Alicia DeVore

Growing seeds for each season has become a necessity to save money and control the variety of plants I am growing. I love the variety of seeds available that can’t be bought at a local nursery or big box store.

I can pick seeds that are different, provide an incomparable taste to the grocery store, and have the qualities that are unique to my growing environment. One package of seeds can grow 20-30 plants for the price of one plant I could buy at the local plant nursery.

I had set up my seed starting station out in my garage. I used an old shelving unit and placed lighting on each level and all the necessary equipment for seed starting.

But one summer, the seedlings I had planted for the fall garden all started getting eaten and destroyed in their little growing space out in my garage where I originally started growing seedlings. The culprit was unknown, all I did know was that those seeds would sprout and within a day the sprout had been eaten. It was horrible. I had no way of growing seeds.

I realized that the seedlings needed an environment where everything was controlled. I cleaned out a closet, moved things out to the garage from the closet and started growing seeds indoors. I have put together a step by step growing guide to vegetable seed starting in a closet. Read to see how you can start seeds in a closet too.

seedlings in a tray on wood table
seedlings in trays

Why Grow Seeds Indoors?

If you plant those same seeds outside many times the temperature is not conducive for the seeds to grow in the right season. The soil temperature needs to be warm enough for the seed to even want to sprout.

The soil moisture needs to be light with water, but not too damp to create an atmosphere for the seed to break through the skin of the seed. Check out this article on starting seeds to help you get a better understanding of how to grow seeds indoors successfully.

What is a Closet Grow?

A closet grow is a closet space where you set up a station of lights and mats to grow seeds. If you plant those same seeds outside many times the temperature is not conducive for the seeds to grow in the right season.

Is it Possible to Grow Seeds in a Closet Space?

With the ventilation from a small fan or set of fans, you can regulate the temperature and air quality for seeds to grow. It is not only possible, but it also makes gardening easier because you have a space to start your garden before those seedlings are ready to go outside.

Using a grow room closet makes it possible to grow because a small space is enough space.

seedlings in a tray
seedlings growing

How can I Transform my Closet into a Growing Room?

Do you have a spare closet that you can clean out a few shelves and make into a useful closet grow? You don’t need a big closet to grow seedlings.

You could be an indoor grower by using a limited space to grow your garden.

Cleaning out to use this prime real estate for growing your garden is an easy solution to saving money in the garden in the long run.

a hall closet works great for seed starting
a hall closet ready to become a seed starting closet

Lighting Setup

Plants require light for food production and photosynthesis. If you have the right lighting, your seeds will grow.

A closet grow is confined to the house; therefore, the growing light should have the minimum energy to release. Other types of grow lights generate excessive high temperatures, causing several hazards.

Using an LED grow light spectrum is effective and will be easy to set up in a closet to grow plants.

LED Lights for Seed Starting
LED lights are great in a grow closet

Choice of Light

You want your closet grow or small space to not get too hot with the choice of lighting. For growing seedlings, I rely on LED grow lights. LED grow lights. The LEDs allow the control of the intensity or frequency of the plants’ growth cycle.

LED Grow Lights are well suited for growing seedlings because they provide the necessary spectrum of light and intensity to promote optimal growth.

They also produce less heat than other types of grow lights, making them ideal for a closet grow situation where temperature can be more easily controlled. They also use less energy than other types of lighting, meaning you can save on electricity costs.

How Much Light?

When growing seeds, you need warm soil and moisture to start the growing process. But after the seed sprouts, it desperately needs light.

Using a timer attached to the light makes growing seedlings easy. Seedlings need 16 hours a day of light. Set the timer for 16 hours and then you don’t have to worry about the amount of light.

Plant Height

Adjust the light by keeping the light as close the plants. This vertical space can be used with one shelf or multiple shelves depending on how many seedlings you want to start indoors.

Airflow

Good circulation is essential in any growing area, especially when there’s a small size where all of that air is consumed very quickly, and the plants are growing very slowly. Depending on the type and quantity of the air flow it can vary.

When there is not enough air circulating than mold can become an issue. To prevent mold from growing on the tops of your seedlings, do not overwater and make sure to keep your plants in a space where the air is circulating.

You also don’t want the hot air to take over the grow space.

And if you need more heat inside the closet, the seedling heating mats will take care of your seedlings even in the coldest of closets.

Seedling Heating Mat

A mat is necessary for a closet grow. It will provide the correct temperature for seeds to germinate and sprout in your indoor space.

Mats are usually placed underneath a tray indoors to keep moist and warm environment which encourages seedlings to grow faster.

Mats come in varying sizes and wattages, depending on the size of your closet. To determine the correct wattage for your closet, grow system you need to measure the closet’s width and length in square feet.

That will give you an indication of how many watts you would need for a mat.

seedling heat mat with microgreens growing
seedling heat mat and LED light for growing microgreens

Seedling Trays

There are many types of seedling trays available on the market. Choose trays that have larger holes on the bottom so when you add water to the large tray at the bottom, the soil and roots bring the water up the plant.

By watering in this bottom-up fashion, you have less mold and disease on the top of your seedlings. This type of bottom watering also utilizes how the roots feed the plant.

Pick seedling trays that make it easy for your seedlings to drink water from the bottom of the large base tray.

As your plants get larger, you will need to transplant the seedlings to larger 3–4-inch pots each. This will happen 3-5 weeks after initially planting your seeds, so you have time before needing to transplant.

Large Trays

Large trays are used to go under the containers you have the seedlings in. By placing these large trays, you prevent water from getting all over your closet.

These trays also make it easy to clean the area and transport your seedlings when they are ready for outdoor sun and are transitioning to the outdoor garden.

Pick trays that are sturdy and not flimsy or easily broken. You want to work with equipment that won’t create messes inside the house in the closet.

Hooks to Connect the Lights

Grow lights come in many shapes and sizes. When using lights that need to be attached to the shelf above your growing station, then add hooks and simple chains to control how close to the seedlings the light gets.

Other types of lights like this one below can stand on its own with an arm that bends.

These can be great to use on a countertop, but inside a closet with shelves, it can get too cramped, and your seedlings may suffer if they are not getting full light for growth.

What Kind of Soil to Use?

The primary purpose of seed starting soil is to give seeds the nutrients they need in the first few weeks of sprouting and a lightness to the soil that makes the roots of your seedlings find room to grow.

If the soil is too heavy or filled with pathogens, then growing seeds becomes very difficult.

How do you Set Up a Grow Room in a Closet?

Here’s how to step up your grow closet.

Steps to Set Up:

  1. Find a space in the home that can be closed with a door.

  2. Add a shelf or two to the closet if you want the growing space closer to the ground for easier access.

  3. Set up ventilation system with an oscillating fan.

  4. Set up grow lights above each shelf with hooks so that it can be adjusted.

  5. Buy large trays like THESE to set your starts in and protect the shelves from getting wet.

  6. Add seedling mats.

  7. Connect electrical up to one charging station and add the timer.

person adding seeds to soil in trays for seed starting

Guide to Growing Seeds:

  1. Cover your seeds with a dome and spray with water lightly on top of the soil daily. Keep soil moist in order for the seeds to sprout.

  2. At this point make sure the mat is on, but no need for light. Keep the closed area ventilated with the fan in the closet grow.

  3. After the seeds have sprouted, continue watering from the bottom if possible and add 16 hours of light with the dome or cover.

  4. Lighting must be on for 16 hours a day after sprouting in the closet grow.

seedlings growing healthy

Equipment List:

Heating Mat

Using a heating mat for seed starting is essential in order to create the optimal germination conditions that are necessary for successful growth.

A heating mat provides gentle and even heat that helps warm the soil and encourages seed sprout and root development.

The added warmth from the heating pad allows seeds to break dormancy more quickly, leading to faster germination and an earlier harvest time.

Led Lights

Grow lights provide light to the seedlings which is essential for them to grow and produce high yields.

Large Tray

A large tray helps with transporting the seedlings. It also is a great place to catch the water you are feeding your seedlings keeping everything cleaner it the closet.

Circulating Fan(s)

When choosing a fan for seed starting in a closet, it is important to find one that is designed specifically for the purpose.

Using an ordinary household fan may be tempting, but its strong air flow can be detrimental to the delicate seedlings or cause too much turbulence inside the closet. It is best to find an oscillating fan that is designed to provide gentle air flow and circulation.

Timer

An essential part of the set-up process, a timer will help regulate both light and heat for your plants.

With a timer, you can easily control when the lights turn on and off throughout the day so that your seedlings get proper light exposure without burning or over exposure.

Seed Starting Containers

The first step in selecting the right seed starting containers is to make sure that they have bottom holes for easy drainage.

This will ensure that your soil does not become waterlogged, which can lead to root rot or other plant diseases.

Having bottom drainage holes lets you easily water from the bottom, which encourages deep root growth and discourages root circling.

Seedling Soil Mix

When it comes to seed starting mix, the most important factor is ensuring that the mix is light, well-aerated and nutrient rich.

A lightweight soil mix will provide your seeds with the optimal environment they need to thrive while allowing them to take in air, water and nutrients as needed.

The best type of soil mixes for starting seeds in a closet will have ingredients like vermiculite and peat moss, as well as some compost or other organic material.

organic seed starting mix

Organic REV Root Builder

Not everyone uses a root builder for their seedlings, but I have found it be beneficial in growing stronger plants.

Organic REV Root Builder is a powerful tool for helping your seedlings reach their full potential. It is designed to promote strong and healthy root growth by providing essential nourishment that can help plants flourish.

Spray Bottle Until Seeds Sprout

Using a spray bottle to water your seedlings at the start of their life cycle is an important step in ensuring healthy, vibrant growth.

This method of watering allows you to gently mist the soil and provide a light layer of moisture that helps seeds germinate and sprout quickly.

Spraying your seedling tray with a fine mist helps protect the delicate roots and leaves from being damaged by strong water pressures, allowing your seedlings to thrive.

Seeds from trusted sources:

Seeds Now

Mary’s Heirloom Seeds

starting seeds

What Closets Can You Transform?

The trickiest part is finding a closet or two to grow in. The rest of it can be easy as you set up the space to grow seedlings.

Growing seeds in a closet is an effective way to get the most out of your space and resources. With the right setup, you can ensure that your seedlings have everything they need for successful germination, root development and growth.

With a little determination and planning, anyone can turn any small area into a vibrant growing environment with ease. For more information on growing from seeds, check out this blog post. Or if you are ready to plant your new seedlings outside, then check out this article on how to transplant into your garden.

FAQ

Can I turn my closet into a grow room closet?

With a led light, heating mat, and a ventilation system with a fan or two, you can be growing indoors when you don’t have much space. Create a set up that will help the process of growing indoors.

How do you hang led lights in a closet?

Hanging LED lights in a closet is a simple process that can be completed with only a few tools. All you need are light strips, mounting brackets, screws and anchors, and a power supply.

Decide where you want to install the LEDs and mark the area for cutting. Measure the space for your light strips, cut the strip to size, and attach the mounting brackets.

Finally, secure the LED light strips with screws or anchors and connect them to a power supply. Make sure to follow all safety instructions when installing your LED lights.

Do grow rooms need to be airtight?

No, having air circulation is a great idea for your seedlings. That is why setting up proper ventilation is one of the important factors to growing seedlings.

What average temperature does a grow closet need to be?

The average temperature for a grow closet is between 65-75°F (18-24°C). To keep the environment inside your closet conducive to seedling growth, it is important to maintain this temperature range.

What kinds of seeds can you grow in closets?

The best part of using a space to grow is that you could grow for each season all year round starting in a grow closet.

Your seedlings will have a safe space that provides them with light, heat, moisture, and nutrients so when you are ready to transplant them to the outdoor garden, you have a garden full of vibrant, beautiful plants.

Start fall, spring, and summer plants inside a closet grow or grow room. I start tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs, kale, chard, and other greens all indoors then transfer when the temperature matches what I’m growing. 

You can also grow herbs and then make this amazing herb salt to impress your family and friends. Check out how to make it HERE.

What are things I don’t need for a grow closet?

You won’t need a drainage system, a grow tent, carbon filters, or an exhaust fan.

For More Information about growing, check out this blog post on starting a new garden successfully.

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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