Seeds vs. Live Plants

Seeds vs Live Plants, the great debate! Well, for some gardeners. You have some gardeners who are seeds all the way and others who claim seed starting is a waste of time. As you grow as a gardener, you will develop your preferences for doing things. It all depends on what your goals are. So, let's explore the world of Seeds and Live Plants. 

Seeds vs Plants 

Here are some things to consider as you read the pros and cons of seeds vs. live plants: 

  1. How much time do you have to devote to gardening? 
  2. How much are you willing to invest in gardening?
  3. How quickly do you want to see results? 
  4. What are your long-term goals? 


Plants vs Seeds

Both have different pros and cons.

Using Seeds: 

All of your annual vegetables will come from seeds. You can buy these seeds in almost any big box store's garden section, home improvement store, and farm/gardening store. There will usually be several seed displays/stands in the middle of the isle. 

They usually start bring seeds out in March and will have them on into the Fall growing session. I even grabbed some up last Dec. 

You can order them online from many different seed companies too. You can type in the their website search bar and find most of the plant varieties you are looking for. 
Whether you buy from a store or seed company you will see a lot of different types of seeds: Non-GMO, organic, and heirloom.
Seeds and how to start them deserve a whole blog to it's self, but for this blog we are going to keep it simple and do an over all review. Be looking for that Seed & Seed Starting blog soon! 

Positive of Seeds: 

  • Seeds are cheaper depending on what type and brand you purchase—leading to the next tip.
  • Seed Packets
  • You control what kind of seed and plant it will grow into, such as non-GMO, Organic, or Heirloom. 
  • You control what kind of soil your seedlings are planted in.
  • Seedling Trays
  • You also control what type of water your seedlings get. For example, I use rainwater. 
  • Rainwater Barrel
  • Once you invest in seed-growing materials and tools, they can last for years as long as you take care of them. 
  • You can store seeds and have them on hand when you need them. 
  • You can track when the seeds were started and have a better idea of harvest times, which will help if you are planting for mutable seasons or succession planting. 

Download our 2023 planting calendar to help you keep up with your planting! Grab it HERE 


Negatives of Seeds: 

  • Seeds can range from three days to ten days to germinate. 
  • They are cheaper than seedlings, but what about the hidden cost?

Hidden Cost: 

If you plan on starting from seed, here is what you will need: 

  • seeds 
  • seedling mixture (premixed or compost, peat moss, and garden soil), 
  • trays to sprout and grow your plants in
  • Seed trays
  •  grow lights or a big window that gets 6+hours of sunlight
  • Growlights
  • Eventually, a greenhouse-type place to hold all the trays as seedlings get older. 
  • Small green house for seedling storage
  • A place outside to keep seedlings so they can harden off before planting into the ground or raised bed outdoors. 


So that one thing, seeds, just became 6-7 things you'll have to purchase.

Yes, there are several seeds you can place straight into the ground, but you will have to wait till it is the right temperature and conditions, which will limit your growing season. So keep this in mind. 


Tips & Things To Think About: 

  1. If you don't like eating it, don't grow it! It may seem odd that I have to address this, but the truth is that many first-time gardeners and even seasoned gardeners (I confess I've done this.) tend to grow veggies before they see if they like them or even know how to cook them. Think back to the Annuals vs. Perennials blog, we dicused the same thing. 
  2. What should I grow?
  3. You can also start some seedlings inside your home on a windowsill if you need more time for a greenhouse or grow lights. 
  4. Sweet peas, beans, carrots, corn, radishes, turnips, and lettuce do well with direct sowing.
  5. I do not suggest you buy carrots, lettuce, and celery as live plants. Why? You are purchasing the same thing you could find in the produce aisle; the only difference is that they are still in the dirt. Planting their seeds in the soil makes them easier to grow and more productive. 
    With that, let's get to live plants! 


Live plants: 

If you are starting a garden, you may need more time to prepare for starting seeds. So, It's okay to do your whole garden in plant starts. 

Now, let's go over the positives and negatives of starting with seedlings and already-established plants. 

Positive of Plants: 

  • It would help to buy already established fruit trees and bushes at your local nursery. If you attempt to plant them from seed, you will wait years before seeing the fruit of your labor. Ha, I hope you got that! 
    Buy plants and seedlings to save time! If you want to hit the ground running, go with plant starts. 
  • You can still buy organic & heirloom plants. If you are concerned with what type of seed, soil, or fertilizer your plant will be grown with, then you should avoid the big box store. Get connected with a local small grower/farmer/garden center. You can then talk to the grower one on one. 
  • Here are some plants you will have to purchase or trade with another gardener because they need to be started with roots or tubers: Sweet potatoes, asparagus, Jerusalem Artichoke, turmeric, and ginger. 
  • Live plants can be a backup. Herbs are one of those plant families I'm a hit or miss when planting from seed. So, usually, I'll seed some and buy some as plants. 


Negative to Plants: 

  • You don't control the seed, soil, or process in which the plants are grown. 
  • Some seedlings are stressed when shipping from the greenhouse grower to the store. This stress can cause your plants to be stunted in growth and production. 
  • There is the possibility of store-bought plants carrying diseases, and you bring them into your garden. But carefully inspecting plants and trays before purchasing will help you prevent this. 
  • Plants can be costly depending on how many and where you buy seedlings. 
  • Never buy carrots and lettuce as plants. You are literally buying the same thing you can get in the produce isle just with dirt on them. 
  • You will have to rely on what the garden center or greenhouse has available for sale. You might miss out on your favorite veggies. 
  • Just because the plant is at your garden center doesn't mean it will produce in your growing zone. Remember my example from perennial vs. annual. 


Larger plants in the store don't mean they are healthy plants. They may be root-bound (where the roots have wrapped around each other because they have not been about to stretch out) and may have gotten a heavy dose of chemical fertilizer. 

Onions with roots

Pick smaller plants to loosen the roots up so they can grow naturally, spreading out in the soil. 

Now it's time for YOU and YOUR PLANTS to GROW: 

After some gardening experience, you will learn which veggies and fruits you would rather buy as plants and which ones you will start from seed.

The best thing is to start slow and learn. Don't think you must begin with 50 tomato plants or have a two-acre garden planted. Too much at one time will quickly lead to overwhelm and burnout. Gardening should be an enjoyable experience, not a dreaded one. 

Expect to learn, grow your knowledge, and change how you do something every year. I know I do every season. 

Check Out: Cottagecore Garden: A 5-Step Guide  for ways you can create a well rounded garden. 

If you would like some more plant vs. seed tips, go check out this video, it's an older one put the info still applies:  Seeds vs Plants, Which Do I Buy?



Thanks for stopping by the Wildwood Wonder Modern Cottagecore Homestead.

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