How to grow cotton from a seed

Growing cotton requires warm temperatures. To germinate seeds, you need the temperature to be at least 15.6 degrees C. For the plants to grow, you'll need a temperature range of between 21.1 degrees C and 26.7 degrees C. And when the cotton blooms, the temperature should be 26.7 degrees C to 32.2 degrees C. Along with warm temperatures, you also need to have soil that not only holds water but also drains well. Ideal soils for growing cotton tend to be red sand loam along with black and alluvial soils.

Clear the ground where you will be planting the cotton, making sure it is free of any debris before fertilising the soil with manure or compost. Once you are done, rake the soil so that it is level.

Dig into the ground 6 to 8 inches in preparation for planting the seeds. Your rows should be 1 to 1.5 feet wide and be somewhere around 2 feet apart. Make a little furrow about 1 inch deep in the middle of each of the rows. To help you make straight rows, you can fasten a piece of string that is as long as your row to a couple of sticks to mark the line for you.

Place a couple of cotton seeds about 4 inches apart in the furrow you have dug. Then cover them with the soil you previously dug up.

Wait a few weeks until the seeds sprout before watering your cotton seedlings. Then you will need to water them every week. You will also have to fertilise your cotton plants every couple of weeks with a fertiliser that has lots of potassium and nitrogen.

Stop watering your cotton plants when they bloom (after about 16 weeks) so that you give the plants a chance to dry and lose their leaves. In general, you can start picking your cotton when the bolls open and the fibres are dry and fluffy, a process that can take anywhere from four to seven months.


Cotton thrives in places that have a hot and humid climate with good amounts of rainfall. However, it also requires a great deal of sun. Cotton can be grown in a greenhouse as long the soil is fertile, and the temperature is warm. In general, you will need between an acre and an acre-and-a-half for each bale of cotton you want to produce. You can grow cotton in large pots, but you should limit the seed to three per container. As they germinate, eliminate all but the hardiest seedling, leaving it to grow by itself in the pot. You can eat the petals of cotton flowers; they taste sort of like okra.


Growing cotton takes a great deal of land, water, and pesticides. Cotton plants tend to blow over quite easily, so you may need to provide them with some sort of support. Cotton plants are susceptible to red spider mites. You can treat these pests by frequently misting the plants with water or spraying them with insecticidal soap.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton seeds
  • Fertilised soil
  • Water
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About the Author

Melanie White is a freelance writer and educator with over 15 years experience writing such diverse projects as corporate videos, marketing materials, magazine/newspaper articles, play and sitcom scripts, jokes, and monologues. White has a BA in English and a specialization in Creative Writing from Southern Methodist University.