Flowers To Grow From Seed

Flowers To Grow From Seed

In the Flowers From Seed Happy Hour on the 10th of March, we talked about some annuals that are worth growing from seed. Some of these are hard to find as plants, and some don’t transplant well so they need to sown directly where they are to grow in the ground. I promised those attending that I’d post the list here, with tips for success. You can download that list and bring it into the store; in the near future the recording of this Zoom presentation will be available on our Events page.

At the end of the Happy Hour there wasn’t time to answer all of the questions, so the ones we didn’t get to are answered here.

Q. I’m new at starting seeds but I did start the pepper plants. Most have germinated after 15 days but some have not. I feel like they are getting tall looking for more light. I don’t have lights 🙁 and just depending on window light. Should I give up on any further indoor seed starts.

A. Do you have them in the sunniest window you have, or in front of a south-facing sliding glass door? That’s the best lighting. You can also buy single gro-light bulbs, and put one in a desk lamp or other fixture that you already have, and position that very close to those peppers, leaving it on until 9 or 10 PM. If you want to start more things from seed, wait until early May. The days are longer then, and you’ll even be able to put the plants into real sunlight during the days and bring them in at night. (Note – do this gradually, starting with just a 20 minute time in the real sun, and work up to a few hours so that your tender seedlings don’t get burned.

Q. Last year I had 6-8 large flower pots on my front door steps, filled with pansies (purple, blues, and white coloured) – however, they were eaten by rabbits. To stop them from eating the pansies, I put pointy cactuses flower pots next to the pansies to keep them from being eaten. Is that a good idea? Plus, what should I do for this year’s bloom?

A. Those pointy cacti were an inspired solution! You can also try spraying ornamental plants with Plantskydd – it’s a very long lasting and effective rabbit repellant. Get the liquid and spray it right on the plants. (It’s blood based and can’t be used on edibles.) You could also invert other pots and then place the planted containers on top of those, making the pots too high for the bunnies to get to. (They’d have to be about 3 feet up – rabbits can stretch up at least 2 feet when motivated.)

Q. I want to rearrange and edit a garden bed. When is the best time to do that?

A. I assume that you’re wanting to rearrange perennials and/or shrubs. Late March and early April are the perfect time to get this done.

Q. What is the best way to grow wild flowers from seed?

A. If you have an area that is currently bare soil, rake it lightly and scatter the seeds according to the directions on the package. Some might advise covering the seeds lightly and others need light to germinate. In order to space out the seeds, many people combine the seeds into a bucket of compost and mix well, then scatter the compost that contains the seed over the area. This has the added benefit of keeping the seeds a bit more moist while they germinate. Water them in well immediately so the critters are less likely to eat them. If you don’t have an area of bare soil, you’ll need to create one by removing the plants that are there now.

Q. How early should I start perennial seeds under lights, and how long should the lights be on?

A. Perennial seeds can be sown in March. All seedlings under fluorescent or tube gro-lights should have the lights on for 14 hours a day. You want the seedlings convinced that it’s late June!

Nicotiana sylvestris – a tall, white annual. Fragrant, attractive to hummingbirds. Start seeds indoors in late-April or early May. Transplant outside in late May. Like other Nicotiana varieties, this can self-seed in future years.
Rudbeckia hirta – a native black-eyed Susan. Good cut flower and pollinator support plant. Self-sowing in the garden if you don’t mulch.
Centaurea cyanus – aka bachelor’s buttons. Blue flowers with a wildflower look. Grow these in and among other plants because they don’t flower all summer. Drought tolerant, a bee favorite, edible. Sow directly into the soil in mid-May. Good to combine with other self-seeders.
Zinnia elegans – Every garden should have some zinnias. Either start indoors in early May (don’t start too early!) or directly in the ground in late May. As soon as you plant in the garden, or as soon as the seeds germinate outside, spray with rabbit repellant. Dust with diatomaceous earth for earwigs and slugs when tiny. Cut flowers frequently to encourage more to form.
Lathyrus odoratus – aka sweet peas. These are cool-weather plants, so don’t expect them to flower all summer. Once the heat of July hits, they close up shop. Soak seeds overnight before planting. Plant in late April or early May directly outside – don’t start these indoors.
Tropaeolum majus – aka nasturtiums. Look for the trailing or climbing varieties you want more leaves and flowers to eat. Smaller varieties are fine in containers. The trailing will scramble over the ground or up fencing etc. Plant seeds directly in the ground. Don’t stress if they get some aphids.
Cosmos sulphureus – Bright Lights cosmos – a favorite of bees and butterflies. Self-seeds prolifically. Start indoors in early May or put seeds directly in the ground at the same time. Grow in full sun, well-drained soil.
Helianthus annuus – aka sunflowers. Buy the seed for the size you want to grow. Plant them either indoors in the second week of May, or outdoors at the end of May. Spray with liquid rabbit or deer repellant as they grow if these critters are a problem in your garden. Don’t start seed too early.
Dahlia pinnata – Dahlia blend. These flowers attract bees, are great for cutting, and are varied in colors so you’ll be constantly entertained and surprised. Plant the seeds indoors in late April or early May.
Borago officinalis – aka borage. This herb is good for attracting bees to the garden and the flowers are edible. Use them in salads or as garnishes on drinks. Plant the seeds in full sun around the end of May. Borage often self-seeds.
Verbena bonariensis – aka Brazilian vervain…although I don’t know anyone who actually calls it anything but Verbena bonariensis. So get with the scientific name and grow this amazing self-seeding annual. Start the seeds in pots outside in March so they have some cold time. Once you get it going, it will plant itself. Butterflies love this in the fall. Great cut flower!
Ipomoea alba – aka moonflower. If you need lots of fast, annual vine growth for privacy, this is the one for you. Soak the seeds overnight in water before planting the next day. Grow in sun – plant seeds indoors in early May (no sooner!) or outside at the end of May. These vines grow lots of green before flowering at the end of the summer. Fragrant, night-flowering.
Eschscholzia californica – aka California poppies. A low-growing, early summer flowering annual that you should plant directly outside by sprinkling the seeds directly on the ground. Drought tolerant, self-sowing. Grows in gravel and sandy soil. Good on slopes.
Papaver somniferum – bread seed poppy. Sprinkle the seeds on bare ground in fall or early spring. Learn to recognize the new seedlings in May. Don’t mulch if you want these to self-sow…they need light to germinate. Remove old plants in late-July. Save seeds before pulling and scatter them in fall.
Botanical interest Edible Beauties Mix. Sow these directly in the garden or in a large container in mid to late May. Keep the soil moist while they are germinating.

The next Friday Happy Hour will be about growing vegetables in small spaces. You can register here.

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