Seed starter mix won't moisten

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8b)

I have decided to try growing flowers from seeds. The seed starter mix I purchased (Ferry Morse) will not moisten. It is like it is water repellant. How do I moisten the mix? Let it set? Drown it? Please help.

Saugerties, NY(Zone 5a)

Maybe you should try hot water to moisten and see if that works, also try to moisten from the bottom and let it set. Others may know better than I.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You can let it sit and it'll wet eventually, or if you want to speed things up you could try adding a tiny bit of dish soap to the water. Many mixes have peat in them and peat is very hard to rewet once it's gotten dry.

Conneaut, OH(Zone 5a)

I let it sit in a plastic bowel overnight.Once its wet it holds moisture.Stiring helps.Water repellant no,resistant yeah,kinda

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8b)

Well that makes sense. Thanks everyone for your input. I rewatered it with a tiny bit of dishsoap in the water can and I'll try to be patient while it moistens overnight.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

This is why I have a major issue with all these Holiday Bulb Kits!!!

The "soil" they pack in there is pure, powdered Peat Moss. You almost cannot get it to absorb any water......

I once put the peat moss in a 6" pot and poured water over it all. Two days later--It was still sitting there on top of it. Nothing had soaked in! Yep! I would call that water resistant!
And yes! Stirring it regularly helps......Warm water might help---but buying a quality seed starter mix is the way to go.


Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

I just happened by this thread. It seems like all the seed mixes are like this because they are mostly peat which is considered sterile for seed starting purposes. The trick I found that works fairly quick is to put the mix in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the hottest water I can get from the tap over it. I then stir it around and COVER it to keep the steam in. The high humidity from the hot water permeates through the mix as long as you keep it covered. I give it a stir about every 20 minutes or so and it can be ready in 2 hours or less. If during this time it looks like it is not wet enough I add a little bit more of the very hot water, stir and cover again. If I have mix left over after I fill pots or trays I cover the bowl with aluminum foil to keep the moisture in for later use. Hope this helps!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

You can also do all the same--and cover it and microwave it. Just make sure there is plenty of moisture in the mix--or it might explode! I would say pour a few cups of water in it and nuke it for about 6-8 minutes on high. That should also kill anything in it.


Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

One of the best ways to water where it beads up is by spray bottle. It changes the surface tension, and it is much more likely to absorb water.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8b)

So then do I fill the peat pots with a spatula???? LOL like icing a cake!

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I put peatmoss in a large container, then add water. After that, I use my hands to mix the water into the peatmoss. Rubbing the peatmoss in your hands to loosen it helps also. Once it is at least damp, add a bit more water. Continue until it is satisfactory moist, then leave it overnight to allow each fiber to "feed" moisture from each other. The peatmoss takes time to absorb moisture and does so by syphoning (sp?) like when you place a plant in a dish of water, then add some water to the top soil to start the water to draw upwards in action.

Sorry if I didn't explain this right. In either case, it is how I do it.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8b)

blomma, I understand your train of thought. I think the word you are looking for is "wicking"....the moisture will wick itself into the dry areas.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Exactly the word I was searching for. Thanks.

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

I do the same thing as blomma, except I use a mop bucket so I can do a lot at once. A full bucket usually fills about two flats of inserts. I don't let it sit over night but I spend a bit of time using my fingers to break up any dry balls and mix them in. It takes a bit of work to get it ready but once it is the right moistness I fill up my flats and sow. Doing it this way helps to avoid getting only half full containers - which I've experienced in the past - when just putting the mix dry - into it's container and bottom watering.

Wanted to add: I use about a half of a large watering can to get it right. Slowly adding warm water and stabbing and stirring with a spade- and squishing with my hands, as I go. This is the amount for the compressed bail type which needs a lot more water than the loose bagged type.
You wil know when the mix has the right amount of moisture, when it's like squishing up chocolate cake : )

This message was edited Feb 22, 2009 4:37 PM

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

My daughter who use lots of peatmoss buys the bales packaged in heavy plastic. She cuts the top open, the fills the bale with water as needed, a bit at a time. The peatmoss uses a wicking action to draw the moisture up all through the bale. Takes time but works great. I have done that also when the bag is half full.

Cary, NC

I am trying to start some seeds for the first time. I already have my seeds planted in starter pots in starter mix for several days. I'm spraying my water from a bottle. I noticed this morning that my water is just sitting on top of the soil, or only penetrating 1/8 inch! Below that the mix is completely dry!

I don't want to replant - I imagine hot water might kill the seeds? I'm afraid dish soap will kill them as well?

What should I do?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

You didn't say if it won't moisten once in the pot, or before potting.

Most potting soil needs to be premoistened before using it. I put enough soil in a large container add some water a bit at a time, stir it around. Peatmoss is difficult to get moist. Best is to leave the soil over night once you got it moist so it will spread evenly.

Never pot up dry soil then try to moisten it. If done, your best bet is to place the pot in a dish with 1" of water, pour some water on top of the soil to start the syphoning action. When the pot feels heavy, it usually is moist all the way.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


You should have totally hydrated the seeding mix before you used it--as it is very Peat Moss based-which does not absorb water easily. Peat, actually, repels water. It has to be "watered in" before you use it.

When you buy a bag of seed stating mix---pour about a quart (or more) really warm water in the bag and seal it shut again. Mush it around a bit and let it sit for a day or so until the Mix has absorbed all the water.
At this point--you can put the mix in as big a bowl as your MW will hold, cover it with plastic, and nuke it for 10-12 minutes on high to sterilize it. This way--the mix will not need to be watered for a while.

BTW--It is NOT recommended that you either spray your seedlings--or water them from the top--as this may lead to too much water and fungus. Please water all your seedlings from the bottom.


Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

we cross-posted with similar advice. What is the saying...."Great minds think alike"?????


Selma, IA(Zone 5a)

I put the mix in a large plastic bag put very hot water in it and shake it up. I just put enugh water in it to make it moist not like mud. Then I keep it in the bag and it is ready to use whenever you need it. It will stay moist for a long time. When I am done using it I dry it out and keep it till next year. Linda

Mount Vernon, OH

I use a huge mixing bowl and then put the soil in it and use warm water and mix with your hands til you get it as wet as needed. Does very well for me.

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