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Are Microgreen Seeds Different From Regular Seeds?

A frequent question in our inbox is, are microgreens seeds different from regular seeds?

The short answer is that microgreen seeds are no different from seeds you can plant in the garden.

However, you must be careful if you’re using seeds explicitly packed for planting in the garden.

Some seeds in the packets you find in box stores or hardware stores can be treated with fungicides to help gardeners protect the young plants in the uncontrollable conditions outside garden beds.

are microgreen seeds different from regular seeds

Microgreen Seeds Aren’t Different From Regular Seeds

But that doesn’t mean you want to buy garden-pack seeds for microgreens.

The main reason is that it’s not economical to do so.

Seed packets sold for garden use contain far fewer seeds than you’ll need for a tray of microgreens. In the garden, seeds are sown further apart so the plants can grow to mature size.

This is why garden seed packets sold in garden centers contain fewer seeds than in specialty microgreen stores.

For example, the seed packets in the cover photo, Pac Choi, beets, and radishes, contain just two grams of seed. You want to use way more seed than that when planting microgreens.

home microgreens sells seeds

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Specifically, if we take the radish packet from High Mowing Organic Seeds, it contains 1/16 of an ounce or 1.77 grams. I believe the packet cost over $2.00.

When we plant radishes in the Home Microgreens tray, we use over 5 grams of seeds.

A Home Microgreens Seed packet costs $1.69. You can see the cost savings by purchasing a seed packet from Home Microgreens and using those seeds in your garden.

home microgreens seed packet
growing red rambo microgreens

Or, you can plant your microgreens tray and save a few seeds for the garden.

We Suggest the Opposite, Plant Microgreen Seeds in the Garden!

If you grow microgreens, there is no need to buy garden packs of the same varieties.

We plant the same seeds we sell as microgreen seeds in the garden.

We sometimes have 100 pounds of Bull’s Blood Beet seed in stock. We will not buy a packet of seeds containing less than two grams for garden use.

There is no difference in the seeds or the outcome.

beet microgreens 16-days after planting
bull's blood beet in the garden

Not Sure How to Plant Them in the Garden?

Look online for planting instructions, and in the future, our new labels will also include both microgreen and garden planting instructions.

What Are Microgreen Seeds?

Even though the seeds we use as microgreen seeds are the same as regular seeds, we refer to them as microgreen seeds for several reasons.

  • We want website search engines to rank our products and content.
  • To be clear to buyers looking specifically for microgreens to be sure they are in the right place.
  • It’s more about marketing than anything else.

The seeds in garden packets and those sold as microgreen or sprouting seeds are the same. The only difference will be the suggested growing instructions and the number of seeds in the packet.

microgreen seeds

Regular Seeds in Retail Packs

You find regular garden seeds in garden centers, box stores, and websites containing far fewer seeds than those packaged for use as microgreens.

That isn’t to say larger packets of garden seeds can’t be used to grow microgreens. It’s not the norm for a home gardener to need an ounce or more of basil or kale seeds for the garden all.

Garden packs contain fewer seeds because the average home garden doesn’t need as many as the microgreen grower.

The cost of garden seed packets is expensive compared to microgreen seeds because it is as much or more work to pack smaller quantities of seed, and the packaging and labeling can also be more expensive. 

Another reason for the higher price is that companies focusing on the home gardener usually get only one selling opportunity for each customer. While microgreen customers, on average, buy more than once per year. 

Again, if you decide to use leftover garden seeds, or find a season-end sale on seeds, look closely at the packet to be sure they are not treated.

Seeds Sold as Microgreen Seeds

Microgreen seeds are sold in larger quantities because they are sown at much greater seeding densities. The customer needs more.

Microgreens and often planted biweekly or weekly all year round, or at least for several months., So the consumer needs many more seeds than the outdoor gardener.

This is why many microgreen seed companies only sell ounce or larger packages.

Home Microgreens has a much different focus than other microgreen sellers. We also have larger-sized packages and bags of seeds, but we also have seed packages that contain the perfect amount of seed for specific-sized planting trays.

Unlike other suppliers that are often vague about seeding rates, we have our own calculator that you can use to figure out how many seeds you need for different-sized planting trays.

Seeds sold for use as microgreens are not treated in any way, as we want to eat the young shoots.

Are Microgreen Seeds the Same as Sprouting Seeds?

Yes, you can use some varieties of microgreen seeds and grow them as sprouts.

If you didn’t know, microgreens and sprouts are not the same. Some of the same seeds can be used to grow sprouts, but they are grown, harvested, and eaten differently.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss the differences, but we have written an article on the subject, and you can read it by clicking this link.

what is the difference between sprouts and microgreens

Before we move on, we’d like to add that not all microgreen seeds can be grown as sprouts, and not all seeds used as sprouts can be grown as microgreens.

Can You Use Bird Seeds for Microgreens?

We are going to say no to this for a few reasons.

Not that you can’t grow birdseed, but the seed is stored, packaged, and treated differently.

Seed packaged for bird food is not as clean as in dustier and not windowed as much as the seed sold for garden and microgreen seeds.

Birdseed is often chemically treated before planting, and most, if not all, commercially packaged sunflowers are labeled “not for human consumption.” 

don't use bird seed as microgreen seeds

This is a seed handling problem because the FDA does not inspect the facilities that package bird seed.

But there are other issues, too, when trying to grow them.

All seeds sold for garden or microgreen use must be tested for germination rate annually. 

Seeds sold for wild or pet animal use do not.

So most likely, you will not have a high germination rate.

Also, the probability of disease issues (fungus) is much higher as the seeds have not been grown or handled as well as those for microgreen use. We have many emails from people who have tried to grow sunflower shoots from bird food sunflowers and had issues.

We do not think taking any of these risks is wise, regardless of the much lower cost.

Can I use Microgreens Seeds in the Garden? Specifically, Home Microgreens Seed Packs

Absolutely! We do, and they grow as well in the garden as in the house.

Why not spend your money wisely and get more value?

We have not fact-checked the weight difference or seed count of all the Home Microgreen seed varieties, but we are confident most, if not all, of the seed packets packaged for the Home Microgreens planting tray contain more seeds for less money than any garden packet.

Rob Peter to Pay Paul

If you’re growing microgreens, save 10 or 20 seeds from your microgreen seeds and plant them as starts or directly into the garden. You will not even notice the difference in your microgreens tray!

Using seeds bought for microgreen use in the garden is a great way to save money.

What Seeds Are Commonly Used for Microgreens?

If you’re new to microgreens, you might not know what types of plant seeds are grown as microgreens.

If you are new, check out our Start Here page to see what microgreens are all about.

There are four kinds or types of plants grown as microgreens. These are vegetable plants, herbs, grasses, and even flowers!

Microgreen Vegetables

Most microgreens fall under the vegetable category. We don’t have a list of all the plants that can be grown as microgreens. But maybe we should start to catalog them.

A few of the most common vegetable types grown as microgreens are listed below.

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Carrot
  • Turnip
  • Collards
  • Mustards
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Orach
  • Peas
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Fava Bean
  • Brussel Sprouts

This list is not all-inclusive, we’re sure we missed some types, or people have had success with others we don’t know about yet.

Microgreen Herbs

Herbs are another plant type that is grown as microgreens. These are some of the most flavorful varieties. Herbs often take much longer to grow, but they are worth it!

Here are the most commonly grown herb microgreens

  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Shiso
  • Chives*
  • Lovage
  • Parsley
  • Cress
  • Chervil
  • Fenugreek
  • Oregano
  • Arugula
  • Cilantro
  • Sorrel
  • Lemon Balm
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Microgreen Flowers

A better way to say this would be flowers grown as microgreens. Even though these plants’ flowers may be edible, as microgreens, they are harvested way before they bloom.

The most common flowering plants grown for microgreens are listed below.

  • Sunflowers
  • Celosia
  • Signet marigold
  • Borage
  • Amaranth*
  • Three-color Daisy (Shungiku)
  • Nasturtiums
  • Chives*
  • Edible Chrysanthemum

Microgreen Grasses or Grains

Yep, even some of the grasses and grains are grown for their young shoots.

These are often blended or juiced as some contain silica or are very fibrous if not juiced, but they have a lot of nutrition.

You can also grow many of these for pet grass, so your cats or dogs can get fresh vitamins and minerals.

  • Amaranth*
  • Barley
  • Alfalfa
  • Wheat
  • Buckwheat
  • Pop Corn
  • Oats
  • Clover

Microgreen Seed Mixes

Microgreen mixes are very popular.

Microgreens grown from our Mighty Micro mix have outsold all the other microgreens we sell wholesale and directly to customers. 

Seed sales of Mighty Micro are also picking up with repeat customers. 

The advantage of microgreen seed mixes is that you can blend flavors and gain health benefits from several varieties in one tray.

Microgreen mixes come in themes, whether based on taste (mild, spicy), groups like brassicas or mustards, or nutrition.

The trick is to mix seeds that have similar growth characteristics.

Especially the germination rate. Too long of a time gap makes it difficult to control the blackout period. Too many microgreens seeds that are quick to grow crowd out the slower-growing varieties. This can be controlled somewhat by the percentage of each variety used in the mix.

The point is that mixes take a little bit of work to get right, but when they are, you gain benefits from one harvest. 

Recap of Are Microgreen Seeds Different from Regular Seeds?

Microgreen seeds are no different from regular seeds. They are the same varieties grown in the garden or found in the grocery store’s produce section.

So you don’t need special seeds for microgreens. 

Microgreens can be grown from almost any kind of standard vegetable, although some seeds are more recommended than others. The most commonly grown vegetables, herbs, flowers, and grasses are listed above.

Microgreen seeds are usually purchased in larger quantities because they are sown much more densely. 

Home Microgreens does sell smaller packets with the perfect amount of seeds for several different-sized containers.

We also suggest you save a few of your microgreen seeds and plant them as garden starters or sow them directly into your garden!

Save yourself the cost of an extra garden seed packet by holding back a few seeds from your next microgreen tray.

Author

  • Todd

    Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens & the Home Microgreens store. He also writes for several other websites, including MyViewFromTheWoods.com. Todd worked at a large farm market, garden & nursery center for 20 years. Somehow he snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming back to his senses to write & lecture about microgreens and gardening. When not at the computer, he can be found in the garden, trout stream, or mountain trail with his new Springer Spaniel Caden.

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