Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tips on Sowing Flower Seeds

Tips on Sowing Flower Seeds

Go to your local garden store, look through a garden catalog, or check out the online store and you will see thousands of flower seeds. They seem to beg you to buy them and plant them in your garden. But wait. Before you put it into your shopping cart or fill out the order blank, there are some things you need to ask yourself first. 

Is the plant hardy in my growing zone? Will they grow in my area? Are they annuals, perennials, or biennials? Are the plants short, or tall, and will they need to support? Do they grow in full sun, deep shade, partial sun or shade with some sun. What kind of soil do the plants need to grow in and what is the pH level? The list is almost endless. By knowing these answers to these questions. you can choose the plants that will thrive in a particular area. All this information is on the back of the seed packet.
Preparing the Flower Bed

Once you have chosen the seeds you want to grow, you'll need to prepare the flower bed. Most flower seeds are  planted in the spring. Read the back of the seed package to find out the best month to plant. Some flower seeds cannot be planted until after all danger of frost is past.  
Use a garden fork or tiller to break up the soil. It never hurts to amend the soil with 2 to 4 inches of organic compost. This helps to increase the drainage, as it loosens the soil and provides nutrients that your plants will need to grow healthy. 

Rake through the soil to break up the clods and to level the garden area. Pick up any rocks, sticks, or hard dirt clods that your rake brings to the surface. Try to make the garden level because unlevel soil allows the water to run away from the plants or collect in a pool around the plant’s stem, causing the plants to rot. If possible, allow the newly dig bed to lay idle for at least a week. If you need or want to plant right away, lay a board over the planting area, and walk across it. This will compact the soil and collapses air pockets.  

Marking the Rows
It is often a good idea to mark the row by placing a stick at the beginning of the row and another stick at the end of the row. For straight rows, connect the sticks with a string or twine and use this as a guide. To keep track of the flower type you are planting, write the plants name on a plastic marker or popsicle stick with a waterproof marker. Insert this in the row.  

Sowing Tiny Seeds and Large Seeds
Some seeds are tiny, and it is hard to see where they fall on the soil. I like to mix my seeds with two to four cups of sand. This provides a visual, so you can easily see the areas you've already covered. It also keeps you from sowing the seeds in a puddle. Planting big seeds are easier. Place the seeds on top of the soil spacing them according to the package directions. With your finger, push the seed into the soil to the depth indicated on your package. The only downside to planting the seeds at the required spacing is, not every seed will germinate. Therefore, there may be a gap between plants.

Cover the seeds according to package directions. If the seeds are small, just barely cover them with a fine layer of soil. Firm the soil with your hands to ensure that the seed coat is in firm contact with the soil. 

Gently water the seeds using the misting nozzle of your hose. You can also use a sprinkler head watering can. It is vital that you keep the seed bed moist until the seeds germinate. Therefore, it is a good idea to check the seedbed several times during the day and water as needed. The soil dries out fast when the wind is blowing and/or it is overly hot.  

Pull any weeds that you find growing. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between weeds and flowers. If you check the back of the seed package, they usually have a drawing of what the flower seedlings look like. 

By preparing the soil, sowing the seeds to the right depth, spacing the plants out for proper air circulation, and keeping the bed moist, you should have great success at growing flowers from seed.

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