Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garden Fun & Seeds to Start in Fall

Do you like to plant flowers?

I do! A lot. 

I love looking our my windows and seeing our flower beds. But it can get this year I am giving serious seed starting a go. 

Last spring I planted a few things here and there from seed not really expecting much...but to my surprise those plants did better than the purchased plants. I also am kind of a snob about having unique plants in my garden. Everyone can get pretty petunias and I enjoy them as well...but does anyone on my street have Coconut Cream Petunias? Nope...just me...well next year anyway!

Ok...back on are my flower beds in late their summer glory. Avid gardeners know that you learn things from season to season. I have learned a lot my first year of "real" gardening. But I still think I did pretty good for a beginner. Here is a quick look. 

Quick warning...this is a picture overload favorite kind!

Shady Front Flower Bed
Iceberg Rose Trees and not flourishing petunias...I need suggestions on this mixed bed of shade and sun!
One of my Iceberg Rose Trees
Sunny front flower bed complete with kid and kitty path.
Another view of the sunny front flower bed and bird bath.

Zinnia in the sunny front flower bed
Pretty Begonia in the back yard
So on to the details...

I purchased a bunch of seeds a few weeks ago from Swallow Garden Seeds as well as Park Seed Co. Both have a huge selection of annuals, perennials and vegetables. My orders arrived super quickly and in clearly marked packaging.  I sadly do not have a green house, so I am going to be using a garage storage shelf and cheap shop lights for my seedlings. From what I have read that works great and sometimes better than natural light. Hopefully one day I will have a green house...for now this should work. BTW I am looking at starting almost 1000 seedlings! EEK! Anyone close to me want to plant swap in the spring?

My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

I have been working on plans on what to plant and when. 

To my surprise I have found several plants that do better when planted at the end of summer or early fall and often if you do this with the perennial seeds you get first year blooms! Bonus!  

I am in a zone 9 so our winters pretty mild and we need to chill plants, seeds and bulbs if we want a good show of blooms. If you are in zone 7 or cooler then you may not have to chill.  

Feel free to email me about specific zones and I would be happy to help out.

You can check out this USDA Hardiness Zone as well. 

Here are some pictures and specifics of the plants that I am going to work with this year. 

Pictures and information from here and here.

Astilbe -Sow seeds in cell packs or flats, press into soil but do not cover. Needs light to germinate. Kept at 65-70° F. germination almost always occurs within 4-5 weeks. If not, put container inside a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for 4 weeks. Remove and germinate at 65-70° F. Comments: Part sun to light shade. Prefers rich, moist soils. Cut stems when plumes are half open for excellent cut flowers. Deer and rabbit resistant. Attracts butterflies. 
Shasta Daisy-Sow in cell packs or flats, press into soil but do not cover. Needs light to germinate. Kept at 70° F., germination averages 14-21 days. Can direct sow (barely cover) in fall or spring, in groups of 3-4 seeds spaced 12-24 inches apart. Thin to the strongest plant.

Delphinium-Sow seeds in cell packs or flats, press into soil and fully cover. Darkness aids germination. Kept at 55° F., germination is in 14-35 days. Comments: Germination rate can be improved (if prior to sowing) the seeds are placed in a zip top bag with a small amount of moist growing media (or a moist paper towel) and placed into the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Larkspur-Spread seed on an evenly moist paper towel fold and put inside a zip-lock bag and place in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Remove and immediately sow seeds in rows in prepared seed beds, covering lightly. Thin to 10-18 inches apart. Comments: Sow Larkspur from fall to early spring. Seeds can be started in small individual containers if not allowed to become root bound, and transplanted with care. Easy to germinate in cool (55° F. or below) soil.

Lisanthus -Sow seed in cell packs or flats, use a sterilized soil-less mix. Press into soil, do not cover. Kept at 70-80° F., germination is in 10-20 days. When 4-5 leaves have developed, transplant into the garden 6-8 inches apart. Pinch back plants to the third node to encourage bushy growth. Direct sowing is not recommended.
Comments: Full sun or part shade, light shade in hottest climates. Moderate water; give regular moisture early in the season, avoid over-watering as plants become established. Does not like acid soil, does like regular feeding. Cut flowers last 1-2 weeks. Attracts bees.
Madonna Snowdrop Anemone- Sow seeds in cell packs or peat pots, press into soil and barely cover. Kept at 60-65° F.,
germination usually occurs within 4-5 weeks. If not, put container inside a zip-lock bag and place in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Remove container and return to 60-65° F. to germinate. Comments: Part sun, afternoon shade. Madonna tolerates light shade in any zone. Regular to ample moisture, tolerates wet soils. Flowers are excellent for cutting. Plants spread by underground stolons. Deer and rabbit resistant, attracts butterflies.
Nigella - Direct sow into prepared seed beds that have been cleared of weeds and have had the top 1 inch of soil loosened. Rake seed in lightly.Keep moist.
Comments: Full or part sun. Average to little water. Tolerates a wide variety of soils with good drainage. Comes into bloom quickly. Make successive sowings 4 weeks apart (until plants begin to self-sow) to ensure a continuous supply. Flowers are excellent for cutting, horned seed capsules are highly decorative in dried arrangements. Deer resistant.
Press into soil by walking over area.

 Poppy-Sow seeds in peat pots or cell packs, press into soil but do not cover. Needs light to germinate. Kept at 65° F., germination is in 14-21 days. Can direct sow, onto ground that has had the top one inch of soil loosened. Rake seed in, press into soil by walking over the area. Thin to 12 inches apart
Primrose- Sow seed in cell packs or flats, press into soil but do not cover. Needs light to germinate. Kept at 60-65° F., germination is in 21-30 days. Transplant into the garden 8-12 inches apart. Comments:Part sun in most climates, full sun in coolest areas. Likes moist, rich, well-drained soil. Superb in containers.

Sweet Pea-Soak seeds in water 24 hours prior to sowing. Then sow in cell packs, 2-3 seeds per cell. Needs darkness to germinate. Cover with newspaper and keep out of direct sun until seedlings appear. May be direct sown into the garden, 1/4-1/2 inch deep. Thin to 6-12 inches apart.

Viola-Sow in cell packs or flats, press into soil and barely cover. Needs darkness to germinate. Cover flat with newspaper and keep out of direct sun. Kept at 65- 70° F., germination is in 14-21 days.9-12 inches apart. Transplant into the garden

One last note...a lot of these are perennial (they come back year after year) or annuals that self sew like mad men. So yes this is quite a bit of work the first season but after this initial start up you will have a ton of plants with little work. 

Hope this inspires you to get to planting! 


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  1. Gorgeous! I let many of my blooms go to seed & if they come up in the garden next year, i just move them where i want them! I even had a red patunia surface this year (very strange that this happened) because for us the patunia is an annual - so i collected seeds this year from my pots in hopes of planting some from seed next spring! So exciting! xoox, tracie

  2. ps - please link your post to Cottage Flora Thursday's for more gardeners to see! xoox

  3. Ha! just seeing you posted! thanks for linking up! oxox, tracie

  4. Hi!

    Just found your blog and I love your gardens, so beautiful! Hope you have a great afternoon!


  5. I started plants under lights for years... generally 5-6 thousand annuals each season. This always worked great, although i do prefer my hoop house installed three seasons ago. If things need an earlier start, I still use the lights for that. While the hoop house produces bushier plants more quickly, the lights do an excellent job as well. Larry

  6. Lovely pics! Thanks for sharing at Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays.


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