December 29, 2015 by admin|
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Growing flowers from seed can be a difficult task for beginning gardeners. Seeds and seedlings are delicate, and the wrong conditions can destroy them fairly easily. In order to achieve the best possible result, plant your seeds indoors into a small, sterile container using professionally packaged potting soil. Follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet and provide plenty of light and water to your growing seedlings. Once the flowers have developed strong enough roots, transplant them into your garden.
1. Choose a container. There are a variety of inexpensive options available. Germinating flats are cheap and specifically created for the purpose of germinating seeds. Plastic drinking cups and recycled egg cartons are other inexpensive options, however. Small flower pots will also work.
2. Make sure your container provides enough room for your seeds to develop. The best containers are 4 or more inches deep. This allows the flower’s root system to develop.
3. Sterilize the container. If using an old plastic pot or tray, soak it in a solution containing one part bleach and nine parts water, and rinse thoroughly. If using a new container, sterilization may not be necessary.
4. Provide adequate drainage. Most plastic pots and germination trays already have holes in the bottom for water to drain out. If using a plastic cup, egg carton, or another container without any holes, punch a small hole in the bottom of the container before filling it with soil.
5. Start your seeds indoors 4 to 8 weeks before you plan on transferring them to your outdoor garden. Typically, this means starting them 4 to 8 weeks before the expected last frost. Doing so gives your seedlings plenty of time to develop prior to the transfer, making them strong enough to withstand winds, insects, and other pests.
6. Select your soil. Peat moss pellets work well with germination trays, but a good soil might be necessary if using a larger container. Purchase a pre-packaged soil from a garden center to ensure a high-quality “sterile” mix. Many stores even sell special “seed starting” blends.
7. Fill your container three-quarters full with your selected soil. Do not pack the soil down. Instead, allow it to remain loose.
8. Moisten the soil before adding the seeds. Add enough water to get a spongy wet consistency, but do not completely saturate the soil.
9. Follow the instructions on your seed packet to plant the seeds. Some flowers require you to cover the seeds with up to an inch of soil, while other small seeds may only need to be sprinkled on the surface of the soil. Do not pack soil on top of the seeds, however, since doing so will smother them and make it difficult for sprouts to break through.
10. Drop two or three seeds into each container. Space them 1â„4 inch (0.6 cm) apart to prevent them from interfering with each other if more than one seed grows.
11. Water again. Only add a small sprinkle of water to moisten the seeds and the new soil. Do not drown your seeds.
12. Cover your container. If using a germination tray, it likely came with a clear plastic cover. Otherwise, use clear plastic wrap. The cover prevents your seeds from drying out, but it must be clear to allow adequate sunlight through.
13. Place the planted seeds in a draft-free location. The location should also be well-ventilated, however. If you want to prevent the air from getting too stagnant, run an electric fan in the same room near the seeds, but do not point it directly at the container. Only run the fan for a few minutes at a time.
14. Follow the instructions on the back of the packet regarding temperature and sunlight. Typically, you should place the seeds near a window but not in direct sunlight.
15. Supplement sunlight if necessary. Some seedlings need up to 16 hours of light a day in order to develop. If so, shine a fluorescent light a few inches above the tallest leaves during the hours when no sunlight is available.
16. Remove the covering once the seedlings show two complete sets of leaves. Relocate the seedlings to a location with better sunlight.
17. Rotate the container every two or three days. This prevents the seedlings from bending in any one direction to reach the light.
18. Water your seedlings with gentle spritzing instead of heavy drops or streams of water. Use a spray bottle if possible. Gentle watering prevents damage to delicate, developing root systems.
19. Test the soil with your finger to determine whether or not it needs watering. If you press your finger into the soil and feel moisture, you may want to wait before watering again. Keep the soil moist but not soaked.
20. Add fertilizer once your seedling develops a few leaves, if desired. Use a mild fertilizer. If possible, purchase one designed for young shoots.
21. Harden seedlings before transplanting them. Expose them to direct sunlight and outdoor air for a few days in their current containers. Keep them moist and protect them from the wind. Bring the plants in at night, especially if the nights are still cold.
22. Dig a hole in your garden twice as deep as the pot. Refill the hole to the same depth as your pot or container using loose soil. The purpose of digging out the soil and refilling it is to ensure that the soil remains loose enough for your flower’s roots to adapt.
23. Add water inside the hole. You don’t want to completely saturate the hole, but you should add enough water so the soil is a bit spongy.
24. Turn the pot with the flower in it on its side. Tap on the bottom and sides lightly until you can remove the soil from its container without forcing it.
25. Place the plant into the hole. The root structure should be solid enough that the plant retains the shape of the container it was in.
26. Hold the plant down with one hand and use your other hand to fill in the rest of the hole with dirt. Make sure that your plant is firmly seated, but do not pack the soil tightly.
27. Add more water. Do not soak the flower, but make sure that it is moist.