How to Choose a Suitable Seedling Tray for Your Plants

How to Choose a Suitable Seedling Tray for Your Plants

Starting a garden from seeds can be a rewarding experience, but it requires the right tools to ensure success. One of the most essential tools for this task is the seedling tray for plants. Selecting the right tray can make a significant difference in the growth and health of your seedlings. In this guide, we'll discuss how to choose the best seed trays for plants and what to consider when making your selection.

Understanding Seedling Trays

Seedling trays for plants are specially designed containers used to start seeds and grow young plants until they are ready to be transplanted into the garden or larger pots. These trays come in various sizes, shapes, and materials, each suited for different types of plants and growing conditions.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Seedling Trays

  1. Tray Size and Cell Count

One of the first considerations when choosing a seedling tray for plants is the size and the number of cells. The size of the cells will determine how much space each seedling has to grow. Here’s what to consider:

- Small Cells: Suitable for starting small seeds like lettuce, herbs, and flowers. These cells allow you to start many seeds in a small space.

- Medium Cells: Ideal for vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. These provide enough space for seedlings to develop a strong root system.

- Large Cells: Best for larger seeds or plants that need more room to grow before transplanting, such as pumpkins and squash.


  1. Tray Material

The material of the seedling tray for plants affects durability, drainage, and the ease of handling. Common materials include:

- Plastic: Lightweight, durable, and reusable. Plastic trays are easy to clean and can be used multiple seasons.

- Biodegradable: Made from materials like peat, coir, or paper. These trays can be planted directly into the ground, reducing transplant shock.

- Foam: Lightweight and insulating, but not as environmentally friendly as other options.


  1. Drainage


Good drainage is crucial for preventing waterlogging and promoting healthy root development. Ensure the seedling tray for plants has adequate drainage holes. Some trays come with built-in drainage, while others may require you to punch out holes.

  1. Ease of Use

Consider how easy the trays are to handle. Look for features like:

- Sturdy Construction: Trays should be strong enough to support the weight of soil and water without bending or breaking.

- Stackability: Trays that stack easily can save space when not in use and make it simpler to manage multiple trays.

- Ease of Transplanting: Some trays have flexible cells or removable bottoms, making it easier to remove seedlings without damaging their roots.

 Different Types of Seedling Trays

  1. Standard Seedling Trays

These are the most common and versatile trays, available in various cell sizes. They are usually made of plastic and come with or without a dome lid. The lid helps maintain humidity, which is beneficial for germination.

  1. Plug Trays

Plug trays have smaller, individual cells that are ideal for starting a large number of seeds in a small space. They are commonly used in commercial nurseries but are also great for home gardeners who want to start many seedlings at once.

  1. Biodegradable Trays

Made from natural materials, biodegradable trays can be planted directly into the garden. They are ideal for reducing transplant shock and are environmentally friendly. However, they may not be as durable as plastic trays and can sometimes break down prematurely if kept too wet.

  1. Self-Watering Trays

These trays have a water reservoir beneath the seed cells, allowing seedlings to draw water as needed. They are great for maintaining consistent moisture levels and reducing the need for frequent watering.

 What to Use Instead of Seed Trays

If you don’t have access to traditional seed trays for plants, there are several alternative options you can use:

  1. Egg Cartons

Egg cartons are a readily available and eco-friendly option. They can hold small amounts of soil and are perfect for starting seeds. Simply cut the carton into individual cells and plant the entire section when ready.

  1. Yogurt Cups


Recycling yogurt cups is another effective way to create seedling containers. Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage and fill them with soil. These are especially good for larger seeds or plants.

  1. Toilet Paper Rolls

Toilet paper rolls can be cut into smaller sections and used as biodegradable seed starters. Place them upright in a shallow tray, fill with soil, and plant your seeds. They can be planted directly into the soil, minimizing root disturbance.

Nursery Techniques for Seedlings

Proper nursery techniques can make a significant difference in the success of your seedlings. Here are some tips:

  1. Soil Preparation

Use a high-quality seed starting mix that is light and well-draining. Avoid using garden soil, which can be too dense and may contain pathogens.

  1. Watering

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to fungal diseases and root rot. Self-watering trays can help maintain the right moisture levels.

  1. Light

Seedlings need plenty of light to grow strong and healthy. Place your trays in a sunny location or use grow lights to ensure they receive 12-16 hours of light per day.

  1. Temperature

Most seeds germinate best at temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Using a seedling heat mat can help maintain the right temperature for optimal germination.


Choosing the right seedling tray for plants is crucial for successful seed starting and healthy plant growth. By considering factors such as tray size, material, drainage, and ease of use, you can select the best tray for your needs. Additionally, there are various types of trays and alternative options to suit different gardening styles and budgets. For more information and assistance with selecting the right seedling trays, visit or our physical location at Office No 13 A, Building-A, 2nd Floor, City Vista, Kharadi, Pune - 411014, Maharashtra (India). 07620144503.


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