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7 Best Seed Starting Mixes for your Garden

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best seed starting mix

Seed starting can be equally troublesome for everyone, be it an amateur or an avid gardener. More often than not, it is the wrong choice of soil starting mix that hinders the proper germination of seedlings. If you too are struggling with seed starting, then this product review guide will help you in finding the best seed starting mix. 

At a Glance: Our Top 7 Picks for Seed Starting Mixes

A variety of seed starting mixes are available in the market, depending on the key ingredients, texture, consistency, water retention capacity, pH level, etc. However, investing in a seed starting mix is crucial for seed germination, and further, their growth into mature plants. 

From nurturing the seeds through critical germination stages to ensuring excellent plant growth, working hard to choose the best seed starting mix will never go in vain.

Although your choice completely depends on the type of seeds, your budget, and your personal preferences, it is always better to be sure of the quality.

Read on for a more detailed and intensive review of each of the above seed starting mixes:

Top 7 Best Seed Starting Mix Reviews

1. Black Gold 1311002 Seedling Mix – Our Best Pick

Black Gold 1311002 Seedling Mix
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Quick Summary 

  • Ideal combination of suitable ingredients
  • Perfectly milled consistency
  • OMRI listed
  • Available in 4, 6, 10, and 16-quart packs

Black Gold Seedling Mix is best for sprouting vegetable seeds, flower seeds, or even herbal transplants. Owing to its superior components, it is Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) listed. Additionally, it is highly refined and fine-textured. 

Its main constituents are Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, RESiLIENCE (a trading name for beneficial silicon compound), Perlite, and organic wetting agent. Plants grown in this mix are seen to show early flowering, better root growth, and increased resistance against bacterial diseases and damping off. This seed starting mix also shows great water retention.

However, you should keep in mind that this mix does not contain any fertilizer content to foster the seedling. Therefore, you might need to add additional fertilizer after the seed germinates. 

Overall, it would be a smart purchase for any gardening enthusiast – be it someone just starting with gardening or a professional propagator.

What We Liked

  • Excellent germination rate
  • Grows thicker and taller seedlings
  • Fine consistency and texture
  • Short germination period
  • Ideal water retention capacity

What We Didn’t Like

  • Needs supplementary fertilizer
  • Relatively expensive

2. Burpee Organic Coconut Coir Concentrated Seed Starting Mix 

Burpee Organic Coconut Coir Concentrated Seed Starting Mix
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Quick Summary 

  • Seed Starting mix pressed into a brick
  • Made primarily from Coconut husk
  • Easy to work with

Burpee Organic Coconut Coir Concentrated Seed Starting Mix is fundamentally a block of coconut husk compressed into a brick. Unlike other seed starting mixes available in the market, water has to be added to it, for it to turn into 8 quarts of wet seed starting mix. It is easy to use and upon hydration, turns into a very fine-textured mix. 

One of its best features is that it is made from 100% organic content. Hence, being biodegradable and environment friendly, it is OMRI listed. Its main constituent is coconut coir, which is a significantly sustainable material as compared to Peat. Moreover, it would decompose completely, leaving behind no residue upon decomposition. 

It immensely aids seed germination by ensuring proper aeration, and the roots develop ideally too. Mainly because it holds a decent amount of water. Further, it has a neutral pH level. However, it does not integrate any nutritional or fertilizer content. So, you would have to add diluted liquid fertilizer once the seeds germinate and grow into seedlings.

What We Liked

  • 100% organic content
  • Promotes root growth
  • Very lightweight and fluffy, aiding aeration
  • Compact, but grows immensely on adding water
  • Cheaper 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some users reported mold/insect infestation 
  • Needs supplementary fertilizer

3. Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix

Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix
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Quick Summary

  • Rich with nutritional content
  • Great water retention capacity
  • Lightweight and fluffy
  • Available in 8-quart packs

This seed starting mix is a great option for beginners, as it is easy to use and its yields are pretty satisfactory. It is a premium mix, containing sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and other such ingredients that contribute to the proper germination of the seeds.

The mix has been specially formulated to facilitate the fast development of roots. Further, it contains necessary fertilizer content to assist plant growth. Even better, it has a fairly high germination rate and the seedlings grow tall and strong. Keep in mind, the mix has a decent water retention capacity and has been designed to be used in containers. 

An issue seen with Miracle-Gro is that it may have large twigs or debris which will have to be picked by hand before planting the seeds.

What We Liked

  • Excellent germination results
  • Stimulates fast germination
  • Incorporates fertilizer
  • Ideal water retention capacity

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some twigs need to be hand-picked 
  • It may not be suitable for some seeds

4. Jiffy Natural & Organic Starter Mix

Jiffy Natural & Organic Starter Mix
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Quick Summary 

  • 100% organic
  • Contains vital ingredients
  • Greenhouse quality mix
  • Available in 10-quart packs

Jiffy Natural & Organic Starter Mix is a pretty good choice in terms of water retention, basic ingredients, seedling quality, and texture. It does well on almost all the parameters.

It is specially formulated with three basic ingredients – Vermiculite, Peat Moss, and Lime. Peat Moss aids in water retention and aeration, Vermiculite prevents soil compaction and can hold a large amount of water, and Lime adjusts the pH level of the medium. Remember, jiffy’s seed starting mix results in healthy seedlings with firm roots.

However, it should be kept in mind that this mix needs to be mixed with water before planting the seeds. Otherwise it may seem to repel water. And most importantly, fertilizer content should be added explicitly, after the seedling grows.

What We Liked

  • 100% organic ingredients
  • Fine texture and consistency
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Great seedling growth

What We Didn’t Like

  • Needs to be mixed with water beforehand
  • Does not incorporate fertilizer

5. Espoma SS16 Organic Seed Starter Premium Potting Mix

Espoma SS16 Organic Seed Starter Premium Potting Mix
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Quick Summary 

  • Results in strong seedlings
  • Fast and high germination rates
  • Organic, with no chemicals
  • Available in 8-quart packs

Espoma Organic Seed Starter Potting Mix is a mix that can be used for almost all sorts of seeds. 

It is made up of 80-90% sphagnum peat moss, perlite, limestone, and yucca extract. It also contains Myco-tone, a blend of active fungi ingredients, which is known to promote root growth, increase water retention, and reduce transplant shock. Likewise, the mix contains appropriate fertilizer and nutritional content to support the seedlings.

A possible issue with this product would be that it is seemingly too coarse for smaller seeds. Users have reviewed it as “having a decent germination rate but difficult to use due to the debris it contains”. Thus it is advised to spend some time sorting the mix out before getting to directly use it.

What We Liked

  • Seedlings show long term performance
  • Vigorous growth
  • Incorporates fertilizer
  • Ideal for bottom watering

What We Didn’t Like

  • Coarse texture, not suitable for tiny seeds
  • Relatively expensive

6. Purple Cow Organics Seed Starter Mix

Purple Cow Organics Seed Starter Mix
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Quick Summary 

  • OMRI listed
  • Rapid seed germination
  • Available in 12-quart bags, Cubic Footbags, and 2 Cubic Yard super sacks

With its superior quality content, Purple Cow Organics Seed Starter Mix has many benefits, including increased germination rates, firm seedlings, and not to forget its cost-saving pricing. It is a natural and organic blend with a fine texture. In fact, it can be used to grow plants in trays, blocks, or small containers.

The mix includes the special Purple Cow Compost, Sphagnum Peat Moss, Perlite, Vermiculite, rock and sea minerals, and vital fertilizer content. This extraordinary combination balances water retention and water drainage, aids root development, and also reduces water loss. 

Although this is a decent option, it is important to know that weed growth may be seen in the pots due to the fertilizer content in the mix. 

What We Liked

  • Organic content
  • Good seedling quality
  • Lightweight and fluffy
  • Quality seedlings 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Little pricey
  • Some users reported weed growth

7. Hoffman 30103 Seed Starter Soil

Hoffman 30103 Seed Starter Soil
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Quick Summary 

  • Fairly high germination
  • Finely milled
  • Also useful in transplanting
  • Available in 10-quart bags

This seed starting mix would make a great purchase as it can be used to grow microgreens and many varieties of seeds. It moistens very quickly and has a very high germination rate too. What impresses us the most is that the plants grown in this mix mature surprisingly well. Moreover, the fine texture of the mix makes it easy for the seeds to sprout.

The basic ingredients include Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, Vermiculite, limestone, and a wetting agent. This soilless blend creates an appropriate physical environment for the seeds and nurtures them.

This product is pretty decent, although it may prove to burn a slight hole in the pocket for some. 

What We Liked

  • Perfect proportions of the ingredients
  • Great seed germination
  • Lightweight and fine texture
  • Retains water properly

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some users experienced fungus gnats and molds
  • It may not be suitable for all types of seeds

What Makes the Best Seed Starting Mix: Things to Look For

Now that you are aware of all the best options available, you need to be confident that your chosen seed starting mix lives up to certain standards before entrusting it with your seeds. 

Hence, to help you find the best seed starting mix, the following is a list of specifications to watch out for:

  • Ingredients

Ingredients should be the first and foremost aspect to be paid attention to while purchasing a seed starting mix. You should always check to ensure it contains more than a few essential ingredients, some of which have been listed below:

  1. Vermiculite: This is a specifically treated form of mica, which is light, absorptive, and spongy. Its chief function is to ensure water retention. It is originally neutral, with a pH of 7, but can raise the pH levels of the soil mixture slightly. 

    Horticultural vermiculite is also known to absorb nutrients and other soil components, which it releases gradually to the plants.
  1. Perlite: Unlike Vermiculite, Perlite is used for water drainage purposes. It aids aeration and promotes better oxygen access to the roots. It also helps to remove surface crusting and excess water content.
  1. Sphagnum Peat Moss: This provides a sterile and absorbent medium, ideal for seed starting. Sphagnum moss retains water and stimulates superior root development. It has also been acknowledged for its antibiotic properties which inhibit bacterial diseases in seedlings.
  1. Coconut Coir: It is widely used as an environmentally safe alternative to Sphagnum Peat Moss. It promotes water retention and provides the perfect conditions for a seed to germinate. 
  1. Agents to adjust pH: Often, additional ingredients like Limestone are added in a seed starting mix to maintain an optimal pH level of around 5.5 to 6.5. 
  1. Fertilizers: Even though a seed itself contains all the nutrition it needs to germinate, it is suitable to choose a seed starting mix that has a certain amount of nutrient content and soil components.
  • Sterility

This specification ascertains that the starting mix is free of any potentially harmful bacteria, soil-borne diseases, fungi, etc. – that may hamper the healthy germination of the seeds. It also ensures that there are no competing weed seeds in the soil mix. Needless to say, it is highly advisable to buy a sterilized seed starting mix.

Usually, when you buy a seed starting mix, it comes with a “sterilized” label. Therefore, while choosing the seed starting mix, make sure to pick a mix that has been sterilized earlier. Also, it seems reasonable to select one that is Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) listed. 

  • Appropriate Water retention

Another critical feature to consider is water retention. The seed starting mix that you end up choosing should be able to absorb and hold enough amount of moisture to facilitate the sprouting of the seed. However, at the same time, it should be able to drain quickly, leaving space for vital air circulation between the moist seeds.

It is also suggested to check if the seed starting mix constitutes certain ingredients (listed above) that are known to aid water retention. 

  • Organic and sustainable

Choosing an organic soil mix for starting seeds is crucial, not just because it is environmentally friendly, but also because it leads to organic farming in the truest sense. Using such organic products would contribute to considerably less ecological waste and the nutrients would be returned to the soil itself upon their decomposition.

  • Texture

The selected seed starting mix should be lightweight, uniform, and finely milled. There should be no coarse chunks, chips, or long strings of coir. This would allow the young roots to bind with the soil particles easily and decently germinate.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, you need to be up-to-date with various seed starting mixes, from the brands to their specifications, ingredient combinations, etc. to be able to make the right decision. Using this product reviewal guide, you can streamline your search to find the seed starting mix best suited to your needs by analyzing and comparing the best options. 

Our favourite pick as the best seed starting mix is Black Gold 1311002 Seedling Mix. Its unique blend, fine texture, organic content, and antibacterial properties make it the best fit for seed starting. 

Nevertheless, you can choose the best option depending on your budget and personal gardening requirements. Whichever option you choose, make sure to apply the information provided above to make a smart purchase. 

We hope you find joy in planting seeds and watching them grow. Happy planting!

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