How to grow microgeens without soil

How to grow microgeens without soil

The good news is that microgreens can be grown in the absence of soil! They can also be grown in soilless media such as coconut coir or rockwool. (Tip: learn more about soilless farming here)

However, we have discovered that using paper towels is the simplest way to grow microgreens without soil.

When we talk about growing microgreens without soil, you might think we’re referring to some kind of alternative hydroponics system that still feeds the plants as they grow.

However, microgreens do not require anything of the sort.

We know that plants require nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to grow in soil. So, how can microgreens be grown in the absence of soil?

The key is in the seed.

Just as a baby chicken has everything it needs to grow inside an egg, a seed is a self-contained system that contains everything a plant needs to sprout and grow.

You only need a few things to grow microgreens on paper towels:

1# Microgreens seeds

Any type of vegetable seed will work, but microgreens seeds will have been specifically bred for use as microgreens.

Towels made of paper Avoid brands that contain dye or colouring that could be absorbed by your greens. It’s best if you have unbleached paper towels on hand, but these aren’t always easy to find.

Avoid paper towels that contain dye or colouring that could be absorbed by your greens. It’s best if you have unbleached paper towels on hand, but these aren’t always easy to find.

2# Water

In a pinch, regular tap water will suffice. However, ideally, you should use distilled or filtered water.

3# A growing container

Most microgreens growers use 10′′ x 20′′ (25 cm x 50 cm) plastic 1020 trays. If you’re just getting started, you can use any plate or baking tin with a lip to keep excess water from spilling over.

A spray bottle is used. Mist your microgreens every day to keep them moist.

What are the tips for successfully growing on paper towels

You may notice some white fuzz growing on your microgreens around day five. This is the plant’s roots and is not usually a sign of mould.

Choose the best microgreen varieties to grow on paper towels. Plants with shallow root systems and thin stalks, such as lettuce or arugula, will grow faster on paper towels than plants with large, thick stems, such as sunflower or pea shoots.

On a small scale, growing on paper towels works well. If you want to grow microgreens commercially, you should use soil.

Want to grow chard microgreens? Check our article about growing chard microgreens. Also, learn how to grow pea microgreens without soil here.

FAQs: What are the common Microgreen Growing Issues

Wilting or Falling Over

Although microgreens are naturally spindly, they should not wilt or fall over under their own weight in the short amount of time that you’re growing them. The most common cause of wilting greens is a lack of water.

Mold or Mildew

The most likely thing to ruin your microgreens crop is mould or mildew. If you discover mould growing on your greens, simply discard them and start over. Trying to rinse them off or cut around the mouldy bits isn’t worth the health risk.

Microgreens Smell Bad

All microgreens should smell good. Even if there are no visible signs of mould, if they have a foul odour, this is a sign that they are moulding or developing bacteria. It’s best to discard your rancid microgreens and start over.

Uneven Growth

Your microgreens will grow toward the light naturally. So, if you notice that one side of your tray is growing faster than the other, this is most likely the cause.

Even if they are stored in a dark cupboard, a sliver of light may be enough to cause uneven growth. You can fix this by rotating your container every day when you check on it.

Read also: How to Grow Radish Microgreens

Yellow Leaves

It’s normal for your microgreens to have yellow leaves when they first sprout. This is because you’re storing them in a dark place where they won’t get enough light to photosynthesize and produce chlorophyll.

As soon as you expose them to light, they will begin to turn green.

Poor Germination

Your microgreens seeds should begin to sprout within two or three days. If you notice that a large number of seeds aren’t sprouting, you may be dealing with old or low-quality seeds.


  1. Quality Evaluation of Indoor-Grown Microgreens Cultivated on Three Different Substrates
  2. Innovative Farming of Edible Micro Greens at Home and their Nutritional Composition
  3. Advances and emerging trends in cultivation substrates for growing sprouts and microgreens toward safe and sustainable agriculture