Sowing in pots


Some seeds may need warmer temperatures to germinate. Sow seeds in pots indoors to achieve this or start crops earlier.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Sow a range of vegetable and/or flower seeds into plant pots, trays or recycled containers.

Essential background information


Choose the seeds to be sown and most suitable size pots.
Set out the equipment, put compost into large accessible trays or trugs.
Provide gloves if pupils have cuts or eczema on their hands. 
Print out the How to Sow Seeds sheets and Seed sowing glossary.


  • Small plant pots, module or seed trays, or recycled shallow plastic containers
  • Seeds to be sown 
  • Saucers to put seeds into 
  • Good quality general purpose compost 
  • Dibber (or pencil)
  • Compost sieve 
  • Pencil, plant labels or masking tape
  • Gloves if needed
  • Clingfilm, plastic bags or clear  propagator covers

Step by step

  1. Introduce the seeds to be sown – read the seed packet to give background and sowing depth.
  2. Write labels first, include the date and name of the plant. Alternatively write on masking tape and stick this to the pot.
  3. Crumble the compost with fingers so there are no large lumps.  Fill the container with compost over fill it and tap the sides 3 times. Use the flat of your hand to strike off excess compost and level the surface.
  4. Put seeds in a shallow saucer so they are easy to pick up.
  5. Sow the seeds: for large seeds make a hole with your finger or dibber twice the size of the seed, gently push the seed into the hole, then gently cover up the seed.  For small seeds sprinkle the seeds on top of the compost, allow space between the seeds
  6. Sieve a thin layer of compost over small seeds.
  7. Water carefully and cover with a layer of cling film/ plastic bag/ plastic propagator top to retain moisture and heat.
  8. Put containers in a sheltered place with good light such as a sunny windowsill, greenhouse or coldframe.

Hints & tips

  • Use the hand you write with to sow the seeds. Pick up tiny seeds between your index finger and thumb. 
  • Measure large seeds against your finger or label to work out how deep to plant them.
  • Colour in the bottom of the label to show the depth to sow.
  • Use this activity as part of Grow Your Own Lunch class growing topics

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