Best Seed Starting Trays of 2023
We’ve started a lot of seeds over the years and decided to compile a list of the best seed starting trays. Let’s start with our absolute favorite, the Burpee SuperSeed 16XL.
When it comes to durability these trays are superior. Your seedlings can grow large in the 2″x2″x2″ cells, plenty of room for roots and less transplanting. The large drain holes and silicone bottoms make it easy to pop out your seedlings. Give these a try, we know you’ll love them as much as we do!
And one of our favorite features… the alphanumerical grid, that Burpee calls the Plant-o-Gram, allows you to keep track of what seeds you’ve sown without using plant tags. Even though there’s no humidity dome included, we found that 2 of these trays side-by-side can be covered by a standard 10×20 dome.
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Sure, you could just go to the nursery and purchase seedlings, but what fun is that? Not only will you miss out on the joy and satisfaction of watching your seeds sprouts. On top of that, the garden centers usually only carry run of the mill plant varieties. If you want to grow something unique, you’ll need to start seeds in a high-quality seed starting mix.
We know it can be difficult to navigate all the options when choosing seed starter trays. But having the right tools for the job can eliminate frustration and lead to success. Seedling trays come in many shapes and sizes; some even include accessories. To help you narrow down your choice, we reviewed the best seed starting trays and listed their advantages and disadvantages.
Best Seed Starting Trays
Combo – Soligt Seed Starting Package
Small Trays – YAUNGEL Seed Starter Trays
Reusable – Burpee SuperSeed 36 Cell Trays
Biodegradable – Eco Pots Biodegradable Trays
Self Watering – Burpee Self-Watering Seed Starter Tray
Seed Starting Kit – Jiffy Seed Starting Greenhouse
Beginner Trays – Gardzen 200 Cell Propagator Kit
Thing to Consider When Choosing the Best Seed Starting Trays
Most seed starting trays are made of plastic. However, not all plastics are the same. Some seed trays are made of thin plastic, while others are thicker and more durable, lasting through many growing seasons. For those who don’t like the idea of using plastic, we’ve listed some biodegradable organic seed trays. Just remember, you have to buy new trays every season when choosing biodegradable options.
Seed trays should also provide good drainage so that your seed starting mix doesn’t stay too damp. Too much moisture and your seeds may mold under the soil and never germinate. If they germinate, the overly damp soil can lead to problems like dampening off where the seedling basically rots off at soil level.
Amount of cells
Some seed starting trays have only a few cells, while other trays are one piece and fit into a standard 10″x20″ watering tray. Personally, I prefer small cell clusters to large one-piece trays. Since some vegetables go to the garden earlier than others, planting the seeds in separate cell groups eliminates the need to carry a whole large tray around the garden.
The size of seed cells you need depends on the type of plants you want to grow and how long you want to grow them in seed trays. Most vegetables can be started in standard 1.5 inch seed cells. For larger vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, etc., a cell 2 inches or larger in diameter would be ideal.
Humidity Dome – The use of a humidity dome is recommended. They help a lot in seed germination. As with seed trays, not all moisture domes are created equal. Vented humidification domes are ideal, but not necessary.
Seedling Heat Mat – Depending on what type of plants you’ll be growing; a seedling heat mat can be invaluable. Warm weather vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes need the soil to be over 75F to germinate properly. NOTE: Always use a temperature control thermostat with a heat mat.
Plant Tags – As you sow your seeds, you’ll need to label the cells. Plant tags can be inexpensive plastic plant tags or nice wooden markers. You could even use a popsicle stick.
How We Rated the Best Seed Starting Trays?
We base our product recommendations on many factors such as durability, construction, capacity, functionality, and any accessories included. You’ll find that we list products by best-in-class, which allows us to fairly compare items such as plastic vs. biodegradable trays. In addition, some gardeners may have other needs as well. By providing the best-in-class recommendations, we can ensure that everyone can find a seed tray that suits their specific needs.
60-Cell (x2) Seed Starter Combo
|Tray Size||10″ x 16″|
|Number of Cells||60 (x2 trays) – Total of 120 cells|
|Cell Size||1.5″W x 1.5″L x 2″D|
Burpee SuperSeed 36 Cell Seed Starter Tray
|Material||Thick Plastic and Flexible Silicone|
|Tray Size||11.5″ x 10.5″|
|Number of Cells||36|
|Cell Size||1.5″W x 1.5″L x 2″D|
Seed Starter Trays 10 Pack, (120 Cells)
Having 12 cells per tray makes it easy to scale up your seed starting to size. A 3.5″ high vented humidity dome for each tray. They even include a couple seed planting tools.
|Tray Size||6.5″ x 5″|
|Number of Cells||12 per tray (120 total)|
|Cell Size||1.2″W x 1.2″L x 2″D|
100 Biodegradable Seed Cells
|Tray Size||8.5″ x 3″|
|Number of Cells||10 per tray (100 total)|
|Cell Size||1.4″W x 1.4″L x 1.75″D|
Burpee Self-Watering Seed Starter Tray, 72 Cells
No worry that your seedlings drying out while you’re away with this self-watering seed starting tray. Includes coco coir pellets. We’ve had great success when using this tray.
|Tray Size||10″ x 20″|
|Number of Cells||72|
|Cell Size||1.5″W x 1.5″L x 2″D|
Ferry Morse Jiffy Seed Starting Greenhouse, 72 Cells
|Tray Size||11″ x 21″|
|Number of Cells||72 seedlings per tray (144 total)|
|Cell Size||1.4″W x 1.4″L x 1.85″D|
Gardzen 200 Cell Propagator Set
|Tray Size||9″ x 14.5″|
|Capacity||40 cells per tray (200 total)|
|Pellet Size||1.5″W x 1.5″L x 2″D pellets when expanded|
We always list our favorite product at the top of the page, in this case it’s the Burpee SuperSeed 16XL. We feel that the durability, functionality, and cell size of these seed starting trays is superior and will suite the needs of most gardeners. However, for those on a budget or just starting out, the Gardzen trays are the most cost-effective choice and it even includes humidity domes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose the best seed starting trays?
The perfect seed tray can be a matter of opinion. You may prefer large trays with lots of small cells, while another gardener might prefer smaller trays with larger cells. We encourage you to read the product reviews on this page. We will show you the advantages and disadvantages of each product.
Does it save money starting seeds?
Consider this…a packet of seeds that will grow 20 plants may only buy one or two seedlings from a nursery. Of course, there will be an initial investment in equipment. However, buying quality planting tools that will give you years of enjoyment will pay for itself in no time.
How many seed starting trays do I need?
Once you have figured out how many plants you will have in your garden, there are a few things to consider. Some gardeners choose to grow multiples of each plant in case some seedlings don’t survive. However, this requires more trays. To save space, many gardeners choose to plant more seeds per cell. This reduces the number of seed starting trays needed and ensures at least one of your seeds will sprout. If there are many seeds growing in each cell, you can remove the weakest seedlings later.
Do I need a humidity dome?
A humidity dome will increase your chances of success when growing from seed. Even some of the best seed starter trays don’t come with a humidity dome, but these can be purchased separately for a reasonable price.
Should I use a seedling heat mat?
Cold-weather crops like spinach, lettuce, and other leafy greens don’t need a heat mat as long as the temperature you start planting at is above 60 F. For warm climate plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc., keep the soil temperature at 75-80 F for the best germination time and rate. If you can’t reach these temperatures naturally, consider investing in a seedling heat mat and thermostat. NOTE: ALWAYS use a temperature controller (thermostat) with the heating pad. They are not always included with heating mats, but a thermostat that controls the temperature can be purchased separately. Using the heat mat without a thermostat will most likely result in the seed overheating.
Can I reuse seed starting trays?
With the exception of biodegradable trays, most of the best seed starting trays are reusable if caution is taken when removing seedlings. Even the cheapest plastic trays can be used over and over again. However, we recommend Burpee SuperSeed seed starting trays for ease of use and maximum life.
I hope this review has been helpful in finding the best seed starter trays for your application. If you are looking for seeds to fill your trays, please feel free to visit our seed store.