).  Let them grow to big plants.


G)# Remarks

  • Seeds may “stick” to the plastic spoon or the big margarine box due to static electricity. If so, clean the spoon and the empty box in diluted dish water. Do not rinse after washing but let dry in air. This forms a “thin layer of soap” on the spoon and on the box.  This overcomes sticking by static electricity.
  • When you water the plants in the small box, spray water against the inside wall of the box. The water will seep down into the potting soil. In this way the sand hills keep their shapes.
  • The procedure with mat holes is also usable when sowing big seeds, for example tomatoes or peppers. Then you have to put more dry sand in the holes to cover the big seeds well. Or remove the mat after sowing and cover the seeds with a layer of potting soil.
  • You can fill the small box with sowing soil or potting soil. After coming up of the plants, you have to scoop the sand hills with soil. Crumbly sowing soil can easily be scooped. So taking out the sand hills is easy then.  Potting soil contains more long fibres, so it is harder scoopable. But potting soil works well, as shown on my photos. You better sieve the potting soil before filling the small box. Sieve through the holes of a plastic flower pot as shown on the photo below.  This sieving tip can also be read at tip 2) .


H)# New tests

I have done experiments with sowing Snapdragon in deep sowing holes in potting soil. After sowing the seeds have not been covered. Without coverage, you can check the germination easily (use a magnifying glass).

The seeds have germinated in the air, the roots grew into the soil and the stems and leaves grew upward.

Below the photos and descriptions.

  • Fill a box with a mixture of sieved potting soil and agricultural lime (aprox 20 to 1).
  • Spray cold tap water on the soil.
  • Lay a mat on the soil.
  • Use the point of a pencil to make “deep” sowing holes.
  • The rubber band around the pencil ensures that all sowing holes are equally deep.

  • Use the “box and spoon” method (chapter B) to sow the seeds in the holes of the mat.
  • Or use a “shove drop tray”.
  • Sow 2 to 4 seeds per mat hole (per mat hole); 2 seeds at “fresh” seed, and 4 seeds at 1 to 2 years old seed (6 seeds at even older seed).

  • Remove the mat.
  • Put a well fitting lid on.
  • Put the whole at a warm spot, for example on a heating unit or radiator.
  • Wait for plants to be visible.

  • (About) 7 days after sowing, first plants are visible.
  • Put a transparent box over the box.
  • Put the whole indoors before a windo at about 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F).

  • Seven days later, most Snapdragon plants are emerged (no more plants visible after this).
  • In each sowing hole, 2 seeds have been put in.
  • In most sowing holes, 1 plant is growing. In a few holes there are 2 plants. In 4 holes, no plants have emerged.

  • Twenty more days later, plants are this big.
  • They are big enough to replant in flower pots or trays filled with compost.



  • You can use a sowing stick to make holes in the soil.
  • This works well when sowing other summer flowers too.



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