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Seed Starter Kit: Our Comprehensive Guide

Photo of seed starter kit in pots

As many already know, growing your own plants from a single seed is a rewarding and economical way to a healthy garden. Using a seed starter kit is the best way to do this whether you want to start growing earlier in the season or just enjoy a more intimate look at the growing process.

Using a starter kit helps control the conditions that can otherwise hinder or prevent optimal growth. This will lead to fewer lost plants and a healthier garden overall. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to start growing your own seeds with ease.

What Is a Seed Starter Kit?

As the name suggests, a seed starter kit contains everything you need to grow a plant from as little as one seed, until it is ready to be transplanted outdoors or into a larger pot.

A seed starter kit will typically include a tray with a series of small pots or cells, each designed to contain one or two seeds and a small amount of potting soil mix. These trays are often plastic, but some are made with biodegradable materials that break down over time, meaning they can be transferred to outdoor soil along with your seedling. Some also contain self-watering systems to aid with maintenance or domes that will help control humidity levels.

While they are specifically designed for seeds, these kits can typically also be used to grow starter plants from clones or cuttings.

Why Use a Seed Starter Kit?

  • Greater control over several conditions during the important germination stage
  • Each seedling will optimize its use of nutrients and be easier to transplant as it matures
  • Able to experiment with different techniques in the individual cells
  • Greater control of a seedling’s water level
  • Allows control of ambient conditions like air temperature and humidity

variety of seedlings

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Using a starter kit allows for greater control over several conditions during the important germination stage. This will optimize healthy growth, improve your garden’s productivity, and ultimately make gardening a lot easier.

By being separated like this, each seedling will optimize its use of nutrients and be easier to transplant as it matures. You’ll also be able to experiment with different techniques in the individual cells to learn what works best for each type of seed.

Importantly, using a kit also allows greater control of a seedling’s water level, which is especially important during germination. The kit’s trays are designed for ideal water drainage, which is key to a plant’s health. Some seed starter kits include self-watering systems and greenhouse covers to help get this exactly right.

Finally, a starter kit allows control of ambient conditions like air temperature and humidity. Some kits come with heat mats to provide an optimal temperature for growth. Greater control of factors like water level, temperature, and humidity will promote healthy growth while helping avoid unwanted pests and diseases.

How Do I Grow Seeds?

person watering vegetables

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While some seed starter kits include extra features like domes, heating mats, and self-watering systems, they all require the same basic steps. Before you get started, remember that timing is everything. If you eventually want to move your plant outside, make sure the weather conditions will be favorable once the seedling has matured and is ready to transplant. Seed packets usually include instructions that will help get the timing right.

Once you’re ready to plant, it’s time to get some potting soil. Do not use soil directly from your garden; instead, you’ll want fresh soil that is made especially for seedlings. Add water to the mix, but be careful not to add too much. It should be lightly moist but still crumbly. Pack the soil firmly into the containers and make sure there are no gaps.

Now, check your seed packets for any unique instructions, including how deeply you should plant the seeds. After planting, lightly moisten them and cover with plastic wrap or a dome if your kit has one. Once the first tiny sprout appears, remove the cover.

Water, Light, and Air

From this point, you’ll need to pay close attention to water and light levels. As a general rule, keep your soil moist but not waterlogged. Smaller or surface-grown seeds tend to prefer top misting, while others benefit from bottom watering. This method keeps the surface soil dryer and thus, helps prevent disease. If you prefer the bottom watering method, consider a seed starter kit that includes an automatic bottom watering system. In this system, your seedlings basically pull water up from a reservoir as they need it. All you have to do is fill the reservoir from time to time.

You should also pay close attention to light. Face your plants south if growing them near a window and rotate them regularly to ensure even exposure. If using grow lights, place them a few inches above the tops of your seedlings and set your timer for 15 hours each day. You can raise the lights as seedlings grow taller.

Finally, make sure there’s good air movement around your seedlings to help avoid nasty soil-born fungus. If you don’t have a natural air movement, consider using a small fan near your seedlings.

When Do I Start Adding Fertilizer?

The first set of “leaves” you’ll see aren’t actually leaves. They’re cotyledons, which store food for the seed below. After these appear, you’ll see a new set of leaves that actually resemble what the mature plant’s leaves will look like. Begin fertilizing once this second set of leaves appears and follow instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the amount and frequency guidelines.

The first set of “leaves” you’ll see aren’t actually leaves. They’re cotyledons, which store food for the seed below. After these appear, you’ll see a new set of leaves that actually resemble what the mature plant’s leaves will look like. Begin fertilizing once this second set of leaves appears and follow instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the amount and frequency guidelines.

soil compost

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Should I Thin My Seedlings?

If you have multiple seedlings in one cell or container, it’s important to choose the healthiest one and give it plenty of room to grow. Remove the extra seedlings by snipping them at the soil line.

Moving Plants Outside

About a month after sowing, or once the plants are roughly 4 inches tall, they’re ready to move outside. To confirm, gently remove one of the seedlings from its container and check to see that its roots are beginning to fill the space. If so, it’s ready.

Once your seedlings have matured, don’t just coldly throw them outside! They’ve been coddled and cared for their whole lives, and they need a gradual transition to harsh outdoor conditions. First, about a week before planting them in your garden, place them in a protected outdoor area that is partly shaded and away from the direct wind. Leave them there for a few hours and bring them back indoors at night. Gradually expose them to more sun and wind throughout the week until they are ready for the final move. This process is called hardening off, and it helps your plant transition to a long and healthy outdoor life.


My Seeds Didn’t Grow Properly

Multiple factors can prohibit seedling growth, and most are tied to water, temperature, and light. First, after making sure you’ve given them enough time to germinate, check the seed packet and make sure you’ve met all requirements. Also, check if your seed starter kit came with any specific instructions you might have missed. If the soil was too cold and/or wet, the seed may have rotted. You can check this by digging it up and examining one of the seeds (if it’s swollen and soft, it has rotted). If the soil was too dry, the seeds may have dried up. It’s also possible that your seeds were too old. In any case, try again and make sure to get water, temperature, and light levels right.

My Seedlings Grew Too Long And Spindly

This has a few potential causes, the most common being lack of light. Try moving seedlings to a brighter area, or consider using grow lights to ensure they receive 15 hours of bright light every day. An overly warm temperature or excessive fertilizer use can also cause spindly growth.

durian seed growing

Image via Pixabay

My Seedlings Toppled Over

If seedlings have weak stems and begin to topple over, it probably means they were killed by a soil-born fungus. You can help prevent this by ensuring your seedlings get proper air circulation, or avoid it altogether by using a soilless growing mix. Once this fungus is present in your soil, it’s very difficult to get rid of.

There’s Mold Growing On My Soil

If you see mold on the surface of your plant’s soil, it’s probably because your soil is too wet. Try watering less often and make sure there is adequate air circulation around the plant containers. If natural air circulation is inadequate, consider using a small fan. You can scrape off the mold if you’d like.

dying plant

Image via Flickr

The Leaves Are Discolored

If leaves are pale or yellowish green or even purple, it’s generally a sign that the plant needs more nutrients. If you’re not already using fertilizer, it’s time to start or perhaps raise the amount you’re using. Check the fertilizer packaging and follow instructions accordingly.


Just like children, young plants need a great deal of care and attention when they’re young. Multiple factors can stifle growth or even kill plants at the crucial germination stage. The outdoor life is harsh; rain, sunlight, wind, and air temperature are unpredictable factors that can determine a plant’s life or death.

small plant in a pot

Image via Pixabay

To ensure success, gardeners often seek greater control over these ambient factors, especially during a plant’s crucial early days. Using a seed starter kit makes this process fun and easy while ensuring greater success rate and healthy garden growth.

There are many types of kits available to suit each taste whether you’re a hands-on DIY enthusiast or someone with minimal time who wants more automated help. Some kits include domes, heating mats, and self-watering systems, which may or may not be appropriate depending on your level of gardening experience or the types of seeds you’re growing. Consider all of these factors before choosing which seed starter kit is right for you and get growing!

Featured Image: Pexels

Why Raised Vegetable Garden Beds Are a Great Choice

raised vegetable garden beds garden-raised-bed-bed-plant

Raised vegetable beds have a number of advantages over planting your vegetable garden directly into the ground. And many homeowners find them more attractive. When made with care and appealing materials, your raised vegetable garden beds will look like part of the landscaping.

In fact, you can integrate outdoor lighting and seating into the design and layout. Raised vegetable beds also keep your delicate plants up off the ground, which means they’ll be less prone to disease and hard to access by rodents and other garden thieves.

Several common vegetable plants are susceptible to fungal diseases because they grow on the ground. You’ll also find raised beds easier to cover with netting to prevent squirrels and raccoons from raiding your garden.

And in the case of vertical, raised beds, you’ll also find you need less netting to protect them when they’re fewer square feet.


In your raised garden vegetable beds, you’ll have better control over the soil quality. Many gardeners spend hours double-digging gardens on their property and adding many cubic feet of soil amendments.

And this adds up to quite a bit of time and money. In a raised garden, you’ll use less potting soil and will be able to add any amendments or compost you like easily.

And it won’t wash away, so you won’t waste fertilizer or risk runoff into the ecosystem, either. And last, but certainly not least, raised garden beds are much easier on your back.

Best Vertical Planters and Raised Vegetable Garden Beds

After researching a number of manufacturers, we’ve identified the following companies that produce high-quality raised vegetable beds for vertical gardening.

While many are fine for ground level use, those that provide planters for vertical gardening are fewer in number.

How We Reviewed?

We compared the materials used for construction, special features, pricing, and the attractiveness of many different designs. Then, we compiled a list of several well-rated raised garden beds.

We examined the company histories and consumer satisfaction reviews, as well as looking at registered complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Many of these companies distribute their products through established retailers, so we also checked these stores for customer reviews. We also looked at professional reviews from industry experts to collate our list.

Yaheetech 3 Tier Wooden Raised Garden Bed

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Founded in 2013, Yaheetech sells a number of home office and outdoor furnishings through a variety of retail sites, including Amazon, Walmart, and Newegg. They produce a number of garden structures, including raised garden beds and planters.

Although not accredited with the organization, Yaheetech has only two registered complaints with the Better Business Bureau registered over the last three years.

Three-tier wooden elevated raised garden bed planter box kit

Made of natural cedar, this three-tier step design from Yaheetech offers ample room for a variety of vegetables. Measuring 4 by 4 feet overall, each step is 15 inches deep for planting sizable plants like tomatoes and peppers, that need more room to thrive.

This planter holds about 18 cubic feet of soil when filled, and can accommodate up to 12 planting blocks when using the square foot gardening method. The simple dovetail design means it’s easy to assemble anywhere you choose to place it.

Natural Wood Raised Garden Bed Planter Box Kit

Add this natural wood raised planter to your vertical vegetable garden. Measuring 48.8 inches long, 23 inches wide, and 29.9 inches high, it’s just the right height for easy harvesting without back pain.

The grow box itself measures 9.3 inches deep, and holds about 2 cubic feet of soil. The generously sized planter box provides enough space for eight square-foot gardening blocks. And the drainage holes are pre-drilled for your convenience.

raised vegetable garden beds Mr. Stacky
Mr. Stacky High-Grade Metal Raised Garden Bed Kit

The Mr. Stacky company specializes in products for vertical gardening. Along with several raised vegetable garden beds made from durable steel, they also produce stackable vertical gardening planters.

Their vertical gardening system is innovative and flexible, and can be used for hydroponic gardening as well as potting soil. Mr. Stacky isn’t Better Business Bureau accredited.

However, the agency records no complaints about the company since the BBB opened their file in early 2017. Thought they have recorded one glowing, five-star review.

Large vertical gardening stackable planters

This set of five stackable vertical planters holds up to 64 quarts of soil and 20 plants. When assembled, it measures 18 inches in diameter and 38 inches high. It comes in terra cotta colored or black plastic, and you can grow cherry tomatoes, strawberries, greens, and other vegetables in the individual pockets.

The center of each planter pot has a hole, so you can stack them on a PVC or aluminum pole for stability. With the central pole in place, you can stack them up to 10 planter pots high. Water the top planter, and the drainage holes irrigate the ones below

Many reviews noted the ease of use for those with physical limitations, and others found they could add compost and garden worms via the central holes for healthier harvests.

Mr. Stacky high-grade metal raised garden bed kit

For planting closer to the ground, Mr. Stacky makes standard raised vegetable garden beds from durable metal. Easy to assemble, the 12-inch high walls help provide better aeration to plant roots than those planted directly in the ground receive.

The steel panels will not break down like lumber, and they’re painted and treated for rust, so they look great for many years.Your finished garden bed will measure 46 inches by 35 inches, and hold 11 cubic feet of soil.

This will gives you room for about 10 to 12 vegetable planting blocks when using the square foot gardening system. Most of the positive reviews highlighted the product’s attractive appearance and ease of assembly.

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Gronomics Rustic Planter Box

Gronomics offers a very large range of garden planters and raised vegetable garden beds manufactured in the U.S. and designed for easy access.

Parent company Rivard enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, although it hasn’t been accredited through the agency as of yet. The BBB has recorded no complaints about the company, which has been in business since 1989.

You can find Gronomics vertical gardening planters and raised beds in many online and brick and mortar retail stores, including Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair.

Gronomics also offers a YouTube channel with product information, including assembly instructions and troubleshooting tips.

Gronomics VG3245 vertical garden planter kit

Measuring 32 inches wide, 45 inches high, and 9 inches deep, this vertical garden planter provides over 17 linear feet of gardening space, yet it only takes up about 2 square feet with its efficient footprint.

With a drip irrigation system included, this kit will accommodate up to 16 smaller plants. Add cherry tomatoes, leafy greens, and strawberries, with a capacity of 4.5 cubic feet of potting soil. Made of 100 percent durable Western cedar, it will last you for many years and many harvests.

Rustic elevated REGB garden bedA

Arguably one of Grownomic’s most popular products, the RGB raised vegetable garden beds feature tool-free assembly, yet look fabulous in any yard. Its clean lines, rustic appearance, and 100 percent Western red cedar components make it suitable for a wide range of landscape styles.

For a higher planter that’s easy to reach, chose the model that measures 48 inches long, by 24 inches wide, by 32 inches high. It accommodates up to eight large plants using the square foot gardening system, and has a 4.7 cubic capacity for garden or potting soil.

To add a lower level, check out the RPB 18-48-18, which is 48 inches long, by 18 inches wide, by 19 inches high. Its grow box is 9 inches deep, and it pairs beautifully with the taller model.

CedarCraft Elevated Cedar Planter

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Cedarcraft specializes in “rescued” cedar wood garden products made from mill leftovers that would normally be discarded. They also use untreated Western Red Cedar that is sustainably grown. The company also boasts that every one of their kits can be assembled in about 15 minutes. Featured in Garden Center Magazine, they special in beautiful and functional Raised Vegetable Garden Beds and vertical planters.

CedarCraft cascading garden planter

This three-tiered planter raises your precious garden vegetables off the ground to protect them from disease, as well as making them easier to tend. This planter measures 34 inches wide, 38 inches long, and 37 inches high, making the most of its small foot print. Using the square foot gardening method, it will accommodate up to 9 vegetable plants using about 2.4 cubic feet of potting soil. Note that the planting space is only 6.5 inches deep, so it’s more suitable for shallow rooted plants.​planting space​​​

CedarCraft elevated cedar planter

Measuring 49 inches wide, 23 inches deep, and 30 inches high, you’ll find the CedarCraft elevated planter easy to tend without back pain. It’s also high enough to keep rabbits and other garden pests away from your raised vegetable garden beds. The planter offers an 8-inch planting depth and uses approximately 4.1 cubic feet of potting soil. Made of Western red cedar, it’s also naturally resistant to insects and will stand up to many climates for years on end.

Choosing Raised Vegetable Garden Beds


Image via Pexels

Raised garden beds come in a variety of materials, from treated wood to plastic to even concrete structures. The type you choose will depend partially on your décor preferences and partially on your gardening plans.

Your budget will factor in as well. High-quality materials like cedar and powder-coated steel cost more but also last longer. Although treated pine looks nice and costs less, it may not have the lifespan that hardwoods offer.

Where to Find Raised Vegetable Garden Beds


Image via Pixabay

Many homeowners create raised beds by installing outdoor lumber directly onto the property and building basic boxes with timber. However, vertical gardening will require more skill and forethought.

For raised garden beds for vertical gardening, you’ll need to build up, which means providing more strategic support.You can usually purchase raised beds and vertical planters from your local home improvement store or garden centers as well as online retailers.

Many homeowners find it easier to work from a pre-packaged kit in order to have everything they need at hand. This allows them to quickly and easily assemble their raised vegetable garden beds as soon as they’re delivered.

The cost of using raised vegetable garden beds will depend mainly on the materials used. The size or number of units you need to complete your vegetable garden will also factor in, too.

Naturally durable materials may cost more, as will spacious units that accommodate a larger number of plants.

Starting Your Raised Vegetable Garden Beds

vegetable garden

Image via Pixabay

If you’ve been thinking about trying raised vegetable garden beds to increase the size of your harvest without using any more space, you’ll find a wide range of products to choose from.

The Mr. Stacky planters are great for smaller plants and leafy greens. And best of all, you can stack them many feet high to save room in your garden.CedarCraft and Grownomics are established companies that use durable, high-quality materials.

Their raised vegetable garden beds may cost a bit more, but cedar is known as the most durable wood for all-weather construction. If you’re on a budget, the Yaheetech line offers wallet-friendly planters.

They may require more assembly skills, but you’ll get a good deal for your dollar. If none of these models suit your tastes, or you prefer a more DIY approach to gardening, you can purchase plans for a number of vertical gardens and raised planters online.

raised vegetable garden icon  image

Image via Flaticon

You’ll even find free plans for simple raised beds from the Farmer’s Almanac online Whichever you choose, you’ll find vertical gardening much easier on your back and knees.

Raised beds protect your vegetable garden from disease. If you use landscape fabric inside them, it reduces weeds and improves water retention as well. Most of all raised vegetable garden beds save you a great deal of work.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Rooting Hormone: What Is It and When to Use It?

Rooting Hormone — What Is It and When Should I Use It

New gardeners often find themselves thrilled to learn additional ways to add new plants to their vertical gardens. And rooting hormone can help you propagate more of your favorite plants with very little cost. You can take cuttings from many of your common garden flowers to grow new plants without having to spend a lot of money. Using a rooting hormone is also a great way to ensure that your new plants are just like the ones you’ve purchased before. If you’ve ever bought an outstanding flowering shrub and fell in love with it, you know the tragedy that occurs when you go back to buy another one and discover there are none left.

You'll be happy to find out that you can grow a whole new shrub – even dozens of them – by rooting new plants from carefully made cuttings. By doing so, you’ll be sure your new plants have the same characteristics as the parent plant. This isn’t true for seeds, which may produce a flower with a slightly different color. And it certainly isn’t true for new plants you buy. Most big box stores and home centers add labels to their plants, but unfortunately, some information can be lacking from these labels. You may get a different cultivar of the same type of plant. And only later, you'll discover that it blooms a different color or doesn't grow as tall.

What is A Rooting Hormone?

You’ll find rooting hormone in many online stores or home centers. You’ll find it’s inexpensive, too. You can root many plants without rooting hormone; often you can root them in a glass water or a light potting medium that you mist daily. However, the auxin hormone accelerates the process and usually results in a stronger root system. Auxin makes rooting cuttings more reliable, since not every cutting you take will grow. The rooting hormone increases the odds.

Rooting Hormone Ingredients

Auxin or IAA

Indole Acetic Acid


Indolebutyric Acid


Naphthaleneacetic Acid

The principle ingredient of rooting hormone is a naturally occurring chemical called indole acetic acid, also called Auxin or IAA. The chemical is found in all types of plants to encourage new growth, and it induces cell division, root production, and fruit development. It also makes your plants turn towards the sunlight.

The synthetic forms of this natural hormone include Indolebutyric acid (IBA) and naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA). You’ll find these synthetic chemicals in many commercial rooting hormone products.

Types of Rooting Hormones

Rooting Hormone

Image from MaximumYield.com

Whichever type of formula you choose, the instructions are very similar for all types. Dip the cut end of your sample up to an inch in rooting hormone and then plant directly into a hole in the rooting medium.

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If using a powdered hormone, you may want to dip the end in water first to moisten it before dropping it in the powder. Also, make sure you don’t remove the powder by shoving the cutting into too small a hole in the growing medium.

Factors for success

Also vital to success is where you place your final cut. Find a healthy node – a section of the stem that appears like a knot and may currently have shoots ready to grow. Make your final cut directly below the node, at a steep angle. This angle will increase the surface area available for rooting. Then, remove all but the top leaves from the cutting before dipping it in the rooting hormone.

The importance of timing

One of the most important factors for success is when you take the cutting. Most horticulturists agree that taking cuttings from new growth works best. Our own experience reflects that suggestion. We recently took several lantana and hibiscus cuttings for propagation, and while many of the soft-stemmed samples rooted beautifully and thrived, only one of our woody stemmed lantana cuttings took hold, and none of our woody hibiscus cuttings rooted.

Another important factor for taking a successful cutting is the time of year. Early spring, when the plant is already enjoying its own supply of auxin and in fast-growth mode, seems to be the most productive time. Summer also serves well, between waves of blooms. Many plants have their own schedules, which can vary from one hardiness zone to another. So, you may want to do a little research into each particular plant before taking cuttings.

Rooting medium

Make sure that you use a light medium when taking cuttings. Avoid using garden soil, which can be too heavy for delicate root systems to push through. You can use a very light potting soil or even sand. Peat moss mixed with potting soil and peat pellets are good choices as well. We’ve used peat pellets to propagate a few small cuttings from various herbs like thyme and basil.

When to Use Rooting Hormone?

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You may not need rooting hormone for every plant you want to propagate. Many soft-stemmed herbaceous plants will root just fine in a glass of water or a light growing medium and adequate moisture. Others seem to need a little push to root successfully.



Image from Pixabay

Flowers that root well without hormone dipping include coleus, impatiens, petunias, and portulaca. We can report from experience that portulaca will root to the spot if you just drop a stem onto the lawn or flower bed. We’ve tested portulaca with and without rooting hormone and found no extra benefit gained from the use of rooting hormone. Tea roses will also grow fine from cuttings without the use of rooting hormones.

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Cuttings that require rooting hormone to take hold include dahlias, lobelia, and hibiscus. Osteospermum, or African Daisies, are very difficult to propagate without using rooting hormone. Lantana also benefits from using a rooting formula. We’ve successfully added substantially to our collection of golden dewdrop and tropical hibiscus, thanks to rooting hormone and a humid environment.


tomato plant

Image from Pixabay

You can also root cuttings from your vegetable garden. Taking a cutting from a fully developed plant can extend your growing season. By mid-summer, tomatoes and peppers seem to fade once the temperatures get too hot, primarily after they’ve produced fruits. In the South, tomatoes stop producing once nighttime temperatures hit the 80s, which is rather early in the summer. Starting a cutting at the right time means you’ll have fresh tomato and pepper plants growing for a second harvest in late summer or fall. We recently rooted healthy cuttings from our exhausted spring tomato plants once the temperatures got too high, and now we’re looking forward to the second batch of tomatoes for fall with new blooms.

Some horticulturists now recommend using rooting hormone twice: once on the stem before planting into the medium and again three to five days later with a foliar spray. They found that subsequent treatments improved the chance that woody stem cuttings from older plants would root at all.

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You may notice the label on your rooting hormone says that you should only use it following the exact instructions. It may make you wonder if it’s dangerous or toxic. Why the dire warnings? Labels on rooting hormone specifically state that it’s against Federal law to use it in any other manner than the instructions provided.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates garden chemicals and requires the label on all such products. For the most part, the rooting hormone is safe, although it can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Also, some brands contain “extra” ingredients, like fungicides, which you don’t want to inhale or absorb through cuts on your hands. But, you won’t end up with a killer plant like Audrey from “The Little Shop of Horrors” if you use it improperly. That said, its best to use all garden chemicals carefully and sparingly to avoid sending them into the water table via runoff.

What About the Dire Warning Labels on Rooting Hormone?

​What about the dire warning labels on rooting hormone

Image from Ananda Kalyani

You may not need rooting hormone for every plant you want to propagate. Many soft-stemmed herbaceous plants will root just fine in a glass of water or a light growing medium and adequate moisture. Others seem to need a little push to root successfully.


Flowers that root well without hormone dipping include coleus, impatiens, petunias, and portulaca. We can report from experience that portulaca will root to the spot if you just drop a stem onto the lawn or flower bed. We’ve tested portulaca with and without rooting hormone and found no extra benefit gained from the use of rooting hormone. Tea roses will also grow fine from cuttings without the use of rooting hormones.

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Cuttings that require rooting hormone to take hold include dahlias, lobelia, and hibiscus. Osteospermum, or African Daisies, are very difficult to propagate without using rooting hormone. Lantana also benefits from using a rooting formula. We’ve successfully added substantially to our collection of golden dewdrop and tropical hibiscus, thanks to rooting hormone and a humid environment.


You can also root cuttings from your vegetable garden. Taking a cutting from a fully developed plant can extend your growing season. By mid-summer, tomatoes and peppers seem to fade once the temperatures get too hot, primarily after they’ve produced fruits. In the South, tomatoes stop producing once nighttime temperatures hit the 80s, which is rather early in the summer. Starting a cutting at the right time means you’ll have fresh tomato and pepper plants growing for a second harvest in late summer or fall. We recently rooted healthy cuttings from our exhausted spring tomato plants once the temperatures got too high, and now we’re looking forward to the second batch of tomatoes for fall with new blooms.

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Some horticulturists now recommend using rooting hormone twice: once on the stem before planting into the medium and again three to five days later with a foliar spray. They found that subsequent treatments improved the chance that woody stem cuttings from older plants would root at all.

Natural Rooting Hormones and Boosters

With concerns about synthetic chemicals, many gardeners and farmers are turning to organic means to incite better rates of rootings in their cuttings. We’ll discuss a few of these solutions here so you can use them yourself should you decide that a synthetic formula isn’t for you.

Willow extract

willow bark

The bark of the willow tree contains salicylic acid – the common ingredient in aspirin. You may have seen some herbal remedies recommend willow bark tea for headaches and fevers, and this is why. The growing tips of willow also contain indole butyric acid (IBA) in high concentrations. As well as being a natural product, it seems to be as effective as commercial products.


pure honey

Image from Pixabay

While not a rooting hormone, many organic gardeners find that honey’s antiseptic and antifungal qualities help protect tender cuttings from microbes in the soil that would attack them and break them down as dead tissue. Honey may give the cutting a head start for rooting naturally.



Image from Pixabay

Some garden experts recommend using cinnamon when rooting your cuttings. Like honey, it has antibacterial qualities and can help protect the cutting from disease while it produces its own rooting hormone to get established.

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Made of synthetic salicylic acid, aspirin makes an inexpensive rooting powder when propagating cuttings. Add a standard aspirin tablet to a cup of water to dissolve it. It may help to crush the table first. Then, soak your cuttings in the water for several hours before planting them into the rooting medium.

The Joy of Cuttings

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It’s the next best thing to cloning! Propagating new plants from your tried-and-true favorites is a frugal and fun way of filling your garden with more flowers. It’s also a great way to swap and share plants with your gardening friends.

The cost of plants can add up, especially when you’re on a budget. So, the ability to add to your collection without spending much money is very attractive. What makes it irresistible is that you already know that particular plant does well in your vertical garden and in your climate. Success follows success, with a little rooting hormone powder and practice.

Finding the Best Grow Tower for Vertical Gardening

vertical garden

It's time for many of us to literally grow up because we're discussing something called a grow tower. This vertical grow system allows all varieties of plants to grow straight up. They are catching on fast because they take up far less space, conserve water, and can be easy to maintain. Grow towers make gardening easy. Even people with "brown thumbs" can get growing fast without all the hassles of digging and maintaining a traditional garden. Even better, people with mobility issues can harvest crops while standing up with some of the taller vertical grow systems.

Actually, many people are creating their own handmade grow towers, but there are many great models now available for purchase online too. We will review some of the best grow towers widely available on the market. Your next gardening project may be just a few clicks away and delivered to your door shortly.

Keep in mind that some people refer to the models that use traditional potting soil as "tower gardens" and those that use a hydroponic growing method as "grow towers." However, as you'll see, the models below are often a hybrid of the two. There is a lot of flexibility to customize and to pick a garden growing system that works just right for you.

Comparison Table

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Things to Consider When Picking a Grow Tower

Grow Tower

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Here, we've compiled some of the basic concerns you'll no doubt want to think about before making a purchase.


Space available

Plant types

Maximum number of plants


High humidity in the home


Size and weight

Growing Mediums

Let's dig into the details of the two main substrates, one of which you already know for sure.

digging some soil

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Hydroponic systems

Hydroponic systems

Aeroponic systems


mini garden

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If your grow tower is outdoors, you can take full advantage of the sun's rays. You can rotate many of the systems to expose plants in the shadows to the sun whenever you like. It's a great option when your tower sits against a wall or corner. It also keeps the plant growth uniform as the leaves reach out for the precious sunlight in all directions rather than to one side.

Very briefly, if you grow your plant indoors, then you'll rely on grow lights unless you have the perfect spot near a window or sunroom. There are now many LED lighting systems for plants, but the typical fluorescent lights made for growing plants are an old stand-by. Since LED lights are becoming more and more affordable and are so energy efficient, they are often worth a higher initial investment. Whatever lighting system you choose, consider the additional cost when you select your grow tower.

Special Features

Let's narrow down some of the reasons why one design might appeal to your specific gardening goals more than another.

Space for roots

Composting ability



How We Reviewed the Best Grow Towers

vertical garden

Image Via pixabay

We reviewed the following models by looking at their availability online, favorable customer reviews, flexibility, ease of use, attractive design, and cost. There are many countless models on the market as grow towers are also growing in popularity. We hope this list will make it easier for you to start your garden and see what's available. It will give gardening enthusiasts and novices a quick reference and hopefully encourage you to jump, or should we say, dig in.

Our Top Picks of the Best Grow Towers

Now the moment we've been waiting for: Let's check out grow towers just a click away for purchase. Will you see one you just can't live without?

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This tower could grow 40 plants in just four square feet. The large and robust tower allows for deep root systems. It's big and heavy, but it also spins like a carousel for easy access to all plants. Some of the models come with built-in wheels too, making it very easy to move around. It's so large, it's much better for use with potting soil mixtures. You'll want to pick one that is nice and fluffy with additives like perlite, coconut coir, or peat moss. You get the idea: Don't go for something heavy and bulky.

One of the very best features of this model is the "vermicomposting" nutrient delivery system in the middle tube. This system allows the use of compost with red wiggler worms or earthworms which produce beneficial worm castings for the plants. The thought of worms might not be appealing to you, but it's definitely optional. There is a reservoir below the unit to conserve water use.

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This grow tower comes in black, brown, stone, and green colors. A family-run business manufactures them entirely in East Tennessee. The company points out the plastic is BPA-free and UV-resistant with a five-year warranty.

The GreenStalk has a patented watering system: Put water in the top water reservoir to water all of the lower tiers. Like the previous model we looked at, the medium will be potting soil, and you can pick organic varieties to ensure fewer chemicals in your food.

Although it doesn't come standard, you can buy a wheeled base and rotate or relocate the grow tower easily. This is great because it weighs about 150 lbs. when fully planted and watered. The manufacturer suggests planting larger plants at the bottom and smaller ones at the top. That way, the larger plants don't shade the plants below them.

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This versatile system varies in cost for a single unit. You can choose black, stone, or terracotta colors, but keep in mind, the plant leaves may cover much of the design eventually. Change up the design by stacking the versatile pots up to 10 pots high.

You can use this model as a hydroponic system. Instead of potting soil, the manufacturer recommends using a mixture of 75 percent coco peat and 25 percent perlite. If you don't want a hydroponic system, you can use regular soil, but they don't recommend this. Some models can accommodate 20 smaller plants in the space of 18.5 inches by 18.5 inches.

As a hydroponic system, you'll need some extras, like the seven-day digital timer for automatic watering available on some models. Another option you'll want is the 250 GPH submersible pump that circulates the water and nutrient solution from a 16-gallon tank. You purchase may come with a nutrient solution to start you off, and grow medium is sometimes available if you register your product with the company website.

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This vertical growing system ranges from cheap to average price tag. Obviously, the best parts are the extremely inexpensive price, but it's also quite versatile too. It's simple to set up and use, mounting to a wall or fence from a rod or hooks.

The felt cloth, 7-Pocket Wall Hanging Planter measures 40 by 11.8 inches but comes in many different sizes. Since it consists of water-absorbent cloth, it's not the best choice for full sun since seedlings can dry out relatively fast.

On the other hand, it's easy to transplant the plants to other spots or containers. You can use it indoors or outdoors, but since moisture goes through the fabric, it can damage walls or floors if you don't use plastic liners. You can do this easily with trash bags. You'll most likely want to do this if you use the pocket hanging garden indoors.

Unless you set up your own drip system, you'll need to water each pocket individually, so there may be more maintenance as a trade-off for that cheap price.

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These hybrid models vary in cost. This is an aesthetically pleasing "introduction to vertical gardening" that stands up to five feet tall. This could be great for those who don't enjoy lots of bending and stretching. Just harvest plants right in front of your eyes. The tower rotates for easy access to sunlight exposure for the plants as well.

The manufacturer says it's easy to move and set-up and is perfect for indoor or outdoor use. The stacking pots allow full, deep root systems. The company suggests the system is ideal for all climates due to this feature. That's because plants with full root structures aren't as likely to dry out fast in hot climates.

With this model, you could grow up to 40 plants in two square feet of space. It's a hybrid because while it uses potting soil, it also has a reservoir at the base that uses hydroponic liquid nutrients you'll need to purchase separately. You don't have to use the hydroponic component, but it also might be fun to try if you want.

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These may appear to be a "grow wall" rather than a "grow tower." You could use the system inside or outdoors and it comes in grey, terracotta, and green. It's straightforward to secure the lightweight pots to the wall using regular screws. On the other hand, the pockets can also clip to the bottom of one another.

The planters with three pockets fit together, covering as much wall space as you desire. The automatic dripping system allows water to drip down from the top row of planters to the lower ones, and a nine-foot hose delivers the water to the top row of containers. The manufacturer states that the hose fits American standard tap fixtures. The system has a three-year guarantee.

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These handmade grow towers vary in cost. They are charmingly handmade and the company states each tower is made from "PVC and love." Each tube has eight vertically placed plant sites on a thin tube that mounts to just about any vertical surface.

One great feature is that these will hang on chain link fence without the need for tools. They are easy to use with potting soil, but the seller can customize them for hydroponic use if you ask. The FenceFarm requires watering every other day unless you create your own drip irrigation system above it.

The Best Grow Tower

Although it has a higher initial investment, the Garden Tower 2 really does check off a lot of boxes for a perfect grow tower. It has great features such as the composting tube in the center tower, wheels for easy mobility, and a large size that can produce a ton of vegetables or other plants.

All of the other models are great for those who want to start a garden without investing as much as the Garden Tower 2. The pocket hanging vertical gardens offer an unbeatable price, which will no doubt be appealing to many just starting out. There are many competitors and the pocket gardens come in many colors and sizes. Wherever you decide to place it, keep in mind that the fabric is going to be wet at times.

A special mention goes out to the handmade FenceFarm because they obviously make them with love and you can easily attach them to any chain-link fence in minutes. We hope this gives you a great start to finding the perfect grow tower for you. May you see many new green possibilities springing up in unexpected places around you.

Featured Image via Unsplash

Green Wall: What is It and How to Build One?

What Is a Green Wall Learn to Build and Maintain One

If you're living in the city and want a garden, but don't have space, you'll appreciate a "green wall." It's an ingenious idea: A vertical garden that takes up no ground space. Green walls are perfect for an urban pea-patch where there's typically no room for a garden bed.

There's a seven-foot-tall hedge that creates a green wall camouflaging my apartment building's trash and recycling area. As a result, the building has much more curb appeal. And, the evergreens help control odor. Our living wall isn't the kind that can be customized with various plants, however, and you certainly wouldn't be able to bring it inside because it has roots. It's more of a living facade.

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The type of green wall or verticle garden we're most excited about is a self-sustaining system. It's framed, with space to hold plants and a mechanism for feeding, watering, and drainage. It may also have a lighting system, depending on where it's set up. Once you know what to look for, you'll notice them everywhere.

What Plants Work the Best?

a very tall green wall

Moss, succulents, vines, and ferns are all stunning choices for a green wall. Similarly, you can train herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, and a variety of vegetables to grow vertically. Of course, there are the usual considerations with plants such as climate, the amount of sunlight they need, and what kind of food and irrigation system will keep them healthiest. We'll explore specific plant scenarios as we look into the various uses for a green wall.

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Functions and Benefits

green wall on a commercial building

Aesthetics are most likely going to be the first consideration for your living wall. Color, texture, size, and fragrance all play a part in the overall feel of this natural addition. For example, herbs used for aromatherapy are an excellent choice for beautifying the environment. Imagine lavender, rosemary, mint, and rose-scented geraniums for something relaxing. Or, try cinnamon geranium, basil, and thyme for a memory stimulating garden.

The possibilities are endless!


There's scientific evidence that our connection to nature is one of the things that contribute to good health. Plants provide food, oxygen, and are often decoration for special occasions like weddings and funerals.

Hospitals have been incorporating living walls into their interior and exterior design for some time. Now, other companies are seeing the benefits for their employees which include better attendance, reduced fatigue, less stress, enhanced performance, increased output, and improved focus. Not really that surprising when you think about our innate connection to nature.

WELL is another green certification that focuses on people rather than the environment, and includes seven core concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. Installing a green wall will earn a company recognition by WELL, and it means that the company cares about your well-being.

Air Quality

Plants regulate humidity and give off oxygen, hence, adding a green wall to your home will improve air quality. It may even help with dust allergies considering a plant's ability to metabolize harmful toxins and remove particles from the environment. You will undoubtedly have to dust less. Besides that, a vertical garden helps to regulate temperature.


Plants soak up noise much the same way that they absorb heat. The dense foliage of a green wall is excellent for this purpose. Outside, green walls are strategically placed to reduce noise from highways and construction, among other things. Inside restaurants, hospitals, and other public spaces, living walls are used to cut down on background chatter and to establish an inviting area in which to relax.

Exteriors of Buildings

Concrete soaks up the heat, but a green wall installed on the outside of a building cools the exterior. Consequently, the surface of a structure with a green wall stays cooler. Another important note here along the line of eco-friendly architecture: Commercial buildings can get a tax credit by installing a green wall. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is an international building certification system developed to encourage eco-friendly construction.


Green walls on the exterior of buildings reduce heat, as we already know; additionally, they act as a carbon sink soaking up carbon and releasing oxygen. This exchange helps reduce our carbon footprint. Furthermore, in the city, an exterior vertical garden will reduce the urban heat island effect, which is a build-up of heat caused by made-made structures. Concrete takes a long time to release heat, meaning cities are often several degrees warmer than the surrounding area. You can see how using a green wall will save energy by naturally cooling the environment.

Environmental Conservation

Indeed, green walls have many benefits to humans. Likewise, outdoor vertical gardens provide a natural habitat for butterflies, pollinators, and songbirds. What a lovely home for city-dwelling creatures!

Edible Green Walls

Edible Green Walls website

Grow Edible Walls is a company that offers all kinds of options for growing a green wall that's more of a vertical farm. They offer pre-planted living walls as well as green wall systems.

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Edible green walls are seasonal, and there are tons of options for the type of food that you can grow. Lettuces and leafy greens, like spinach, sorrel, endive, and cabbage all thrive in this kind of garden. Cucumbers, bell peppers, and blueberries do well too.


The cost to construct a custom green wall can vary dramatically. There are too many variables to give an accurate estimate; however, they are also incredibly versatile, with options at all price levels. You could build one yourself and save some money if you're a gardener who is handy with tools.

What Types of Systems are Available?

green wall on a commercial building

Green wall systems have a plastic or metal frame and a backing to hold everything in place. Each manufacturer has their own variation on this theme; however, plants are typically rooted in place first.


vertical hydroponic system

Image from Pixabay

Hydroponics are popular due to the high-quality plants that this process produces, in addition to taking up less space. Also, using water negates the need for soil in hydroponic configurations. The downside of this set-up is the learning curve; therefore, many companies will install the systems and after that continue its maintenance. As you can imagine, this can become quite expensive.

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The old standard for gardens is still in use in some green wall systems because soil requires less maintenance and ensures that plants won't die because of mechanical malfunction.


Loose media systems often incorporate hydro and volcanic stone into the mix. These set-ups use oil, stone, and water to fill containers where the plants will take root.

Indoor Green Wall

Indoor Green Wall

​GrowUp offers a system that is modular and scalable, starting with their smallest set-up that holds 20 plants. This set-up is good for homeowners because it doesn't utilize any complicated hydroponics.


GrowUp's living wall kit comes with a water tank and submersible pump. The system includes an irrigation line, float sensor, pots for planting, a choice of plants, and a grow light. It's backed with weatherproof sheeting and has vertical rails where you attached the pots. This set-up starts with as few as 20 plants, so it's perfect for homeowners.

The company offers a variety of foliage for its wall including a Bird's Nest Fern, a heart-shaped philodendron sometimes referred to as a Creeping Charlie, and an assortment of colorful and textural plants to enhance your home.


There are several potential configurations for the frame. One way to install the set-up is by connecting the vertical rails to the wall and attaching the waterproof sheet. Conversely, horizontal boards may be mounted onto the wall first, then attaching the railing to the boards. Or, the whole thing can be mounted on a free-standing frame.

You'll find details in the "How it Works" document on GrowUp's website.


We like this one for personal use because it is easy to maintain once installed. When it's time to clean, you empty the tanks with a wet vacuum cleaner, wipe everything out to make sure it's clean, then refill the tanks. Pretty simple. You can find the complete installation and maintenance guide here.


outdoor green wall

Ambius is a landscaping company that specializes in outdoor installations of living walls. They offer a variety of systems, including a panel system similar to what we've already seen, as well as other outdoor options that utilize hydroponics and require maintenance from skilled professionals.

The Sage vertical garden system is perfect for an outdoor green wall and is used indoors as well.


There are six components to the Sage system: framing, backboard, drainage mat, battens, drip irrigation, and tiles that hold their patented growth medium and also act as drainage strips. These walls are known for their longevity.


This system will require professional installation, although Ambius does offer several smaller and free-standing options that would be easier to install and maintain on your own.


Ambius offers maintenance, and if you're installing one of the more complex systems, it's probably worth the extra money. However, there is usually a timer that lets you know when the tank needs refilling; some systems require several irrigation zones. If you're using perennials, plants will need to be trimmed and pruned. On the other hand, if you are planting annuals and edibles, this will be an ongoing requirement.


​Freestanding green wall

Another option in green wall design is a freestanding wall. LiveWall has a nice unit, called LiveScreen, which are shipped pre-assembled. There are five model options for indoor and outdoor, and all are set on casters so you can move them around easily.

The indoor model is a hand-watering system that has a basin and drains from the back. They work splendidly as organic dividers in the office or at a restaurant.

DIY (Do It Yourself)

green wall

Start small and experiment. There are oodles of possibilities! Why not have some fun with it and determine what kind of green wall you want to make? Buy Living Walls offers frame kits that are mini green walls you can plant on your own.

The chalkboard style frame kit from Bright Green is a fun idea, leaving you room to write out the names of the plants in your garden. The chalkboard-green wall features six pods for planting, an irrigation bracket, and moisture mat. It's all enclosed in a pretty wooden frame that measures a height of 24 inches, a width of 14.5 inches, and a depth from front to back of five inches. The company suggests using this frame to plant succulents, herbs, tropical plants, and sedum.

Final Thoughts

If you want to construct a green wall in or around your home, you have a lot of options from DIY to readymade systems. You can build and maintain the garden yourself, or have it installed. A vertical garden has many benefits for individuals as well as the community. Chiefly, we know it's good for the environment and healthy. A green wall is also a way for us to come together as a community, to feed the hungry, and reduce our carbon footprint. Why not do something good for everyone and give back with a green wall?

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