The Best Seed Starting Kits and Tools to Get You Growing

The Mountain Valley Seed Co. Salad Seed Starter is our top choice kit.

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Starting your own plants from seeds is one of the most rewarding parts of gardening. Whether you’re eating something you grew or watching a hummingbird buzz around your flowers, it’s truly amazing to think about it all starting with a tiny seed. Plus, it’s incredibly inexpensive to grow from seeds. You can seriously save hundreds of dollars each year by learning how to start your own seeds successfully. 

Not only will it save you money, but it’ll also give you a huge head start for the growing season. By starting your seeds indoors or in a greenhouse instead of the ground, you’ll have strong, healthy plants ready to go once the risk of frost has passed. Seed starting isn’t rocket science, but you can give yourself an extra advantage by having the right supplies.

Here are the best seed starting kits to consider:

Best Overall Kit: Mountain Valley Seed Co. Salad Seed Starter Kit

5
Seed Starting Kit

Dimensions: 7.6 x 6 x 4.6 inches |  Weight: Under 1 pound

If you're looking for a seed starting kit that includes everything from the seeds to the container, this is it. The Mountain Valley Seed Co. Salad Kit comes with six types of non-GMO seeds, including cherry tomato, Romaine lettuce, carrot, mixed greens, cabbage, and radish.

To help ensure these seeds are successful, the kit also comes with a seedling tray and lid to help keep moisture in, grow medium, seed label sticks, and instructions. You can use this kit to get a head start on the growing season, before transplanting seedlings outside. You can also put the tray in a sunny window to start your seeds, and transfer them to larger indoor containers (also long as they have plenty of light!) for year-round growing.

Larger versions of the same kit with more gear and seeds are also available. Mountain Valley also offers a Culinary Herb Seed Starter Kit.

Best Budget Kit: Jiffy SuperTrive Seed Starter

Jiffy SuperTrive Seed Starter

Dimensions: 21 x 11 x 3.5 inches | Weight: Unknown

Looking for quick and easy? Jiffy is a well-recognized name for seed starting, and this kit really does make it simple. Just add water to the pellets, which come with the kit, and they’ll quickly expand to fill each cell. Then add any seeds you want—with 50 spots in this kit, you’ll have a great start for your veggies and flowers. This is a great and affordable starter kit.

TIP:

Keep in mind that it’s always good to grow more than you think you need just in case some seeds don’t make it. It’s also good to put a few seeds in each cell so you can see which ones germinate and thin them out later.

Biodegradable Kit: ACT Biodegradable Seed Starter Kit

ACT Biodegradable Seed Starter Kit

Dimensions: 9 x 14 x 4 inches | Weight: 2 pounds

With this kit’s biodegradable peat pots, you can transplant your seedlings directly from the tray into the ground. You have everything you need to get started, including three trays (with transparent lids), 80 miniature planting pots in two different styles, and bonuses like a seed dispenser and gardening gloves. Use this kit season after season, just replace the peat pots as needed.

With this and other kits, be sure your seeds get lots of direct sunshine or light. If you don’t have a good light source, you’ll want to consider investing in grow lights for optimal development of your plants.

Best Kit for Reliability: Super Sprouter Deluxe Propagation Kit

Super Sprouter Deluxe Propagation Kit

Dimensions: 20 W x 10 D x 7 H inches | Weight: 3.3 pounds

This is the unit you’ll want if you’ve tried growing seeds in the past without much luck. With the greenhouse-like dome and the additional light, it’ll give you the extra edge you need to finally be successful.

At first glance, it looks like most basic seed-starting kits with the simple black tray. Then the vented dome will help you create that perfect growing conditions with your seedlings. Plus, the grow light will make sure your plants get the hours of light they need to get a strong start. It even includes a little booklet, giving you tips on starting plants from seeds or cuttings.

Be sure to do a little research with this about when to start your seeds. It can be tempting to get growing as soon as possible, but timing is important. Ideally, you’ll move your seedlings directly from the dome to their garden bed or pot. You might want to find a seed-starting schedule for your area or ask at your local garden center.

Best Grow Light: AeroGarden 45W LED Grow Light Panel

AeroGarden 45W LED Grow Light Panel

Dimensions: 21 x 12 x 10 inches | Weight: 2 pounds 

If you have the right light, you can start seeds in just about anything, so consider investing in a unit like this. This grow light is perfect to hang from above or use the stand it comes with—it rotates as needed. The panel is the perfect size for a seed tray, and with energy-efficient LED lights that will last more than 30,000 hours, you’ll be able to use this season after season.

The mix of red, blue, and white lights will give you fast results and strong plants. It’s even good for maintaining herbs year-round. Combine this light with a hydroponic system or any other seed-starting method you use. It’ll definitely help you get you the results you want.

Best Way to Maximize Space: Burpee Two Tier Lighting Cart

Burpee Home Professional Two Tier Grow Light

Dimensions: 40 W x 27 D x 12 H inches | Weight: 21.5 pounds

There’s something nice and neat about having your seed starting contained in a designated space. If this sounds appealing to you, then this shelf unit, complete with lights, is perfect for you!

This unit includes two shelves, two adjustable lights, and it sits at 40 inches tall. Each tray measures 22 x 11 inches, and can hold about 32 plants on each, so you should have plenty of space to experiment starting different kinds of seeds. The shelf is made in the United States, and requires minimal assembly.

Best DIY Tool: Carrot Design Newspaper Pot Maker

Carrot Design Newspaper Pot Maker

Dimensions: 3 W x 3 D x 5 H inches | Weight: 9 ounces

This little pot maker is one of the most eco-friendly ways to start your own seeds. Essentially, it’s a mold that will help you make your own plant pods out of newspaper. It really keeps the whole process fast, simple, and inexpensive. You can use this year after year to make hundreds of tiny homes for seedlings. Another great benefit is that since newspaper is naturally biodegradable, you can just plant the pods directly into the ground (or a pot) once they’re ready. 

You can use this with a tray and lighting system, or just keep it simple and create your own growing system on a tray or your windowsill. It’s seed starting made easy, and it very kid-friendly!

Best Heat Mat: Vivosun Seedling Heat Mat and Digital Thermostat

Vivosun Heat Mat

Dimensions: 48 W x 20 D x .75 H inches | Weight: 3.6 pounds

Here’s another great option for those who have struggled in the past. This heat mat takes a lot of the guesswork out of seed starting because it’ll create the perfect growing environment for sprouting seedlings. It’s ready to go right out of the box—no setup required. Just add your pots on top of the mat, and then monitor with the thermometer already included. You can combine this with grow lights as needed.

Best Window Unit: Window Garden Double Veg Ledge Shelf Microgreens Growing Kit Bundle

Window Garden Double Veg Ledge Shelf Microgreens Growing Kit Bundle

Dimensions: 6 W x 15 D x 2.75 H inches | Weight: 3.4 pounds

This is truly an all-in-one kit that gets you growing immediately. All you need is a window that you know gets plenty of sunshine, and then you’re ready. This system turns any window into a miniature greenhouse. It includes everything you need, including fiber soil seed starters. The powerful little suction cups help hold up to 10 pounds, which should be plenty to get your seeds started. As soon as they’re ready, move them outside or to the next pot. It’s an easy way to grow herbs or to take cuttings as well.

Best Seed Starting Tray: Sili Seedings Silicone Seed Starter Trays

Silicone Seed Starter Trays

Dimensions: 4.25 x 6.25 x 2.7 inches | Weight: 10.6 ounces

If you want to reduce waste overall, then switch to silicon seed trays you can use again and again. They are perfect for the beginner or seasoned grower, no matter what kind of setup you have. The trays are made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone cells, which makes it easy to transplant your seedlings to their next growing spot. Easily label with a dry erase marker, directly on the side. 

You can reuse the silicon pods time and time again. Just add soil or pellets. After you get one set of seeds started and transferred to your garden, you can pop the unit into the dishwasher for quick cleaning. This two pack of trays has six separate pods in each one, and they also have a 10-pod option. 

Final Verdict

If you're in the market for a seed-starting kit that includes trays, soil, and seeds, then we recommend the Salad Seed Starter Kit from Mountain Valley Seed Co. If you’re looking for a reliable system with a grow light, consider the Super Sprouter Deluxe Propagation Kit

What to Look for in a Seed Starting Kit

Pot Material

When growing plants from seeds, try to create a sustainable system by either using pots that are biodegradable or pots that can you can use year after year. If you do use plastic pots, make sure they are BPA free and of food grade if you plan to start your own veggie seeds.

Lighting

Does your kit come with lighting? If so, does it have timed lighting? Are there instructions about how much lighting to use, how long to use it, and other details? While you can find information online about starting seeds, you can tell a lot about the quality of a kit, depending on what kind of information is included on things like lighting. This is true for the lights itself as well. Read about the wattage, how frequently you might need to change it, and other details to make sure you’re choosing your investment wisely.

Drainage

All pots, planters, and even seed-starting kits need to have proper drainage. Without this, you run the risk of getting moldy seeds or drowning your little seedlings. It’s a must—not just a nice to have.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When should you start your seeds?

    This depends a lot on where you live, what the temperatures are, and where you’ll be growing your plants. If you’re just starting seeds for the purpose of growing inside or on a windowsill, you can experiment with seed starting year-round. But if you’re trying to grow seeds ahead of spring or summer, you definitely want to get the timing right. The general rule of thumb is you want to start seeds about six weeks before you expect the last frost, but there are other factors to consider as well. If possible, join a local garden group in your area. Local gardeners will be extremely valuable in helping advise you.

  • How much water do I need?

    When you’re first watering seeds, it’s best to start light. You might even use a spoon to help you avoid disturbing the seeds as they’re trying to get established. You basically want to add more water when the top layer of the soil is dry to touch. It’s a simple test but effective for keeping a good system.

  • How much sun do I need?

    Budding seedlings needs as much as 10-14 hours of sunlight per day to really get established. This is going to be challenging for most people, so many need to supplement with grow lights. If your seed kit doesn’t include grow lights, you’ll definitely want to consider adding some because they can make a big difference in your overall success.

  • How many seeds do I need?

    Figure out how many plants you want to grow, and then double or triple that number in seeds. You never really know how many seeds you’ll lose until you get into the season. Often, gardeners will grow several seeds in one pod, then thin them out to leave the strongest ones. It usually doesn’t cost much more to grow a few more seeds, and you’ll definitely be glad you did. Then if you have extra, pass them on to a gardening friend!

  • Does it really save money?

    Definitely! Growing plants from seeds is one of the best ways to save money when it comes to gardening. If you can get the process down, you can seriously save hundreds and even thousands of dollars on plants. After you master the basics like herbs and veggies, then try to move on to more difficult seed-starting plants like perennials and shrubs. It’s so satisfying and incredibly resourceful.

More Seed Starting Resources

If you’ve tried seed starting in the past without much luck, don’t be afraid to try again. Often, the failures can be narrowed down to just a couple of main issues: Not enough light (the plants become “leggy”) or too much water (they don’t need much).

For all the basics on how to start seeds indoors, start with this article. You can also learn about damping off, another main concern, and how to avoid it here. You might want to start with seeds that are easier than others like the examples in this article. It’s definitely worth the effort to figure out how to get it right. 

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The author, Master Gardener Stacy Tornio, lives in Wisconsin so she knows how important it is to extend the growing season as much as possible. As a gardener living in Wisconsin, Stacy knows how important it is to extend the growing season as much as possible, and starting seeds indoors is a great way to do this. Stacy is a certified master gardener and naturalist, and she recommends signing up for all the seed catalogs so you can always be dreaming of your next plant to start from seed.