Sunday, July 4, 2010


Midsummer is a great time to SOW THE SEEDS of many perennials.  In fact, the reason midsummer is so good is because some seeds need to be sown as soon as they are ripe--they dry out quickly, and so to ensure germination, they must be sown.  Another reason is because this gives the new seedlings a good chance to start, reach a size that they can make it through the winter, and then you'll have bigger, sturdier plants the following spring.  Right now I have been saving the seed of the lupine, delphinium and columbine.  I have found that the bleeding heart are a little trickier to start.  You need to keep in mind, however, that sowing seeds doesn't always give you the desired results--some plants aren't true to their parent plant--like columbine and hollyhock.   Some will be close, though.  Others can be very different.  If you want an exact duplicate of your plants, you can either take a cutting  or division of your plant.  Seeds that are "true to seed" will usually tell you in the information about the plant.  When you scatter the seed, don't sow too thickly; seedlings that are too crowded won't be as healthy or strong as those that are farther apart.  Some seeds need light to germinate, like lupine, columbine, bells of Ireland, and hollyhock. Make sure they have a good seed-to-soil contact.  Others need to have a thin layer of soil over them, as darkness is necessary for germination, like delphinium, phlox or larkspur.  For very small seeds, just press lightly into the soil.  I prefer to sow my seeds for hardy perennials outdoors.  I didn't have much luck with indoor sowing.  I usually mark the spot where I sprinkle seeds, and natural rainfall, or soaker hose watering will usually take care of them, but keep an eye on them, sometimes extra watering is needed in the first weeks.  Some perennials will germinate a just a few weeks, like hollyhock; others may take months before they appear, as in the bells of Ireland.  When they have developed their first pair of true leaves (all seedlings will start with a pair of "seed leaves"),  they can be transplanted where you want them.  I usually put them in small peat pots, which makes it much easier to water and keep them viable.   I transplant on cool, cloudy days, or even when it's raining, is best.    I save my seed that I'm not using in marked envelopes in the refrigerator.  I have found the seed can germinate up to  even a year, although I recommend planting the seed right away for best results.  Last year I sowed lupine, forget-me-nots, and love-in-a-mist seeds.  I think every one germinated--I had millions of seedlings!! I gave hundreds away, and still have some--so if you're interested, please let me know!  I have just three seedlings from my bleeding heart--they seem harder to germinate.  The love-in-a-mist was very plentiful!!!  I've have to thin  it out considerably.  At any rate, sowing seed is one of the funnest things to do in your gardens.  Any unwanted seedlings are easy to remove, or transplant, and it saves you money, but best of all, it gives you great pleasure in growing something from seed!  If you haven't tried sowing seeds, I hope  you will try--I know you'll be pleasantly surprised!
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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