How to Grow Cotton Indoors

It’s fun to grow different plants, particularly plants that people don’t expect to see growing in your yard or home. So when a friend offered me cotton seeds I couldn’t turn them down. I received 12 white cotton seeds and 12 pastel cotton seeds. Now living in my zone 5 climate these plants need to be planted indoors. Bt Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum)
Creative Commons License photo credit: cliff1066

Once started the cotton plant is not that hard to care for. I started my seeds in four-inch pots with rich fertilized soil. You can also use regular potting soil but add plant fertilizer to enhance the soil.

Place 4 seeds in each four-inch pot. Water the seeds and place in a sunny area. I often will cover new seeds with a plastic cover to keep in the moisture. It acts like a greenhouse and helps the seeds to sprout quicker. When the seeds begin to sprout remove the plastic so that the plants can breath.

Once the seedlings have begun to grow, leave the healthiest looking seedling to grow in each pot. I remove the smaller ones and repot them. My nephews always enjoy these plants or I will take them to a retirement home for them to grow.

When the plants outgrow their original pots transplant them into 12-inch pots. Usually when the plants are developing their second set of full sized leaves they are ready to be transferred. After you transfer the plants, water them well and add some fertilizer to help with transplants shock. I give the plants a few days with less sun to recover then move them back into a sunny area.

Cotton plants thrive with a typical tomato feed that can be found in most garden centers, nurseries or online stores. The tomato feed is high in nutrients, which benefit the cotton plant.

Water the cotton plants regularly, usually once a week. I grow my cotton plants on my patio and bring them in the fall at night when the temperatures start to cool. Cotton is more of a warm weather crop so if your climate is a cool climate they may benefit from being brought in at night.

When the flowers of the cotton plant begin to die off, the ‘bolls’, which hold the cotton seed, begins to form. Cotton plants that are grown outdoors will drop their bolls at the end of the season when the plant is dying. Indoor cotton plants need to have the bolls picked.

Cotton plants are fun and unique, particularly the pastel colored cotton, but the plants have prickers and can scratch you so you need to take care around them. high cotton
Creative Commons License photo credit: chadmiller

I remember my first time I picked cotton at my cousins farm in Georgia. The cotton took a little getting used to in order to pick it properly without scratching yourself and ripping the boll. But it was a fun adventure and a field of cotton is a pretty site.

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20 responses to “How to Grow Cotton Indoors”

  1. Flowersbyfarha

    How interesting!

    What do you do with the cotton? Is there enough to spin?

  2. Denise

    I have used to cotton in small craft projects. I have also left toe cotton boll on the stem and used in dried arrangements. It makes a great accent flower arrangement with a cotton plant.

    No there is not enough cotton froma afew plants to spin. I am not sure how much cotton it would take. Denise

  3. Flowersbyfarha

    It would probably take more than anyone would want to pick, lol!

    Floral arrangement accent sounds interesting.


  4. Pamela

    where can I find pastel colored cotton? I would love to plant some?!!!

  5. Specialty seed catalogs carry it. I am looking to see if I can find the information for you. Denise

  6. chris

    I’m interested in buying several bouquets of cotton for my nieces wedding for centerpieces where can I get already dried cotton to make a bouquet?

  7. Denise

    Try looking for cotton in greenhoses that have gift shops. If they don;t have it they could probably order it for you. Denise

  8. Michelle Gregory

    Hi Denise, I found your site very informative. I recently traveled across country and fell in love with the cotton fields. At a stop in Texas , I bent down to just feel the cotton but of course I ended up picking a piece. It wasn’t until I thoroughly felt it that I realized there were seeds in it. So of course I got on line and came across your site. Thanks for all the info. Sincerely, Michelle Gregory

  9. ronnie jones

    thanks for the help ,my granddaughter brought seeds home from school said here papaw plant these seeds for me so here i am thank you.

  10. Jeff

    How do you take care of them in the winter? I have a beautiful plant that has not produced flowers but looks great and I would like it to last for the winter…any advice? If it produced flowers should I remove them to prevent fruit so it stays leafy and green?

  11. Gail

    Have you found a source to buy seeds for pastel (aqua, pink) cotton?

  12. Richard

    Hello – I’ve been growing a cotton plant for my high school science class since April, and am wondering if the bolls will open by themselves now that I’ve brought the plant indoors, or do I have to let the plant dry out (kill it).



  13. Denise

    The bolls should open themselves

  14. Andrea

    Can you plant the seeds directly after removing them from the boll, or do you have to let them dry out first?

  15. Denise

    I would let them dry. Most seeds do better if they have a chance to rest. Denise

  16. George

    Denise, Thanks for answering Richards question. I am doing a similar project and was looking for the same information as Richard. Will the plant die before the bolls will open?

  17. Denise

    The plant shouldn’t die before the boll opens. You may need a liquid nutrient and make sure you have a warm climate and sunshine. Denise

  18. Sarah

    My family owns one of the biggest cotton gins in the Texas panhandle. My dad not only grows acres of coton, but I grow cotton “trees” indoors. This is an awesome plant to learn about, for it makes our clothes to you name it. The cotton”plant” is actually a tree, if you pick it regularly when it makes bolls it will be a tree in a few years. Quite interesting, if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them!

  19. Bonnie Leonard

    What size pot do you use to grow cotton in doors?

  20. Denise

    I usually like a 9 to 12 inch pot. In a twelve in I usually grow a low growing herb or flower, just for color.

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