Growing Guides

How to Grow Petunias

How to Grow Petunias

Petunias are a popular choice for many gardeners. The numerous petunia varieties with vibrant shades and patterns make the options endless. Their blooms have a long flowering season, allowing you to enjoy the fresh, beautiful flowers for months.

Once you decide you want petunias in your garden, you must learn how to care for them. This guide will review everything you need to know about petunia care and maintenance. We will detail the steps for how to grow petunias from seed, seedling care, maintenance, common pests and diseases and popular varieties and answer frequently asked questions.

Reasons to Grow Petunias

Petunias are beautiful and functional, so there are many reasons to grow them. Many people choose to grow them to add color to their gardens with a low-maintenance flower. Other reasons to grow petunias include: 

  • Heat and drought resistance: Petunias are heat-and drought-resistant. They might be easier to grow than other flowers in hot climates.
  • Pollinators: Petunias attract pollinators, like hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Vibrancy: Since there are many color and pattern options, you can mix and match the flowers to create a vibrant effect in your garden.

About Petunias

Before you grow petunias, you should learn basic information about the plant. This can help you decide if petunias are right for you. A few facts about petunias include the following: 

  • Description: Petunias add color to gardens. They are hardy plants that can produce blooms all season. Most petunias available today are hybrids.
  • Plant type: Petunias are annuals
  • Light: They need full sun.
  • Height: Petunias can reach 6-22 inches tall.
  • Width: They can reach widths of 1-4 feet wide.
  • Flower color: The most popular colors are yellow, red, white, blue, pink and purple.
  • Foliage color: Foliage grows in blue or green.
  • Season features: These flowers bloom in spring, summer and fall.
  • Special features: They have a pleasant fragrance, are suitable for containers or baskets and require little maintenance.
  • Zones: The plants can be grown as annuals in all zones.

Types of Petunias

Types of Petunias

A wide variety of petunias exist, so breeders separate them by type based on flower size and quantity: 

  • Hedge Multiflora: Considered a "hedgiflora" petunia, this series is an aggressive grower ideal for landscapes. It exhibits high Botrytis tolerance, and an abundance of 2” blooms that recover quickly after rain and are great performers all summer long. Great for landscapes as a great groundcover when spaced at 24” between the plants, or as an upright dense mounded hedge when spaced at 12” between the plants. 
  • Spreading/Trailing Milliflora: Milliflora petunias are one of the earliest to flower in the spreading petunia class, and they yield a proliferation of 1½-2" blooms that blanket the mounded plants, making them superb for hanging baskets and containers. The Shock Wave petunia series has found its niche as the only small-flowered spreading series from seed, that is a great substitute for calibrachoa that continue to be difficult to produce from seed.
  • Spreading/Trailing Multiflora: These low-growing petunias are primarily multiflora types with medium blooms, but unlike the upright types the are great spreading plants that cover the ground. You can also plant them in window boxes, hanging baskets, and mixed containers. The Authentic Trailing Petunia™, Wave® has been a favorite brand of this type for more than 25 years.
  • Upright Grandiflora: The Grandiflora petunias have large, wavy single or double flowers. These petunias are susceptible to rain damage, so they are best grown in containers or hanging baskets. During dry, humid summers, they may rot, making them not fare as well in the south.Growing Petunias From Seeds
  • Upright Multiflora: These types of petunias are the most durable and prolific. They have medium, abundant flowers. Since they are more tolerant of wet weather, they are ideal for summer.

Now that you have learned more about petunias, here is a guide to help you grow petunias from seed. This guide covers everything from ideal growing conditions, sowing the seeds, caring for seedlings and transplanting petunias outside.

Ideal Growing Conditions

As with any plant, petunias thrive in specific environments. The ideal growing conditions for petunias are:

  • Sun: Petunias love sunlight, so aim for full sun. They prefer six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Soil: They need neutral or slightly acidic, well-drained soil.
  • Water: Spreading petunias don't require much water, and other petunias only require watering once a week. Petunias in hanging baskets or containers may need daily watering.

Sowing Petunia Seeds

A good idea is to sow the petunia seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost date in your area. This gives the petunia time to sprout before transplanting outside. When seeding petunias, you can sow them in soil blocks, trays or small containers. Trays are best if you are starting many petunias from seed. 

The steps for petunia seed planting are as follows: 

  1. Fill a tray or container with seed starting mix: Moisten the soil mix to fill the containers or trays, this allows the mix to have consistent moisture throughout the container.
  2. Plant the seeds: With any seeds, review the directions on the seed packet for proper planting. Petunia seed should be placed on top of the soil. If you use trays, you should only plant one seed per cell.
  3. Press the seeds firmly into the soil: Since petunias prefer light for germination, it's unnecessary to cover the seed with soil. Many growers and gardeners will use a light vermiculite coating to help maintain moisture levels.
  4. Water from above: With any pelleted seed it is recommended you water after sowing. A heavy misting right at the seed will help the pellet melt, allowing the seed to germinate. Any drying out at this stage, can lower germination as the pellet can reharden. For any of the multi-pelleted petunias do not attempt to dissolve the pellet within a single watering. Instead, maintain a moisture level of four to five (medium wet to saturated) from sowing until the pellet is fully dissolved. 

Germinating Petunia Seeds

Germinating petunia seeds indoors takes 7-10 days and is like starting any other plant indoors before transplanting. You want to:

  • Cover trays or containers with plastic domes: Large growers will use a mist bench to raise the humidity around the seed until the seed germinates. Growers and gardeners not utilizing a mist bench can achieve high humidity using plastic domes and misting daily until germination. 
  • Maintain the soil moisture: Provide uniform moisture level of 5 (saturated) until germination. With a level 5 saturation soil is dark brown and shiny, free water is present at the surface of the soil, water drips freely from the bottom of the tray, and trays are heavy with a visible bend in the middle.
  • Keep the planting media warm: heat mat for seedlings can keep your planting media warm, please remember air temperature and the temperature in the tray will not be the same. When germinating petunia seeds, the planting media temperature must remain between 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Using warmer water where possible will help keep the temperature from fluctuating too much.
  • Provide supplemental lighting: grow light should be placed 4-6 inches above the plants for 16 to 18 hours daily.

Caring for Petunia Seedlings

Now that the seeds have germinated and you see true leaves on your plants, they require different care for another 4-5 weeks.

  • Remove the heat mat: Petunia seedlings grow well at lower air temperatures ranging from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit at night. 
  • Continue to move the lights: Ensure you keep the grow lights and raise them as needed so they stay 4-6” above the plants.
  • Fertilize the plants: You can use an organic fertilizer to feed the plants every two weeks.
  • Keep the media moist: The planting media should be allowed to dry between watering. Alternate between moisture level 2 and 4.
    • 2 - MEDIUM: Soil is light brown in color, no water can be extracted from soil, and soil will crumble apart. 
    • 4 - WET: Soil is dark brown but not shiny, no free water is seen at the surface of the soil, when pressed or squeezed water drips easily, and trays are heavy with a visible bend in the middle.

Transplanting Petunia Plants

Healthy seedlings will outgrow germination trays in 5-6 weeks. At that stage, you should transplant them to the larger containers you intend to display the plants in, or into packs to grow for another 5-6 weeks until you are able to transplant or move them outdoors. 

They must be kept in a warm, frost-free area until you can plant them outside. Remember to place the petunias in direct sunlight and about 1 foot apart when you plant them in your garden.

  • Maintain temperatures: Keep plants in a frost free area with air temperatures ranging from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. 
  • Continue to move the lights: Ensure you keep the grow lights and raise them as needed so they stay 4-6 above the plants.
  • Fertilize the plants: You can use an organic fertilizer  to feed the plants every two weeks.
  • Harden the plants: Place them outside on warm, sunny days to harden them and prevent shock and prevent shock when transplanting.
  • Move pots outdoors or transplant into the garden after to place the petunias in direct sunlight and about 1 foot apart when you plant them in your garden.

Petunia Maintenance Tips

Once you've relocated your petunias to their permanent home, follow these tips to maintain their healthy, bold blooms:

  • Water: Thoroughly water your petunias about once a week in the ground, and as needed in pots and baskets, potentially daily.
  • Fertilize: Fertilize the petunias monthly to keep them at their peak.
  • Prune: Remove faded, old or dead blossoms from the plants. Cut back any petunias that become leggy, producing blooms at the ends of long, leafless stems.
  • Mulch: Spread a layer of organic material or mulch around the petunia plants. Mulch keeps the soil cool and moist and improves its texture.

Petunia Insects and Diseases

Petunia Insects and Diseases

Various insects and diseases can affect petunias. Some of the most common ones are: 

  • Botrytis Blight: This fungal disease is most prevalent during periods of cloudy, humid weather. It causes the flowers to develop white spots, turn brown and become covered in fuzzy gray masses. Treatment for this disease includes applying fungicides, removing the affected blossoms and not wetting the flowers when watering.
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus and others: Tobacco Mosaic Virus causes crinkled leaves, light and dark green mottled areas and mosaics. Other viruses may result in dwarfed, cupped leaves. There is no cure for this virus, so treatment focuses on prevention. To prevent this virus, place petunias away from solanaceous plants, like tomatoes and potatoes, manage insect populations and remove any infected plants.
  • Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus: Western Flower Thrips transmit this incurable virus. Infected plants develop black ringspots or blotches on the leaves. Manage the thrip population and remove any infected petunias to control this disease.
  • Greenhouse Orthezia: This dark-green or brown scaly insect secretes white wax as it feeds. It damages plants by withdrawing sap from them. Use pesticides as needed to control these pests.
  • Potato Flea Beetle: Potato Flea Beetles are small, black jumping beetles that eat round holes on the underside of plants. The top of the leaf eventually turns brown and dies. These beetles may make their first appearance during spring. You can use pesticides to control this pest.
  • Yellow Woollybear: A white, brown or yellow hairy caterpillar that feeds on petunias. If you notice any on your plants, you can remove them by hand.
  • Aphids: This tiny green insect loves to feed on plants. They suck out the nutrients, causing misshapen or yellow leaves, distorted flowers, leaf drop, a sticky excretion on leaves or black mold. Controlling aphids involves using a pesticide, cutting off the water supply, using slow-release fertilizers, avoiding excess nitrogen and encouraging aphid predators, such as ladybugs and spiders.
  • Slugs or snails: These insects create irregular holes in leaves and flowers, causing seedlings to disappear and leave a slimy secretion on plants or soil. You can pick slugs and snails off your plants and drown them in hot, soapy water. Avoid thick bark mulch and overhead watering, and place boards over the soil in the evening to keep them away. 

Petunia Care FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about growing petunias.

Will Petunias Self-Seed?

Petunia plants are self-seeding. Self-seeding annual plants drop their seeds in your garden before they die and return next year. The seeds germinate on their own.

How Big Do Petunias Get?

How big petunias grow depends upon the variety you choose. Grandifloras produce the most prominent flowers, while Millifloras have the smallest. There are many other varieties in between.

Do Petunias Return Each Year?

Petunias are perennials, so in ideal conditions, they come back every year. They can't handle frost, so they become annuals in colder climates.

Do Petunias Like Shade or Sunlight?

Petunias prefer direct sunlight all day long. They won't produce as many flowers if they are in the shade.

How Long Do Petunias Bloom?

Some petunia varieties bloom all year, while others last until the first frost. This also depends on environmental conditions and your hardiness zone.

Are Petunias Toxic?

Petunias are generally not toxic to cats, dogs or humans if your pets or children accidentally consume them.

What Month Is Best for Planting Petunias?

It is best to plant petunias anytime from September to November or late January to mid-March. Remember, petunias don't like frost, so try to plant them after your last frost date. 

Best Petunia Varieties

There are countless varieties of petunias, so there is sure to be one you like. Some of the best petunia seeds include:

Wave Petunias

Classic Wave petunia seeds are at any garden center. They are a spreading variety with abundant blooms that are good for baskets, containers or garden beds because you don't have to trim them. 

The easy Wave seed variety grows up on supports or in a hedge-like shape when planted close together. It requires fewer plant growth regulators (PGRs), spreads less and blooms sooner than the classic Wave petunia. Easy waves are annual plants that grow to 6-12 inches in height and spread 30-39 inches. They bloom in yellow, white, blue, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and many other shades and patterns. 

Tidal Wave petunia seeds, also called Hedgiflora petunias, are aggressive growers and form a shrub-like shape that lasts all year, has a high tolerance to Botrytis Blight and recovers quickly after rain. They produce 2-inch pink or red blossoms and spread 30-60 inches.

Grandiflora Petunias

This Dream variation of the Grandiflora petunia has 3 to 3-1/2-inch flowers and can withstand hot, humid and rainy weather. When you plant the seeds together, they bloom within seven days of each other. Blooms come in pink, red, burgundy, blue and mixed colors. 

The Daddy Grandiflora petunia features extra-large ruffled flowers with prominent veins. This variety blooms early, tolerates weather and is uniform in color. It spreads 10-12 inches and grows 10 inches in height. It's available in pink, blue or a mix of colors. 

The Sophistica Grandiflora petunia is a unique variation that features large flowers in one-of-a-kind colors and patterns. They spread 10-12 inches and grow 10-15 inches in height.

Double Cascade Petunias

The Double Cascade Petunia flower is an annual grower known for producing frilly blooms on the ends of long stems. They grow to 10-15 inches in height and spread 10-12 inches. Blooms come in blue, pink, burgundy or mixed colors.

Shop Petunia Seeds at Harris Seeds

Harris Seeds has provided high-quality flower and vegetable seeds since 1879. We stay current on industry trends and learn about new products. Our facility in Rochester grows and tests the latest varieties of plant seeds, so we can offer the best ones to you.

We have a wide selection of petunias in various colors and patterns — our collection of petunia seeds today to add a splash of color to your garden! With so many types available, we are sure to have what you're looking for.

Shop Petunia Seeds at Harris Seeds

How to Grow Gourds

How to Grow Gourds

Many gardeners enjoy growing pumpkins and squash, but few grow gourds. Gourds are in the same Cucurbitaceae family as squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe.

Like pumpkins, gourds are popular during the fall. Though they share similarities with pumpkins, most gourds have a hard shell, while pumpkins have a soft surface. 

Gourds are easily stored and retain their appearance throughout the winter. While you can grow them for food, most people grow ornamental gourds for fall decor. Certain varieties of gourds can also be dried and used for crafts.

With its many uses, you might be curious about how to grow gourds at home. This guide will give you some gourd planting tips and all the information you need to grow, harvest and store these versatile vegetables.

Shop gourd seeds from our online store!

Gourd Plant Information

Here is a list that contains basic plant information about gourds and planting them: 

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map explains where plants are likeliest to thrive based on an area's winter temperature. Gourds thrive best between zones 2a and 11b. They do not like frost, so ensure you check your seeds and home zone before you grow. 
  • Soil: Gourds can grow in almost any good garden soil that is well-drained, aerated and enriched with fertilizers. Sandy or clay loam soils are the best for an early maturing crop. Gourds are sensitive to acidic soils and prefer a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 with a slightly alkaline reaction. Wait at least three years if you planted other cucurbits, tomatoes, peppers or tobacco in the same soil because gourds are susceptible to some of the same diseases. 
  • Sun exposure: Gourds require a full day's worth of sunshine — at least six hours.
  • Planting: Before you grow, you need to know when to plant gourds. Growers plant gourds in the spring after the last frost has passed. If you don't want to wait, you can start the process indoors several weeks before the last frost and transplant them outdoors later.
  • Dimensions: Gourd vines can reach 30 feet long. 
  • Spacing: Gourds require 3-4 feet between plants and 8-10 feet between rows.
  • Depth: Seeds need to be planted 1 to 1 ½ inch deep in the soil.
  • Watering: A continuous water supply is necessary to grow healthy gourds.
  • Harvest: It takes 90 to 125 days for gourds to grow to maturity, depending on the variety.

Cultivation

Cultivation

Hard-shell gourds, or Lagenaria sicerarias, are one of the most essential plants in human history. They are thought to be the first plant domesticated by humans and date back to 5000-7000 B.C. These vegetables grew in many shapes and sizes and were initially used in their dried form as containers. 

Large gourds can hold up to nine gallons of water and were used to transport it from rivers to villages. Dried gourds are waterproof and have sturdy skin, making them ideal for keeping perishables dry and protected from insects and pests.

Household gourds stored seeds, fruit, honey and berries and collected rainwater. Small gourds were carved into dippers, eating utensils and digging tools.

Gourds had many other uses throughout history. They have been used as resonating chambers for musical instruments, bath sponges, tools, bowls, mugs and birdhouses.

Today, people mainly use gourds for crafting projects or decorations. The different types of gourds have two main groups that determine their use. These groups are hard-shell (Lagenaria siceraria) and ornamental (Cucurbita pepo).

Hard-Shell

Varieties of hard-shell gourds include the speckled swan, bottle and dipper.

Hard-shell gourds last for several years, and growers typically dry them after harvest for use as dippers, ornaments, birdhouses and storage vessels. The bottle gourd is the most commonly cultivated in the group.

Hard-shell gourds grow on long vines that produce white flowers. They are usually green or mottled fruits but turn tan if dried. When the fruit is immature, it is edible. 

Ornamental

Ornamental gourds are the most popular group. They are edible vegetables high in vitamin A but can also be used to make decorations.

They grow on vines like hard-shell gourds and vary in size, shape and texture. The flowers they produce are usually yellow, not white.

Sponge gourds, or luffa, come from this group and are used to make bath sponges. When a sponge gourd dries, its outer covering falls off, the watery flesh disappears and the seeds drop out.

Vascular bundles are left, and they become like a bath sponge when moistened.

Propagation

Gourds are warm-season crops that require plenty of sun and good drainage, or they won't develop optimally. When wondering how to plant gourds, there are two methods.

You can plant gourds from seeds outside or start growing the plant indoors before transplanting it outside.

Once outside, they need lots of space, continuous water supply and fertilizer. You can use mulches to conserve soil moisture and warm the soil. 

From Seeds

The easiest way to grow gourds is to plant them directly into the soil. To plant them outside, you must wait until the last frost has passed and the weather has warmed up.

Since gourds require neutral soils that are well-drained and aerated and have lots of nutrients, they are typically grown in mounds. Mounds maximize airflow and minimize humidity, preventing diseases.

Planting a gourd in a mound requires digging a hole about one foot deep and refilling it with fertilizer, such as manure or compost, combined with soil. Afterward, create a pile. 

The seeds need holes around 1 inch deep, spaced 3-4 feet apart. If you plant the seeds directly, plant them with the edge facing down. This allows water to run down both sides of the root and prevents rotting. 

The other option is to start your seeds inside and give your plants a head start. One problem with this method is that you could damage the plants during transplanting.

You can avoid this by growing them in biodegradable pots, so you can plant the entire pot and seedlings when you must transplant them.

You start the seeds indoors around mid-April in a heated greenhouse or seed propagator set at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take the seeds about 5-10 days to germinate, maybe more. You should plant the seeds edge down. They must be watered well and transferred to a larger container before they become root-bound.

Transplanting

Once the seedlings have developed roughly four leaves, they must be transplanted. They must be hardened a week or two before transplanting. You can gradually expose them to wind, sunlight and colder temperatures. 

Plant each seedling so the bottom two leaves sit right above the soil surface. Smaller gourds can be grown on a trellis, which saves space and produces cleaner fruit.

If you don't use a trellis, securing the plants to bamboo canes or another kind of support is best. This prevents them from developing kinks in their stems. Ensure you only lightly water the plants for the first week after transplanting them.

How Do Gourds Grow?

Gourds are easy to grow and maintain, so almost everyone can grow them. They love the sun and thrive in sunny spots with good drainage. These plants love nutrient-rich soil as they readily consume many nutrients. 

Therefore, you must plant them in rich soil with plenty of organic matter. A generous amount of compost or manure added to the ground will suffice.

You can add organic fertilizer to the soil but should avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. These types of fertilizers stunt the plant's growth.

Growing Tips

When grown on the ground, the vines stretch out in almost every direction, occupying a large amount of space. This is why the plants need to be spaced apart.

If you don't have the space on the ground, you can trellis the gourds and train their stems to grow up wires or over a framework. Trellising saves space, protects them from insects and rot, keeps them clean and ensures they grow into the same shape. 

If you trellis the gourds, you must keep weight in mind. Some gourds can grow large and require a strong, sturdy structure to support them. If you don't have a strong structure, you can plant the gourds near a fence or something similar for them to climb.

Gourd Maintenance Tips

Here are some gourd maintenance tips to help you have a bountiful harvest: 

  • If you transplant the gourds, it is best to pinch off the first few flowers until the plant is big enough to support fruit. This directs its energy to the growth and development of its root system.
  • Creating mounds when you plant the gourds in the ground will promote drainage and keep the plant warmer.
  • Pollination is crucial for gourds, so keeping a bee colony near is helpful.
  • Cut the vines back when they become too long to encourage the side stems to grow.
  • Gourds have shallow roots that damage during droughts, so make sure to give them access to water.
  • Mulch minimizes weed growth and helps the soil retain warmth and moisture. 

Managing Pests and Diseases

Gourds are hardy plants, but various pests and diseases can attack them. Be wary of these pests and diseases when you plant gourds:

Pests

Pests

Pests that may affect gourds include: 

  • Cucumber beetles: Cucumber beetles leave signs of feeding damage to blossoms, leaves and stems. They come from the soil and can transmit bacterial wilt. To manage them, you must apply pesticides and monitor plants for signs of beetles. 
  • Squash vine borers: These pests emerge from the soil as adults in the spring. They cause crops to wilt and create holes in the vines or sawdust at the base. To treat them, apply pesticide and plow the plants into the soil after harvest. 

You must use pesticides sparingly because gourds require pollinators to produce fruit. Insecticidal soaps and oils and organic pyrethrums are excellent organic pesticides. Other methods for preventing pests include: 

  • Selecting areas for planting that have not been used for cucurbit crops within the past three to four years. 
  • Covering seedlings with row cover after emergence or transplanting to create a barrier, preventing the insect pests from getting on the plants. 

Diseases

Unfortunately, many diseases can affect gourds, including:

  • Alternaria leaf blight: Signs include yellow-brown spots with a yellow-green halo on old leaves, large necrotic patches with concentric patterns and curling leaves. This disease is prevalent in areas with high temperatures and frequent rainfall. 
  • Anthracnose: Signs of infection are water spots, scorched leaves, decaying fruit and diseased vines. This is a fungal disease that favors warm weather.
  • Downy mildew: This fungal disease causes fungus spores on the underside of leaves that are purple to gray. It favors cool, humid weather. 
  • Powdery mildew: This disease causes small, white patches on the underside of leaves or leaves and stems covered in white, powdery spore masses. It is a fungus that favors dry weather with high levels of humidity.
  • Angular leaf spot: Insects, infected seeds, splashing rain, movement in the field and crop debris cause this bacterial disease. It can last for two and a half years. Signs include water-soaked lesions on leaves and white crust on or beside lesions.

Many other diseases can affect gourds. Infection with any disease damages and potentially destroys a crop. The best way to control them is to prevent pests and monitor water levels, humidity and temperatures. You can prevent diseases by: 

  • Rotating the crops every two years.
  • Not planting gourds in the same spot until three to four years have passed.
  • Removing crop debris.
  • Not overcrowding plants.
  • Using protective fungicides.
  • Watering plants from the base.

Harvesting Gourds 

It is nearly impossible to leave a gourd on the vine for too long, but if you remove them too early, it could wither and rot. Gourds may remain in the ground until frost destroys the vines or they deteriorate.

They should be lightweight at harvest, indicating the water is evaporating and the pulp is drying. It takes most varieties about 120 days to reach maturity. When you cut them, leave a handle on the vine. 

Storing Gourds

Gourds need to be stored in an aerated, dry space — like an attic, garage, barn or drying rack — or left on the vine. It takes them between one and six months to completely dry, depending on their size and shell thickness.

When they are dry enough, their seeds will rattle, and the gourds will be brown. You want the gourds to be dried if you plan to use them for decorations or crafts.

Most Popular Gourd Varieties

Numerous varieties of gourds exist, but some of the most popular include: 

  • Daisy: Daisy gourds produce small, colorful fruit. They come in shades of orange, white, yellow and green and are great for a fall look or Thanksgiving display.
  • Birdhouse: The birdhouse gourd is used for birdhouses and other crafts. They are larger and have harder shells than other varieties. This type of gourd is edible before maturity.
  • Turk's turban: Turk's turban are ornamental gourds, popular during fall. Growers use them for decorations, but they are also edible. These gourds are large, and brightly colored with orange, white or green stripes. 

Shop Harris Seeds

Shop Harris Seeds

Fall is the perfect time to harvest gourds. You can get a head-start on your next fall harvest by planting gourd seeds this spring. Harris Seeds has a wide variety of gourd seeds, so you are sure to find the one you want. 

Harris seeds have provided growers and gardeners with quality seeds since 1879. We are members of the American Seed Trade Association, National Garden Bureau, All-America Selections and Home Garden Seed Association. Additionally, we are a NOFA New York-certified organic seed handler. Enjoy growing gourds when you buy premium garden seeds from Harris Seeds.

How To Grow Sprouts At Home

How To Grow Sprouts At Home

If you've never had sprouts before, go ahead and add our Getting Started With Sprouts Collection to your shopping cart. After you've had sprouts once, you'll be hooked! 

Get Started with Sprouts Collection

Sprouts are the easiest way to elevate an everyday sandwich from mundane to memorable, adding nutrition and flavor to nearly any meal. Better yet, growing sprouts at home is simple and fun, even if you’re just getting started gardening.

What are sprouts, anyway? 

Sprouts are essentially germinated seeds. Sprouts don’t require light or soil to germinate–all they need is water to break dormancy. And unlike seeds, sprouts are a living food that contain nutrients and compounds that are more readily absorbed by our bodies. 

Don’t confuse sprouts with microgreens – while similar, the two crops are significantly different. Microgreens are typically grown in soil or another medium, and are harvested at the base of the plant. Sprouts, on the other hand, are grown for the complete plant–seed and all. 

Beans are commonly used for sprouting, but not all sprouts are legumes. Alfalfa, clover, and mung beans are some of our favorite choices for sprouts, but you can also grow broccoli, radish, and even sunflower seeds for sprouting!

Sprouts are full of flavor and add texture to sandwiches, stir fries, salads–you name it. The refreshing crunch of sprouts is hard to beat, no matter what the dish. 

Keep reading to learn how you can grow sprouts at home, and incorporate these tasty superfoods into more of your meal planning! 

Sprouts in Sandwich

Equipment You’ll Need To Grow Sprouts

You can begin growing your own sprouts at home with just a few pieces of equipment, like our Sprouting Jar and Lid.  Or, you may already have what you need on hand–a canning jar, canning ring, and cheesecloth or a mesh sprouting screen.

Sprout Jar and Lid

 

While premier equipment is nice to have for growing sprouts at home, there are cheaper options. You can substitute cheesecloth for a sprouting screen and use a rubber band instead of a canning ring.

Benefits Of Growing Sprouts

Growing sprouts is a perfect project for folks without much space to garden and anyone with the intention to eat healthier food for cheap. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a brand-new gardener, you can easily grow your own sprouts at home!

Easy 

Sprouts are inexpensive to grow and one of the easiest gardening projects you can take on. No need to have acres of land or a greenhouse, or fancy equipment like grow lights and seed-starting trays–you can grow pounds of fresh sprouts with a mason jar and a little water. Sprouts mature more quickly than microgreens, too–whereas microgreens take between one and two weeks to mature, most sprouts are harvestable in under a week.

Inexpensive 

You can grow sprouts at home for the cost of seeds. Most packets of sprouting seeds cost less than $10, and since most folks have a few canning jars and rings at home, perhaps even a piece of cheesecloth or mesh, you won’t be much out of pocket. If you don’t have any mason jars at home, check a thrift store or ask a friend to save a buck! 

Healthy

Not only are sprouts tasty, but they’re nutritious too! Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, sprouts are the easiest way to incorporate more greens into your diet. Sprouts contain as much nutrition as full-grown plants in a compact package, so a healthy serving of sprouts will give you far more nutrition than a serving of mature vegetables!  

Rich in easy-to-absorb vitamins and nutrients, sprouts are a superfood and a delicious way to consume more green vegetables. Plus, sprouts are a low-calorie food, so you can eat as much as you want! 

Less waste 

By growing your own sprouts at home, you’ll never have to worry about wasting store-bought produce–you can easily control how much you grow and when, so that you always have exactly enough sprouts to feed you and your family year-round. 

Available year-round

It’s easy to eat in-season vegetables during the summer months, but it’s hard to find fresh produce in the dead of winter. Fortunately, sprouts are a fresh food that can be grown and eaten year-round, without the costs associated with shipping produce. Sprouts are one of the most environmentally-friendly, wallet-friendly, and body-friendly foods you can grow and eat! 

Space and time-efficient

Growing sprouts takes up very little space, making it the perfect project for growers without a large garden. All you need is a sunny countertop and a few minutes twice a day to grow your own delicious and nutritious greens.

 

Sprouts Kit

How To Grow Sprouts At Home

This simple five-step process will provide you with gorgeous greens year-round! Before you begin, gather your three essential pieces of equipment. Make sure you start with quality seeds that are safe for sprouting (more on that later).

1. Soak the seeds

    1. First, scoop a few tablespoons of seeds into a quart jar. No need to get scientific–just eyeball it. While it doesn’t seem like a lot initially, the seeds will spread to fill the jar, so be careful not to overdo it. The more seeds you sprout, the better an ideal you’ll have for how many seeds of any particular variety will fill out the space. 
    2. Next, cover the mouth of the jar with either a piece of cheesecloth or a sprouting screen and secure with a canning ring or thick rubber band if needed. 
    3. Pour about two cups of water into the jar through the cheesecloth or screen. Use bottled water, or if you have city water, use tap water that has been sitting out overnight and allowed the chlorine to evaporate. 
    4. Twirl the jar and swirl the water around to rinse the seeds. Drain the excess water through the screen, taking care not to spill any water.
    5. Add two more cups of non-chlorinated water and allow the jar to rest for at least eight hours, ideally overnight. 
Sprouts Seeds in Jar Sprouts Seeds in Water

2. Rinse and soak
    1. The next morning, drain the water from the previous night. 
    2. Add two cups of non-chlorinated water to the jar. 
    3. Rinse and drain the seeds again. 
    4. Place the jar upside down in a bowl, and rest the jar at a slight angle to increase drainage and promote airflow, decreasing the risk of mold growth. The slanted surface also allows the seeds greater surface area to grow and expand within the jar. 
3. Repeat
    • Rinse and drain the seeds twice daily for three to five days. Rinsing seeds in fresh water daily reduces the risk of bacterial growth. Draining the seeds after each rinse prevents seeds from rotting before they even begin to sprout.


    4. 
    Process and harvest

      • After about three days, seeds will begin sprouting. You’ll see translucent stems develop into tiny yellow leaves that turn green with light and time. Sprouts will expand to fill the quart jar.  
      • Keep the jar in a dry, well-lit location to encourage photosynthesis, which renders the nutritive elements of sprouts more readily digestible.
      • When sprouts have reached an inch long and the leaves have turned from green to yellow, the sprouts are ready to use. Let sprouts drain fully, as this halts growth.

    5. Store sprouts
      • No further processing of sprouts is required after you allow the sprouts to dry fully in the mason jar. Don’t cap the jar with an airtight seal, as this shortens the shelf life of sprouts. Place the jar in the refrigerator–sprouts will keep for up to two weeks. Remove sprouts as needed and add to salads, sandwiches, soups–anything you want! 
    Sprouts Grown in Jar



    What to consider when growing sprouts

    Growing sprouts isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to buy just a few things to get started. 

    Seeds

    As with anything, you’ll want to start with quality seeds for the best finished product. Not all seeds are created equally, and while food grade seeds are great for cooking, you’ll see a much higher germination rate with seed quality sprouting seeds. 

    Shop this collection of high-quality, non-GMO seeds especially bred for sprout production. Whether you’re looking for something specific like Mung Bean Sprouts or Alfalfa Sprouts, or you want a more variety like our exclusive Sprout Lovers Collection, we've got you covered. Confidently browse our organic sprouting seeds knowing that your purchase is the right choice for your health and the planet.

    Mung Bean Sprouts Alfalfa Sprouts Bean Mix Sprouts

     

    Equipment

    While a canning jar, canning ring, and sprouting screen are one tried-and-true technique to growing great sprouts, as you gain experience you might find other methods and tools that work just as well. We recommend starting with these three essentials, but when you’re ready to expand your production you can invest in sprouting kits like this Victorio 4 Tray Seed Sprouter.

    Don’t have any mason jars at home? Make your life easier and order the 1 Quart Mason Jar And Sprouting Lid Combo and you’ll have everything you need to grow great sprouts. If you have mason jars already, Sprouting Lids are sold separately.

    Victorio 4 Tray Seed Sprouter

     

    Conclusion

    Growing sprouts at home is about as simple as gardening gets. All you need is a canning jar, canning ring, sprouting screen, and a little patience to be well on your way to healthier, more flavorful meals. 

    Browse our collection of the highest quality sprouting seeds on the market, and snag one of our complete sprouting kits to make growing your own veggies even easier! 

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