Seeds are amazing. Give them soil, water and sunshine, and they’ll fill your garden with colorful flowers. Because seeds cost less than bedding plants, they’re great for filling lots of space, and for gardeners on a budget.
Remember, annual flowers make a big splash for one year only. Perennial flowers bloom year after year.
Best of all, there are lots of varieties to choose from. Your biggest challenge will be finding room to plant them all.
How to Start Flower Seeds:
- Decide how much sun your garden gets, so you’ll know whether to buy seeds for sun or shade.
- Read the seed packets to know how and when to plant.
- Find out when the last spring frost is expected in your area.
To Start Flower Seeds Indoors:
Read your packets and count backward from the date of the last expected spring frost. For example, if your packet says to plant 8 weeks before the last spring frost, which is in mid-May, start the seeds in mid-March.
- Use a seed starting kit, or buy pre-made seed starting pellets or peat pots. If you’re planting in pre-made pellets, follow the package directions. If you’re planting in peat pots, fill them with some moistened seed starting mix. Don’t start your seeds in soil from your garden. Buy a special seed starting mix.
- Plant the seeds at the depth recommended on the seed packet.
- Water the seeds by letting the peat pots soak up water from a tray, or gently water with a watering can or spray nozzle.
- Label your seeds with the name of the flower and the date you should plant outdoors.
- Cover the seeds with clear plastic or the cover from your seed starting kit. Some seeds don’t need to be covered.
- Put the seeds in a warm place and check them daily. The packet will tell you if they need light to germinate. You can use a seedling heat mat to ensure your seedlings get the heat they need.
- Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- When the seedlings sprout, uncover them and move them to a warm, bright spot. You can use grow lights to be more effective.
- Important: Harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to the weather. Begin by moving them outside to a sheltered spot for 3-4 hours. Bring them in at night. Move them outside for 2-3 more hours each day for the next 7-10 days, continuing to bring them in at night. After they’ve toughened up, plant them in the garden. Wait until after the last hard frost to transplant half-hardy flowers. Wait until after all danger of frost to transplant tender annuals and perennials.
- If you get a sudden cold snap, protect your seedlings and cover with newspaper, a tarp, sheets, or plastic row cover. Take the cover off the next morning when the temperature rises and the sun comes out.
To plant directly in your garden, follow the directions on the seed packet. Plant hardy flower seeds as soon as the ground can be worked. Plant half-hardy seeds after your last hard frost for best success. Then plant tender seeds after there’s no chance of even light frost. Save your seed packets, too.
If you don’t use a seed starting kit, you will need:
- Peat pots and seed starting mix or pre-made seed pellets
- Annual and perennial seeds
- Watering can or spray nozzle
- Optional: Grow lights
- Optional: Seedling heat mat
- Optional: Row cover or tarp
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