Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials
Grow Plenty of Perennials from Seed (page 2 of 3)
by Susan Littlefield
Three Ways for Starting from Seed
There are three different ways you can grow the perennials listed above from seed. The actual seed sowing technique is pretty much the same; it's the timing that varies. All are good strategies for making new plants for your garden. Pick the one that's most convenient for you or try them all!
Sow seeds directly in the garden in spring to early summer. This is probably the easiest method. Prepare a seedbed by mixing in organic material and raking the bed smooth. Sow plants where they are to grow or make a nursery bed for germinating seeds and growing plants on until they are large enough to move to their permanent location. (Lupines don't like to be moved, so it's best to sow them in their desired garden spot.)
Check the seed packet for specific information on germination needs. For example, seeds of blanket flower, columbine and Shasta daisy need light to germinate, so they should only be pressed into the surface of the soil, not covered. Lupines have a hard seed coat and germinate better if they are soaked in warm water for 24 hours or have their seed coat nicked before planting.
Keep the seed bed moist until the seeds begin to sprout, then thin according to the seed packet directions when seedlings are a couple of inches tall. If you started plants in a nursery bed, move them to their permanent location when they are 4-5 inches tall. If you planted in early spring, you may get blooms the first year from many of these plants.
Sow seeds early indoors. Sow seeds in flats or individual pots 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. (Sow lupine seeds in peat pots so you won't disturb their roots when you plant the seedlings in the garden.) Move seedlings in flats to individual pots as they grow; keep plants under lights or in a sunny southern window. When the danger of frost is past, harden off seedlings and plant them outside.
Starting seeds early indoors will not only give you bigger plants to set out in the garden, but will increase your chances of getting flowers the first season.
Sow seeds in midsummer for bloom the following year. July is a time when gardeners get a break from spring's many garden chores and activities. Why not take advantage of that lull and start some perennial flower seeds? You can either direct seed in a nursery bed or start seeds in pots of flats as directed for indoor sowing. Only set the containers in a partially shaded spot outdoors- an empty cold frame with the top removed and covered a section of snow fence for shade works well. Keep the containers in a cold frame for the winter or mulch young plants in a nursery bed to protect them over the winter. Next spring you'll have good sized plants that will be ready to start blooming when you set them in their permanent location in the garden.