Flowers, On Your Mark!

February 23, 2010

This year I’ve decided to try my hand at starting flowers from seed.  Over the last few years, I’ve collected and bought seeds then never really tried to grow them.  I think my main problem is that some, like impatiens and lavendar, take so long to germinate and other require special care like darkness, soaking and chilling.  Since I’m coming up to 11 weeks before my last spring frost, I’ve got lots of time to sow even the longest-germinating seeds.  My problem is that there seems to be a variety of start dates for a particular seed.

Somewhere online I read that alyssum should be started indoors 8 – 12 weeks before the last frost and then I read that it was 4 – 6 weeks somewhere else.  I looked around and couldn’t find a definitive guide to start dates for flowers.  Looking on the back of the package didn’t really help either as some companies put more information than others.  Then I wondered if there were different rules for a short growing season like I have here in my Canadian garden.

Checking my myriad of gardening books (mostly on vegetables, unfortunately) I found my Seed Sowing and Saving book by Carole B. Turner.  I really recommend this book if you’re just getting started in learning how to sow and save your own seeds.  It covers over 100 vegetable, herb and flower seeds and really breaks down the special treatments some seeds need to germinate.  It gives you instructions on when/how to sow the seed indoors and outdoors, special considerations, hints for success and what to do to harvest and save seed.

It’s the best book I’ve got on how to start plants from seed, however, it doesn’t cover all types of plants.  Anybody got a more complete resource?

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5 Responses to “Flowers, On Your Mark!”


  1. I think most alyssum grows pretty quickly. I have been known to just toss the seed around in the garden; a few weeks later, there are leaves… and not much longer after that, flowers.


  2. Alyssum successfully self sows in my garden so I bet it’s a candidate for wintersowing. When it starts early in spring, it flowers a bit later than nursery started stock. When I started these indoors by seed (if I remember correctly), I think I did 6 weeks before last frost.

  3. Tina Says:

    I agree with Ottawa Gardener – Have you never heard of Winter Sowing?
    http://www.wintersown.org
    There is also a WS forum on gardenweb, and many posts on my blog if you’d like more info.
    It’s the only way I’ve ever had success with lavender.
    (and a ton of other things!)

    • Kathy Says:

      I did do wintersowing two years ago and I’m going to give it another shot this year. I really like the root growth on wintersown plants.

  4. Lizz Says:

    http://www.green-seeds.com/pdf/seed_starters.pdf

    Saved to my hd yesterday. Seems pretty detailed.

    Looking forward to your tomato sale: I am still trying to make up my mind…..


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