Flash back to 2010 or 2011 and you’re looking at the last time I attempted to grow flowers from seeds indoors. I’m not sure what happened, but I gave up soon after that. It might have been the leggy seedlings sprung from a poorly lit window or it might have been seedlings that failed to take after a rushed hardening off process. Or was it the abundance of plants and a lack of garden space to accommodate?
I’m really not sure. Probably a combination of all of those things, but I figure it’s been about 5 or 6 years so I’m going to try it again, hopefully the right way. Careful planning, artificial light to make up for the absence of natural sunlight, and quality seeds to take root and see this whole thing through.
First of all, you may or not be asking, why seeds? If you read the post here, my goal for 2016 is to grow more flower and foliage varieties for bouquet making (and maybe even bouquet selling!). Some of the items I want to grow are only available in seed form (instead of plants). Instead of waiting until mid-May to buy plants at a higher price, I’m opting for seeds instead. I’m also ready for the challenge.
This is going to be an experiment and I’d like to track my progress right here. We’ll figure out what things worked and what may need to be changed next time. If you have any advice, I want to hear from you!
As of today, here’s what I’ve completed so far on this starting-from-seed journey:
- Bought and received all of the seeds I want to grow
- I’ve recorded each variety in a spiral notebook, noting when the seed needs to be planted, and making comment if the seed should be directly sowed outside rather than indoors
- I’ve purchased an indoor kit which includes grow lights
- My husband Brent found the seed trays I bought 5 years ago so that we could re-use them
- Purchased a bag of organic seed-starting soil (one bag for now, MUCH more will be needed later)
Based on the zone for Southeast Michigan (5b, 6a in some areas), our last frost date typically falls around early to mid-May (…yeah, I’m deviating from what the chart says for Southeastern Michigan). This is an average, don’t place all your bets on this. Several years ago we experienced a warm-up around mid-May, with temps in the 70s. Everyone flocked to area garden centers to buy plants and flowers, myself included. We spent a whole sunny weekend planting the items we bought. A few days later, there was a frost warning. We grabbed burlap and old sheets to cover our newly purchased investments. It worked, but it was a gamble.
Learn your plant hardiness zone by going here and entering your zip code.
Find your average last spring frost date by tapping on your state here.
Based on mid-May being my last frost date , I started the following seeds indoors:
- Eryngium ‘White Glitter’ and ‘Blue Glitter’, planted on 2/7
- These varieties take 7-10 days to germinate and require light
- Since they prefer sandy soil, I mixed in some sand with the seed starting soil (no exact measurements, just eyed it) before placing the soil in the kits
- On day 6, many seeds have sprouted
- Day 7, one seedling already has two leaves!
- Day 9, multiple have two leaves!
- Dusty Miller ‘New Look’, planted on 2/13
- The package noted that the seeds are slow to start so we’ll give them two weeks and see what happens
I’m paying close attention to the directions listed on the packets. The seeds have been so small that instead of creating a hole in the dirt for each seed, I’ve just been placing the seed on top of the dirt and lightly covering it with more soil.
One tip I found useful was mixing the seed starting soil with water to moisten it, before transferring to the trays.
The seed trays are housed on the grow kit stand in front of south facing windows. Because eryngium requires light to germinate, we’ve left the grow lights on for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. So far things seem to be taking off pretty good, especially with the ‘Blue Glitter’ variety.
More to come!