Starting Pechay Seeds on a Foam/Sponge

I’ve been watching a lot of youtube videos about hydroponics and one of the things that I notice Hydroponic Farmers have are seed starters like rockwool. What I’ve noticed about them is that they look a lot like a foam or a sponge and somehow had the idea of starting my seeds on a foam. So I did more research on growing things on foam and found out that you actually can. But there are still a lot of questions on my mind that I never read or watched on the videos. Plus what is written on the internet is really not enough, I still have to prove things on my own so I did it.

My 3 styrofoam cups where I put my pechay seedlings that grew on a foam
My 3 styrofoam cups where I put my pechay seedlings that grew on a foam

 Can you start seeds on a foam? The answer is YES! And I have done it.

How did I do it?

I went to a general merchandise shop here in Roxas, Palawan and looked for a dishwashing foam and found one. The yellow one is 5 Pesos/piece (4″ x 3″ x 2″) and the blue one is 10 Pesos/piece (8″ x 3″ x 2″).

The foams I bought from the General Merchandise Store
The foams I bought from the General Merchandise Store

Then I cut the yellow one into 1″ x 1″ x 2″ and cut a 1/4 inch deep slit on the foam so I could place my pechay (Bok Choy) seeds on them.

Pechay Seedlings growing on foam
The slit where I placed my pechay seeds.

I followed a youtube video saying that I should water the foam and twist it so that it would release excess water. Then I planted my pechay seeds in the slits. Placed the foam cubes in a styrofoam cup filled with a little water so that the foam would not dry out.

After 3 days, the pechay seeds still did not sprout! So I checked on the condition of the foam and it turns out the part of the foam touching the seeds were dry!

I was having doubts on that youtube video since they only showed the procedure of how to plant it and never showed if the seeds did sprout.

What I did next was I poured on water above the foam and did not remove the excess water. Some of the foam on the other styrofoam cups I did not add the water. After about a day, the one that I poured water on started sprouting! So that’s what I did with the others and they did sprout after a day.

Insect Problems

Since my styrofoam cups with water was just left open they did a great job of attracting insects to it. Some of them drowned others did not. Unfortunately, some of them were mosquitoes that were attracted to the stagnant water and now I wonder if a dengue or malaria infected mosquito is flying around the house. I’ll be transplanting this things soon so I can prevent the insects from approaching my setup.


I do hope that the dead insects will add nutrients to the water. But next time I’ll put a screen around them to protect the water from insects, especially the mosquitoes.

Will the roots be able to penetrate the foam once they start growing?

That’s one of my biggest questions when it comes to starting the seeds on a foam. To answer the question, YES! The roots will be able to penetrate the foam. See the picture below.

Pechay roots sticking out of the bottom of the foam.

Now that I have started my pechay seeds on a foam and convinced myself that it works, now I could confidently try it on other crops. Hopefully, they do work there too. I’ll update you on the others once I get to do them.

Other lessons learned

I did not put the styrofoam cups on where it is directly hit by the sunlight that’s why they have a long stem. Next time I need to put them where they can get hit by the sunlight directly at the same time the rain would not flood them.

I could go cheaper if I bought a bigger size foam. I’m thinking of buying a foam which is as big as a bed since the foam I bought has the same material as usual bed foams. I will definitely get cheaper with that. But I do not have a vehicle, so that would be a logistical nightmare. I may have gotten the foam cheaper but the transportation expenses may just go up too much. For now I’ll just stay with the 10 Peso foams.

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