Can You Grow Microgreens On A Paper Towel?

by Lettuce Be | Last Updated: 11/10/2021

Health-conscious home gardeners often grow microgreens for their consumption. The seeds and other equipment necessary to grow microgreens are relatively easy to obtain and are not overly expensive. Growing microgreens can be done in many media, but on a paper towel is one of the simplest. There are a lot of advantages to this option, including being much easier and cleaner than using any type of soil.

Could a paper towel be used to grow microgreens?

Usually when you think of growing anything, whether it be microgreen plants or otherwise, you think of using the soil method. However, you can grow microgreens on paper towels! If the seeds are placed on damp paper towels, they get a nice moist environment to grow in. Using a damp paper towel to grow microgreens is an easy and efficient way to set up and clean up, and you don’t have to deal with soil in your house – which tends to make a big mess.

growing microgreens on a paper towelGrowing Microgreens On A Paper Towel

It only takes a few things and the process is quite easy to grow microgreens on a paper towel.


To start, you will need some sort of tray that is less than two inches deep and most probably with drainage holes. The size of the tray doesn’t matter much but depends on what will work best in your house. In greenhouses, growers often use 10×20 inch trays, but any size will do, and you can do smaller batches of seeds. You just need to customize your numbers to the container size.

Paper Towel

Put a sheet of paper towel exactly the right size in your container once you have chosen the container. Depending on the size of the paper towel that you selected, you may have to cut it smaller or use two pieces of paper towel.


Your seeds can be placed on top of the paper towel once your paper towel is ready. In general, you want about 21 seeds per square inch. So just measure the square inches of your container and multiply 21 by that number. You will then have a good idea of the number of seeds you’ll need. Sprinkle your seeds on top of the paper towel. Make sure the paper towel is moist enough to hold the seeds by using plain water but avoid excess water in the tray.

Exposure To Light

Afterward, it’s time for your microgreens to undergo the germination process! Let them receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight a day for optimal growth. A sunny window should do the trick, but in the event, your home is usually dark, you may want to acquire a grow light. These can be purchased at your local garden store or on Amazon and are rather inexpensive.

Optimal Temperature

The average house will be a suitable temperature for seed sprouts, though if your house is cooler than 18°C, we recommend purchasing a heating mat that you can put underneath the seed tray. Seeds need warm conditions during the germination period. Therefore, heat mats must be removed once the seeds begin sprouting.

Harvest Time

Microgreens are generally ready for harvest about 1-2 weeks after germination. Microgreens grow best on paper towels, so when it’s time to harvest them, they can be pulled right off the paper towel and discarded whole, roots and all. The roots you could eat would have to be cut off above the soil level if growing in soil. Roots of microgreens may still contain the outer shell of the seed. It can be fully consumed but if you would rather not eat it, then you can remove the hull by soaking all the greens in water and swishing them around with your hand. It is best to pick up the hulls by hand since they float just above the surface of the water. Put your microgreens in between two wet paper towels in a plastic bag or a container and store them in the fridge for up to a week.

What Makes Growing Microgreens On Paper Towels Beneficial?

Microgreens can be grown on paper towels for several reasons.

Setting Up And Cleaning Up Are Easier

Paper towel allows you to save from the mess that can be made from growing microgreens in soil. Since you want to grow microgreens in the house, you will probably have to bring in soil containers from outside to your home. This might get messy, and the soil might end up on the floor or the countertop. The mess is compounded by the fact that most people dump their used soil when harvesting microgreens. Those who live in apartments or who don’t have a yard have to figure out a place to put their soil. All of that is eliminated with the paper towel method. Most of us already have paper towels in the cupboard. They are easy to store and easy to dispose of after use. It’s easy to grow microgreens on a paper towel – all you need is a piece of paper towel and a tray. The cleanup is also easy because you can just toss out the old paper towel and then your tray is ready for the next use.

Edible Roots

Another advantage of this method is you can eat the entire plant, root, and all. You will thereby enjoy a higher return on your investment when producing microgreens for your dishes. You can eat a little more of the greens than if you were cultivating them in soil with the same amount of nutrients.

Increased Air Circulation

Some people have found that their microgreens produce better results when grown on a paper towel rather than in soil. When we use soil, we might overwater, or overpack the microgreens, and the air isn’t able to circulate effectively. This can lead to the microgreens rotting or just simply not growing well. On a paper towel, the greens will stay moist at the root, but they will also dry out more than in soil, reducing the chance of mold and disease.

The Downsides Of Microgreens Growing on Paper Towels

Despite its many advantages, this method has a couple of disadvantages.

Moisture Maintenance Needed

In general, paper towels are drier than using a soil tray. This means you will need to spray your greens with water more often. Paper towel dries out quickly so that it helps prevent rot in the roots, but it can also work against you if you don’t remember to monitor for constant moisture. The greens will wilt if moisture levels are too low. Be sure to check the paper towel at least twice a day for spritzes of water as needed!


The microgreens you grow on unbleached paper towels are more fragile. Unlike soil microgreens which have established roots, on paper towels they aren’t able to. To prevent damaging or breaking your microgreens, you’ll need to be very gentle while you grow them on a paper towel.

How Should Microgreens Be Grown?

You need to find a method that works best for you and that is easy for your environment and lifestyle. All methods of growing microgreens have both pros and cons. That being said, using a paper towel as a medium is an excellent place to start, as you will not need to purchase any quality potting mix, wood shavings, or any other growing medium.

What Are The Best Microgreens To Grow?

Several microgreens require more patience and are more finicky than others. The easiest microgreens to grow include:

Are Regular Seeds Suitable for Growing Microgreens?

A microgreen is a newly sprouted seedling of any plant. You can certainly use regular seed varieties to produce microgreens, and you do not need to use any special kind of seeds. A wide variety of microgreen seeds can be produced in theory, but of course, some are easier to grow or taste better than others.

Final Words

This is a really fun way to give yourself and your family the gift of homegrown nutrition. Growing microgreens can also be a really fun gardening project. The paper towel method is an easy way to get started growing microgreens since you don’t need anything more than a shallow tray. With it, you don’t need to deal with getting rid of used soil or wood shavings after harvesting your microgreens. You will have fresh microgreens in no time with a little patience on your microgreen growing journey.