Growing houseplants from seed is an inexpensive alternative to purchasing commercially grown plants. According to the Cornell University Extension, the best growing medium is a peat-lite mix. Place the growing medium in a container with a drainage hole, moisten the medium, and sow the seeds over the surface of the medium. Do not cover the smallest seeds with medium. Cover the container with a plastic bag and place in a warm area away from direct light. Keep the soil moist with frequent misting.
The asparagus fern (Asparagus setaceus) is not actually a true fern. With its trailing feathery foliage, this plant grows well in a hanging basket. Place the plant in an east window with medium or morning light. Asparagus fern requires cool temperatures and moist soil. To avoid browning or yellowing, do not place in a warm, dry, or dimly lit area. According to the Cornell University Extension, seeds will germinate within 29 days.
The green, golden, or variegated leaflets of the dwarf schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) can grow up to 4 inches long. This plant prefers medium to full sun, with temperatures between 15.5 and 23.8 degrees C. Place the dwarf schefflera in well drained soil; allow top 3/4-inch layer of soil to dry before watering. Before planting, soak seeds in hot water (60 degrees C) for 12 hours. According to the Cornell University Extension, the seeds should germinate within 39 days.
Norfolk Island Pine
This South Pacific conifer serves as a Christmas tree in many apartments. Although it can reach heights of 200 feet outdoors, Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) will grow to about 2 feet tall in a container. Norfolk Island Pine requires cool temperatures, with medium light in an east window. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Expect seeds to germinate within 15 days.
Reaching heights of 8 to 10 feet, the umbrella tree (Schefflera octophylla, S. actinophylla) bears shiny, large leaves with 12-inch long leaflets. For best results, place this plant in medium light. To avoid root rot, water only after the soil has become moderately dry. According to the Clemson University Extension, this plant, with the exception of the Arnate cultivar, is vulnerable to mite infestations. Soak seeds in hot water 12 hours before sowing; seeds should germinate in 38 days.
The weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), which is a small tree, bears shiny dark green leaves) To avoid leaf drop, avoid cold temperatures and do not move the plant to a new location. The relative of the rubber plant prefers medium to low light in a north window. According to Cornell University, seeds should be sowed on the surface of the growing medium; expect germination within 28 days.