Best Seed Starting Trays - Backyard Boss
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Best Seed Starting Trays

If you’re planning on growing some plants or flowers, get familiar with the concept of starting seeds in a controlled area. Planting and germinating seeds in a place where you can control the environment and the circumstances they’re faced with is one of the best ways to give your seedlings a better chance at growing up viable and strong. However, not everyone has a greenhouse or a dedicated structure for sprouting their plants.

This is why seed starting trays are a must-have item for any gardener. They allow you to plant your seeds and give them a place to sprout and you can put them almost anywhere. Their portability and space-saving abilities make them perfect for someone who doesn’t have enough room for an entire sprouting shelter. In this article, we’ve laid out some of the best trays for seed starting so you can start your garden off on the right foot.

Backyard Boss Top 5 Seed Starting Trays for Indoor Sprouting

Sili-Seedlings Seed Starter Tray - Best Seed Starting TraysSili-Seedlings Seed Starter Tray
  • Material: Silicone
  • Color: Black, Green, Gray, Red
  • Cells: 6
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HORTICAN Galvanized Seed Starting Tray - Best Seed Starting TraysHORTICAN Galvanized Seed Starting Tray
  • Material: Galvanized Steel
  • Color: Silver
  • Cells: 9
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Gardzen 5-Set Garden Propagator Set - Best Seed Starting TraysGardzen 5-Set Garden Propagator Set
  • Material: Plastic
  • Color: Black
  • Cells: 40
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MIXC 10 Set Seedling Trays Seed Starter Kit - Best Seed Starting TraysMIXC 10 Set Seedling Trays Seed Starter Kit
  • Material: Plastic
  • Color: Green
  • Cells: 6
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MIXC Seedling Starter Trays - Best Seed Starting TraysMIXC Seedling Starter Trays
  • Material: Plastic
  • Color: Clear
  • Cells: 12
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Why You Can Trust Us

In my years as a professional landscaper and an amateur gardener I’ve always been looking for the best ways to give my plants a solid start in life. While I would love to have a structure like a greenhouse where I can plant my seeds and give them the best conditions for sprouting, this just isn’t possible with the limited amount of space I have. Because of that, I have discovered the beauty and simplicity of seed starting trays.

I quickly learned that seed starting trays are a great tool because you can keep them almost anywhere. In colder months, I can keep grass seed inside where they can stay warm, and move them between indoors and outdoors to make sure they get the right amount of sun. In this time, I’ve also learned what to look for in the best starting trays, so I don’t have to throw them out after every use. In this article, I will lay out some of the best options I’ve found so your garden can benefit from them as well.

Best Reusable Seed Starting Trays

Sili-Seedlings Seed Starter Tray
    This seed starter tray is a flexible, machine washable option for those who want to take extra care when removing and hardening off seedlings



Why We Like It: The Sili-Seedlings Seed Starter Tray is a great option for reusing starter trays due to its 100% silicone makeup. Its flexibility makes it easy to get your seedlings out so you can plant them. After using it, you can put it in the dishwasher to clean it.

Silicone is a perfect material for sprouting seeds because of its temperature regulation. It’ll help insulate the delicate root systems of germinating seeds and protect them from cold weather and moisture. The large drainage hole in the bottom will also help keep mold and mildew from forming in the bottom section.

Who Should Buy It: People who want a flexible, durable starting tray that doesn’t require a large amount of cleaning or maintenance after it has been used. 

Best Heavy Duty Seed Starting Trays

HORTICAN Galvanized Seed Starting Tray
    This galvanized steel tray has removable cells for easy switching and cleaning.



Why We Like It: The HORTICAN Galvanized Seed Starting Tray is a heavy-duty option. The strength of the steel allows roots to grow entirely into the soil plug, making for some of the strongest germination possible. It ensures that the tray won’t fall apart or deteriorate due to moisture or multiple uses. It’s also easy to clean.

One of the most interesting features of this starter tray is that it’s made up of several smaller trays and sections. It allows you to grow plants at various stages. It’s a great feature if you’re regularly growing different plants and would like to keep them all in one area.

Who Should Buy It: People who are serious about gardening and need a starter tray they can use frequently without worrying about deterioration will benefit from having it. 

Best Seed Starting Trays with Dome

Gardzen 5-Set Garden Propagator Set
    These large, covered trays can hold up to 40 seedlings per tray for high-volume gardens.



Why We Like It: This Gardzen 5-Set Garden Propagator Set uses plastic domes to create the same environment as a humidified greenhouse without taking up all that space in the backyard. The large, 40-cell insert tray can hold different seedlings, and the drainage hole in the bottom of the tray prevents some of the ill effects from overwatering. 

The transparent dome allows you to see and track the progress of your seedlings like grass and gives you an insight into how they’re progressing. By using different sets, you can set up different conditions for plants that are at varying stages of their growth and need individual temperatures or amounts of sunlight.

Who Should Buy It: It’ll be perfect for people who want to grow plants that need moisture to be locked in, but don’t have the room for a larger structure like a greenhouse.

Best High-Quality Seed Starting Trays

MIXC 10 Set Seedling Trays Seed Starter Kit
    This covered, high-quality seed starter tray features an adjustable vent and deep cells for strong root growth.



Why We Like It: The MIXC 10 Set Seedling Trays feature high-quality hard plastic and deep cells that give your plants enough room to grow strong root systems. The vents at the top of the dome also allow you to adjust the amount of humidity each tray develops for many plant types with different needs. This gives you more control over the sprouting process.

The cells in this starting tray are also relatively large, so you can give your seedlings plenty of space to get to their ideal germination size. With drainage holes in the bottom of each cell, you can properly adjust the amount of water for each plant and ensure that you don’t overwater any one seedling.

Who Should Buy It: People who want the best possible conditions for their seedlings and don’t want to have to throw out the starting tray every time they use it once will find this product a great fit.

Best Disposable Seed Starting Trays

MIXC Seedling Starter Trays
    These disposable seed starter trays feature clear cells for high visibility and drainage holes in each cell.



Why We Like It: These transparent MIXC Seedling Starter Trays are a great option if you don’t want to have to deal with cleaning and resetting trays when you want to reuse them. They feature clear plastic so you can keep an eye on the developing root systems and get a good idea of what the plants’ overall health is like if you have had to use less-than-ideal materials like expired grass seed.

Each cell features its drain hole and is a suitable size for most plants and seedlings. On top of that, you can either choose to reuse these trays after each sprouting, or you can recycle or throw them away.

Who Should Buy It: It will be a good choice for people who don’t want to clean their starting trays after every use, and want to see the progress of the root growth in every plant.

How to Use a Seed Starting Tray

Sprouting Seedlings In a Tray
Image credits: Eva Elijas via Pexels

If you’re planning on using a seed starting tray to grow your plants, you should know the best techniques to give your plants the best chance at germinating and sprouting. By understanding the process of using a seed starting tray, you can choose the type that will be the most suited to your home and the amount of time you can dedicate to the project.

Step 1: Fill trays with seed starting mix

First, fill the individual cells of the trays with seed starting mix. You can make it by using peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite which is a perfect mineral for absorbing and holding in moisture. You can find these ingredients at almost any home and garden store. Mix them evenly and add water until you have a damp texture like wet sand, then fill your trays with the mixture.

Step 2: Sow seeds

Place two or three seeds onto the surface of each cell and gently press it down into the mixture. Make sure you get a good amount of seed to soil coverage and only cover them with soil if they’re larger seeds like beans.

Step 3: Keep seeds watered and warm

You can water your plants by misting them with water and covering them with the included domes of the trays. If your trays didn’t come with domes, you can cover the seeds with plastic wrap. Keep the trays in the warmest part of your home or garage. Seeds don’t need sunlight until they sprout, so don’t worry about finding an area that is sunny until they’ve completely sprouted.

Step 4: Transplant seedlings

Once your seedlings have sprouted their first set of leaves, you can then transplant them to a larger pot where they can be alternated between indoors and outdoors. This process is called “hardening off.” Continue this process for a week. After this time, you can move the seedlings to the area of your garden where they’ll be planted outdoors.

Other Seed Starting Supplies

Seedlings Outside of Tray
Image credits: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

On top of a set of seed starting trays, you’ll need a few other supplies to give your seedlings a good chance at growth and viability. One of the most important tools you can have is a spray bottle with a mist setting. This is the best way to water seedlings as your starting mix will already be wet. Remember that you can’t overwater them.

Invest in some plant markers and high-quality felt-tip pens. It’ll help you recognize cells and remember what you have planted in your trays. A 5-gallon bucket is a great investment for mixing your starting mix and getting it to the proper consistency that you can pack into the tray cells.

How We Picked

In our search for the best starting trays for seedlings on the market, we looked for different factors. Proper drainage was one of the most important that we considered. Overwatering seedlings are the worst things you can do since mold and fungus can grow in the root system easily. Keeping the right amount of moisture through proper drainage in your tray cells will give them enough water to grow without any problems.

We also looked for trays you can reuse if you want to. We understand that not everyone wants to bother with washing and reusing a seed starting tray. However, the trays we chose are high quality and can be cleaned and reused if you desire.

The Best Trays for Seed Starting: Our Verdict

When it comes to finding the best tray for all-purpose seed starting, the Sili-Seedlings Seed Starter Tray is a great option. The high-quality silicone makes it easy to pull the seedlings out for transplanting without damaging the delicate root system. It’s important to the success of the seedlings. It’s also easy to clean and dishwasher safe, which is convenient for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning out their trays.

By finding the right seed starting trays, you can make the process of germinating and transplanting your seedlings as easy as possible. One of the keys to gardening is to make sure that it isn’t a chore so you can enjoy the wonder of plant growth and the beauty of the natural world. Seed starting trays that are easy to use and clean are a great tool and can help make gardening fun, just like it’s supposed to be.