The best time to start planting flower seeds varies depending on the type of flower. You have the option of starting seeds indoors to get a jump on your spring growing time or planting the seeds directly into the garden in the spring or fall. It is important to read the seed packets and know about the flowers you choose to plant in your garden. This will help you determine when to start planting flower seeds in your area.
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You can get a jump on planting annual and perennial flower seeds by sowing them indoors in late winter. The germination rate in seeds varies, so plan ahead and read the seed packet to determine the best time to plant. Flower seeds require four to 12 weeks of growth before they are ready to plant outdoors. You want the seedlings to be 3 to 4 inches tall so they are hardy enough to transplant into an outdoor garden. Seeds that take seven to 10 days for germination will be ready to transplant in approximately 10 weeks.
Some annual and perennial seeds grow best when planted directly into the garden in early spring. Read the seed packet closely to verify the variety will germinate in cool soil temperatures. Plant these seeds once the soil begins to warm, for best results with germination. Seeds that require cold stratification will have a low germination rate when planted in spring.
Many perennial seeds require a cold stratification process to stimulate germination in the spring. Use a natural method of cold stratification by removing the seed pods from the plants once they wither in the fall. Evenly sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the garden and cover them with approximately 1/4 inch of soil over top to prevent loss from wind or birds. This will save you time in the spring by avoiding the process of cold stratifying and seeding them indoors.
Removing seedpods from your perennial plants will allow you to grow additional plants at a lower cost than buying them. Watch the plants closely and remove the pods once they begin to dry so you know the seeds are mature. It is best to open the pods and let them dry if you do not plan to sow them in the garden right away. Some perennial plants produce seeds pods early in the growing season, while others do not go to seed until fall.
Transplant your seedlings into an outdoor garden once there is no longer a risk of frost. Many seed varieties planted directly into the garden bed will not have problems with an unexpected spring frost.
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- Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Starting Seeds Indoors; 2008
- Ohio State University Extension; Growing Cucumbers, Pepper, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers; Pamela J. Bennett
- North Carolina State University; Starting Plants from Seed; Erv Evans and Frank A. Blazich; January 1999
- "Wisconsin Master Gardener Manual"; Robert J. Tomesh, Ph.D., et al.; September 2001