The Delicious Dessert The Internet Loves As A Seed Starter (And Why You Should Avoid It)

The internet is filled with fun hacks. Some can make our lives easier, while others provide no value in reality and are just clickbait. But when internet trends catch on, it's typically hard to find out which ones work and which ones don't. We'll save you all the guesswork when it comes to one: using ice cream cones in the garden. 

This hack claims that you can use ice cream cones to start seedlings that can be easily transported into the garden by planting them directly in the ground. All you do is fill your cone with some soil and place your seeds in the dirt. Then, cover up with some additional earth and water your cone. That last step should be a total giveaway of what happens next.

We've all seen what happens when we leave ice cream in a cone for too long: It gets soggy and its structure fails. That's exactly what happens when you fill cones with packed wet soil — and if you leave these starchy, wet clumps lying around, they will grow mold, which makes this hack a fail.

How the internet fell in love with this hack

If you Google "ice cream cone seedling starter," you'll find countless videos, blogs, and social media posts about this trick. Many of them claim that it's a convenient way to start your seedlings and plant them in the soil.

Some blogs report having success by only misting the seedlings and then placing them in the sun so that the soil dries. This act suggests that the seedlings should be misted regularly to keep the soil moist. While this method may offer less moisture, it's likely that your cone will still rot. You might also find that the content pieces that claim to have success with this hack don't actually show the growth of seedlings in steps from the beginning, middle, and end. So, you can't confirm if they were actually successful. 

Others just show them planting the moldy cones directly into the soil, but this can cause problems in the long run. Garden Myths reports that the hack could have been started by a picture that circulated on the internet of a concrete cast pot made to look like an ice cream cone that had clovers growing out of it.

Why this hack doesn't work

In order to properly grow, seedlings need to be in soil that is steadily moist. Ice cream cones are mostly made up of flour and water before being baked. Thus, if you add more water, the cone is going to revert back to a doughy mess. Needless to say, this moisture causes your cone to collapse — and pretty quickly, too.

Hyannis Country Garden reported that its cones lost shape and toppled over in their container after just one hour. Mold began to grow by the end of the week; the seedlings did not. Meanwhile, Garden Myths found that though its seedlings grew, the cones and soil were completely overwhelmed by thick mold within one week. 

Mold can signal disaster for your seedlings. It can completely consume them and cause them to rot, so they don't grow. Mold can also take out a sprouted seedling by making it wilt. Seedlings can still survive if they are attacked by mold, though. You can reduce moisture levels and remove the mold with a toothpick, but that's a lot of work. You might as well save yourself the trouble and skip the ice cream cone seedling starter hack altogether.