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The Best Seeds To Start Indoors & When To Start Them

It’s time to plan your garden and stock up on seeds!

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Start tomato seeds indoors about 6 weeks before temperatures hit 55 degrees at night, says Renee Shepherd from Renees Garden, a seed company in Santa Cruz, CA. Tomatoes are “used to an extremely long growing season,” she explains, so they’ll do best when started indoors.

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Many herbs benefit from being started indoors, and you’ll find so many more varieties than you can find even at the best local nurseries. Chamomile is easy to grow, and kids adore it.

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From climbing varieties to mounding varieties, these easy-to-grow edible flowers are a must. Once you see the seedling pop up, Shepard recommends feeding all seed starts with a half-strength fertilizer about every 10 days until you transplant.

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“Basil is one of the most cold intolerant plants,” says Shepard, which means you can wait until nights are reliably warm to directly-sow it, or better yet, start it inside. Basil is also very popular, so to nab the most exciting varieties, now is the time to shop for seeds.

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Most culinary herbs

Many herbs do very well when started indoors rather than directly sowed. Chives, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme are all ideal seeds to start inside, Shepard explains. Start them inside about a month before the nights are evenly in the 50s.

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Cosmos are easy to grow, even for new gardeners, and do well when started indoors, Shepard says. Buy seeds now, she says, and “read their packet backs carefully” for specific instructions for yielding the best results.


Spicy or sweet, you’ll find so much more variety in a seed packet than you ever will in a store or even a farmers market, so growing peppers from seed — and starting them indoors 6 weeks before temps hit 55 at night — is the way to go.

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Time seed starts by “that 50-55 temperature range rather than last frost,” says Shepard, because of “all the wacky weather.” If you start “eggplants outdoors when it’s cold, they will sit there and shiver,” Shepard says, so they’re best started inside.

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You can wait until the soil warms up and plant the seeds directly in the garden, or you can start sunflowers indoors a month before nights are reliably in the 50s. If you want to get a jump on summer, now is the time to stock up.


Brassicas — like cauliflower, kale and broccoli — benefit from being started indoors sometime in late February or early March, depending on where you live. Like all the others, Shepard reminds that “you shouldn't plant them outside until nights are evenly in the 50s.”

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