The annual bedding plants `Dazzler Rose Star' impatiens (Impatiens wallerana), `Cooler Blush' vinca (Catharanthus roseus), `Orbit Cardinal' geranium (Pelargonium × hotorum), `Janie Bright Yellow' marigold (Tagetes patula) and `Bingo Azure' pansy (Viola tricolor) were grown on germination papers treated with deionized water (DI), 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 (ppm) humic acid (HA) or nutrient control (NC) solutions. Seedlings grown on HA-treated germination papers had higher dry root weights than those grown on DI or NC-treated germination papers. Except for impatiens, seedlings germinated on HA-treated germination papers had higher lateral root numbers and higher total lateral root lengths than those grown on DI and NC-treated germination papers. Impatiens grown on NC-treated germination papers had higher lateral root numbers than those grown on DI or HA-treated germination papers. Overall, lateral root numbers for impatiens were higher for seedlings germinated on HA-treated papers than DI or NC-treated papers and highest lateral root numbers occurred on those impatiens germinated on papers treated with 5000 mg·L-1 HA. Except for geranium, seedlings grown in HA-amended sphagnum-peat-based substrates had similar dry root and dry shoot weights as those grown in unamended substrates. Geranium seedlings grown in HA-amended sphagnum peat-based substrates had significantly higher dry root weights than those grown in unamended substrates. However, dry shoot weights of geranium grown in HA-amended sphagnum peat-based substrates were similar to those grown in unamended substrates.