Growing Herbs from Seed

Enjoy flavorful herbs, fresh from your garden. While transplants are readily available and offer a quick-start, growing herbs from seed can be just as satisfying and rewarding.

Starting Herbs from Seed

  • Many herb seeds are tiny, so use a seed starting potting mix that is lighter than regular potting soil. This will make it easier for the little sprouts to push through the soil.
  • Place the trays or pots in a warm room, out of direct sun. Cover with clear plastic to keep the soil moist. Once they germinate, remove the plastic and place under grow lights.
  • Transplant seedlings before they get too large for their pots, and when the outdoor conditions are optimal. Harden seedlings off (gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions) before transplanting.


Herb-by-Herb Tips


Can germinate in four days in warm conditions. Basil seedlings do not like excess water, so let the soil almost dry out between waterings. Basil can also be direct-seeded into the garden, just be certain to keep the planting area moist until seeds germinate.


Can be direct seeded into the garden. Keep the soil moist, and seeds will germinate in 10-14 days. Perennial in zones 3-9.


Plant in peat pots for easier transplanting. (Otherwise cilantro resents transplanting.) Or sow in larger containers that can be moved outside after germination. Soaking seeds overnight in warm water before planting speeds germination. Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.


The larger seeds of dill are easier to handle than those of most herbs. Start indoors; seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.


This herb can sometimes take up to four weeks to germinate. To speed up the process, soak seeds overnight in warm water before planting. Start seeds in peat pots for easier transplanting. (Parsley doesn’t always do well in transplanting.) Or start in larger containers that can be moved outside for the season.


Seeds are very small, so gently place a few seeds in each pot or cell and lightly press into the soil as you start seeds indoors. Thyme seeds can take 2-3 weeks to germinate.

hands offering tomatoes

Stay in the Know

Never miss sales, updates, or news from Seed Savers Exchange with our newsletter.

Sign Up Now