Wednesday, July 1, 2015

So Seedy: The Seedling Update

This winter I decided to grow all my own sun-loving annuals. It sounds challenging but it wasn't. I bought grow lights, plopped seeds into large plastic drink cups, and kept them watered. It helped that I only grew plants that were easy to grow. Plants that needed a chill period were winter-sown. By growing my own plants, I was guaranteed my garden would be free of the pesticides that are routinely given to commercially grown plants. So, how'd I do? Just fine, thank you.


Pow Wow Wildberry coneflowers

These are dwarf coneflowers that bloom the first year from seed.  They needed to be cold stratified and were slow growers but are worth the patience.


Blue dwarf bush morning glories, curly parsley, and Denver daisies.

Like regular morning glories, these little guys only bloom in the morning but are cute trailing out of pots. They were very easy to grow. The winter sown parsley is grown for the swallowtail butterflies and the Denver daisies (rudbeckia hirta) are non-stop bloomers.


I love these! Known for heat and drought tolerance, they only reach about 18 inches in height.


Peggy's Delight zinnias

I grew these from old seed but they all germinated. These are a tall, cactus flowered zinnia in a variety of soft, sherbety colors. 


Their colors range from cream and pink to orange.


Poet's Tassel (Orange Tassel Flower)

I winter sowed these and only a single plant grew. Yep, just one. Next year I'll put them under grow lights. They have tall stems with tiny orange flowers, much loved by the pollinators.


This is a combination of Irish Eyes rudbeckia with seedlings of straight species rudbeckia.


Rudbeckia hirta doesn't need any help to grow so I've decided to stop helping it. I'll scatter seeds this fall where I want seedlings and be done with it.


 Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth)

There's been a bit of weirdness with the gomphrena this year. The pink looks almost white, the white is very vigorous, the purple less vigorous, and the orange is long and rangey, flopping about like a squid. The orange needs much more water than the others, so I moved it to a slightly moist spot.



Dahlias, Persian Carpet zinnias, and Moulin Rouge zinnias

The dahlias are non-stop bloomers as are the little Persian Carpet zinnias. I grew the red zinnias after squirrels ransacked a pot of giant Indian Summer rudbeckia. I cannot resist a plant named after the Moulin Rouge. Had they been named 'Dateless and in a Turtleneck' I'd have passed them by.


Persian Carpet zinnias

These don't have the color variation advertised but so what....


'Moulin Rouge' zinnias


Cosmic Orange cosmos and Sonata cosmos (upper right - not blooming)

Bees ignore the Sonata in favor of the orange flowers on the daily. The Cosmic Orange is a heavy, cheerful bloomer.


'Pacifica' vinca

I thought these would be blooming in a variety of hot colors but they're pink, pink, pink. That's ok because I like pink but I think I'll buy these next year since they don't attract pollinators, anyway.


'Blue Monday' salvia

I thought this would have spires of dark blue flowers but only the tips are blue so I feel a bit mislead. But they were insanely easy to grow and the bees love them.


The blue pot in the middle right is full of 'Blue Monday' salvia and 'Mammoth' verbena.


'Tuscany Lavender' verbena

This is a tough, pretty plant that needs very little attention or extra water. But it was hard to convince to grow so I'm not sure if I'll grow it again. 


Tithonia 'Goldfinger'

This dwarf variety is supposed to be 3-4 feet tall but mine is already 4.5 feet tall and I doubt it's done. I've staked it to keep it from snapping in the rain and love its huge, velvety leaves.

So what didn't grow?

The campanula were duds, the angelonia refused to germinate and the sweet peas were fried by a warm spring. My much loved ammi wasn't as vigorous as last year and was then crowded out by a massive knautia. 

What about everything else?

The centranthus grew well but waited til it warmed up to do much, leaving me convinced they'd wimped out. The hyssop grew like mad as did the linaria, another plant that needs zero help to grow. The hollyhocks haven't bloomed yet but are on their way. The 'Zahara Starlight' zinnias grew well but are boring.


The dahlias bloom in a variety of colors, which is fun. Never underestimate the power of a happy surprise.

60 comments:

  1. It's always amazing how those seeds morph into flowers .You have a fabulous display of colour. I must persevere with zinnias but maybe our summers are too cool for them to thrive.

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    1. Zinnias are native to Mexico so England might be too cool and rainy for them. They love warm weather. I do love lots of color. :o)

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  2. I love growing my own plants from seed but have often had the same problem with colors not being quite as varied as advertised. Not only do you avoid neonics by growing your own, but also the growth inhibitors that many growers give to plants to keep them a manageable size.

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    1. Starting from seed is always a gamble. Growth inhibitors are such a pain. I want my plants to grow, grow, grow not sit there like a little bump.

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  3. Wow, that Tithonia is huge! I really like the rounded stairs where you grow some of your potted plants. The effect is warm and welcoming, kind of like some of the Toronto Island gardens. Very inspiring! Tee hee--I'll have to try some of the Moulin Rouge Zinnias!

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    1. To make the tithonia even bigger, it's in a huge pot so it's well over 6 ft tall when you include the pot. I do love my back steps. The dogs and I sit on the top step a lot and just enjoy the garden. I wasn't able to see a show at the Moulin Rouge when I was in Paris and I'm still bummed about it. Time to go back!

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  4. You did beautifully Tammy and started quite a lot. Somehow seed sowing feels like "real gardening". I started quite a bit too but being more north than you mine are not as advanced but they are coming along.

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    1. Seed starting is addicting! I've already started my list for next year. I also grew some plants for friends that aren't listed here.

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  5. One of the plants I grew from seed was from an envelope I forgot to label. I had a heck of a time trying to ID it even after it came up. It ended up being your tassel flower, Emilia javanica, and I was so happy. It needs deadheading every 10 minutes or so, but keeps sending up new buds. I'd be happy to send you some more seed. I have orange and cherry-red.

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    1. YES! YES! YES! I would love some!!! Thank you so much. I have one skinny plant but it's a trooper. :o)

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  6. I'm SO impressed with your success with seeds. My last experience growing seeds inside under lights was so dismal I didn't even take my seed-starter kit off the shelf this year. I did start Calendula and CA poppy seeds in the garden, only to have the raccoons run over them like an army - they were finished off by our March heatwaves. I got Nasturtiums and sunflowers to sprout from seed outside and Cerinthe major and Hairy Canary Clover (Dorycnium hirsutum) self-seeded freely this year, which I've appreciated. Centranthus, as well as Geranium incanum and pink evening primrose, are weeds here but at least they're dependable. Encouraged by your example, I WILL try starting seeds inside this winter - the raccoons can't get those before they germinate (I hope!).

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    1. My method for starting seeds is just so dang easy. I did buy heating mats to put into the trays full of seed cups and that worked well. Try again! Don't give up. I once spent a weekend on my hands and knees pulling pink evening primrose out of my garden. It's a beast! But I do love my centranthus. :o)

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  7. I love growing things from seed. It is so satisfying....less so when the snails attack the newly planted out seedlings, but I still manage to salvage most.
    The range of flowers and colour you've achieved is stunning; and you've saved so much money (as well as not using chemicals) as opposed to buying the from the nursery

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    1. Thanks! Some of the nursery seedlings of the same plants I grew were so ragged and pathetic. Most of my seedlings were really robust, which I was/am quite proud of. :o) I think many of the plants I grew would do well for you, too.

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  8. I have been trying my own seed experiments and it is quite addictive. There is something so satisfying about growing your own plants from seed. As well as being pesticide free, the selection of flowers you can grow from seed is larger and more exotic.
    Funny enough after meeting you, I hear your voice when I read your words.

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    1. Once you meet the write behind a blog, it totally changes the experience of reading their blog. I hear their voice and speech patterns as well as understand different aspects of their personality to a greater depth. Now that know how deep your art background is, I see your blog differently and can understand your artistic take on the gardens more fully. :o) This is a post written very much the way I speak. :o) I've already started my seed list for next year!

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  9. Wow... so beautiful! Bountiful flowers and lot of colors. You make me so jealous... :)

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  10. Good move staking the Tithonia, you'll be glad you did. Also, nice Zinnias! You got some varieties I haven't seen. Because I buy plants I have much less selection. I'm using 'Profusion Fire' which is short and spreading, and 'Cut and Cut Again', which is much taller. Unfortunately the bunnies have been munching on 'Cut and Cut Again', they think its name is 'Snack and Snack Again'.

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    1. I stuck the blue stake in the pot purely for decoration but as a huge storm began to rage, I ran out and tied the tithonia to it, saving it from breaking. You crack me up. :o) I'd try some rabbit fencing around the zinnias to keep the bunnies at bay. I love the Peggy's Delight so much I want to grow them every year.

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  11. Well that is a total success story, and to think you grew them from seed without a greenhouse, you have done a lot better than me! Everything looks absolutely glorious, a feast for the eyes, it's als lovely to see dogs popping up in pics! That sign saying GROW is wonderful, I was smiling away at that!xxx

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    1. I have a very cheap, tiny, collapsible greenhouse that I used to harden them off but it's in the worst spot (protected from wind but very little sun) so I mainly used it to protect them from low night time temps. Genie is the little dog in the picture and she's Scout's mom. :o)

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  12. You've inspired me. I used to grow tomatoes from seed, but since we moved north, I wasn't getting the success-rate I wanted (basically, most of them up and died). But seed catalogs are so much fun! I just need to find an area in the house where the cats won't misunderstand the purpose of the trays.
    Wow! Coneflowers from seed?!!! The plants are so expensive here. But I love them. This will go at the top of my list. And how could you NOT grow something called "Cosmic Orange Cosmos"? By the way, I'd leap at anything called " 'Dateless and in a Turtleneck." Your home-grown garden is gorgeous!

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    1. Coneflowers reseed here so easily I pull them as weeds. But I couldn't resist the little guys. If you grow them, give them a 6 week stratification. The colder the winter, the more seedlings I have. Actually, I might buy "Dateless and in a Turtleneck' and plant it next to a plant named "Italian Lover" or "Kiss Me, You Sexy Beast".

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  13. I think this is the summer my opinion of Rudbeckia hirta is going to change. I no longer care that it is short-lived; the flowers are spectacular.

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    1. After seeing euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' in all your pics, I added some to a pot and I love it! Rud. hirta is just incredible. I love love love this plant!

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  14. Love your salvia and dahlias Tammy! Last winter I stored their roots and now my dahlias start to b!oom too. Especially white ones are pretty.

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    1. I haven't had good luck with dahlias from tubers because they grow so large. These little dahlias were grown from seed but the flowers are much simpler than the spectacular blooms that come with the larger ones. But I still love them and so do the bees.

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  15. Tammy your seeds did very well....I'm so happy for you....the flowers are bright and cheerful and I love them.

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  16. Well, that is very impressive, growing all of those flowers from seed! I do the same with veg - the only seedlings I have purchased were a few perennial herbs that don't grow true from seed. I've grown a handful of flowers from seed, but I'm just sticking to a few basic ones until I have my veg areas sorted out (marigolds, alyssum, petunias, nasturtiums and that sort of thing).

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    1. Thanks! Everything I grew was easy to grow. :o) I assure you I set the bar quite low. But I didn't need anything exotic. I'm fine with the easy old standbys.

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  17. This is such a great idea! You've inspired me to try this with my annuals next winter/spring. I am not super successful growing from seed indoors but I keep trying. Do you have a favorite seed company?

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    1. Bakers and Botanical Interests are wonderful but if you go to my So Seedy page you can see the chart I kept detailing their growth as well as links to all the companies I used. Select Seeds has a massive inventory. Don't give up!! Try try again!

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  18. I keep telling myself I should be growing from seed again. I used to. I think I'm paranoid about burning the house down as I had a gardening client whose heat mat started a fire, though I think mine is better quality. Anyway, you provide inspiration. I remember being struck by the whole "miracle-of-life" phenomenon every time something germinated, never tire of that.
    Okay so this may seem out of left field, but I feel compelled to recommend a book I just finished because it's just so amazingly good. You may have heard of it -- "H is for Hawk" by Helen MacDonald. Check it out.
    And, nice meeting you months ago at Jim D's. Happy 4th.

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    1. That book sounded so amazing I bought it! There is a very primal thrill in sticking a seed in a chunk of soil and seeing it grow. I never tire of it, either. It feels magical and almost impossible. It was wonderful to meet you, too. :o)

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  19. Hi Tammy, wow look at all those seedlings! We started off a whole load of our own and are now drowning under little plantlets that are desperate to go out into the garden but there's no where prepared for them! Oh well, they'll just have to breathe in a bit as they'll be in their pots until I manage to get myself sorted.

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    1. Do you find it inconvenient to work when there is so much gardening to do?

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    2. I meant to write "Don't" instead of "Do". I think all work should stop as soon as I have gardening to do. ;o)

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  20. Those Zinnias! They are all amazing and I am impressed enough to try more seeds next year or even this fall. Interesting about your gomphrena observations. I've tried to grow white gomphrena but they are not vigorous and will not return from seed. So now I know I just need to find the pinks that turn out white instead!

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    1. Thanks! The Peggy's Delight are from Seeds of Change. Gomphrena need total darkness to germinate and are slow growers for the first month or so. I'm going to grow a variety called 'Carmine' from Select Seeds this winter. I really hope it gives me the bright pink I want. Check out my So Seedy page to see how I start my seeds. It works really well. :o)

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    2. I have Carmine gomphrena in my garden now. I purchased the plant at a nursery last year and it returned this year. It is bright and very, very pink.

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  21. You are proof it can be done, even without a greenhouse or fancy equipment! I have a real fondness for zinnias, mainly because they attract so many pollinators. Yours are all lovely.

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  22. Some of my seedy characters are sulking but in this heat, who could blame them? Others are doing well enough to make it all worthwhile. Come February, I'll be all caught up in seed fever anyway, so why resist? You set a fine example.

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    1. Thanks! Growing from seed seems daunting but it can be easy.

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  23. Congrats wwonderfull garden, and flowers,,greeting from Belgium
    http://louisette.eklablog.com/

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  24. What a great selection of annuals, you have done really well!
    It’s a lot of work starting them off like you do so I admire you for doing it. I don’t really have space for growing seeds indoors, and after having downsized I don’t even have the spare bedroom where I sometimes had seedlings and cuttings camping out during winter till it was safe outside. But I do have a long term plan of getting a greenhouse and then I can start as early as I want with seeds, until then it is hardy seeds only for me.

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    1. You have so much to do with your new garden, seeds should wait. I'd focus on the self-starters, too. :o)

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  25. Who ur flowers are awesome! I love zinnias, dahlias, cosmos...etc. now Miss Tammy, I had never heard about neonics till I read your blog . Beyond belief ! Both my sweetie and I have always been the organic gardeners for many years. I never really out much thought into what goes into more plant store annuals but I figured they were pretty nuked as they would always have such little root structure for a lot of top growth. Plus they always seem to take ages to get growing at home. So this year upon reading your blog, I did find some plants that were neonic free here locally. I also bought some seeds and direct sowed- and they grew!! I will be def starting seeds inside this next season. My home growns look much healthier than what I used to buy. My husband always uses seeds for the veggies and they always come up so I threw in some chard and kale in some flower beds. Ha! Now I'm looking at seed catalogues and wow lots of cool flowers. I'd love to have more zinnias but I guess I have to wait till next year- damn!!

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    1. Woo hoo!! I'm so glad I was helpful!! Starting seeds seems daunting but it really isn't. My grow lights are cheap and the plastic drink cups give them lots of room for root growth. I noticed that many of the seedlings I'd grown myself were much healthier than the sad little babies at the nursery. I always grow extra zinnias because there's always a spot that needs a zinnia. :o) Make sure you avoid flowers that are doubles. Pollen is lost in favor of extra petals so while they may be pretty, they're worthless for the pollinators.

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  26. Oh that's so interesting. I'm trying to plant more pollinator friendly plants too, we do have a lot of bees this year. I have a lot of lavender , scrubby perennial sage and self sown calendulas. Our big challenge here is extreme heat and drought and water restrictions. What lives lives, and what doesn't doesn't I guess. Time to put my Tammy hat on and do a rethink and replan!

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    1. Try asclepias tuberosa. It's orange butterfly weed that reseeds for me and is a pollinator magnet and monarch food source. Rudbeckia hirta should do well for you, too, as would Russian sage.

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  27. What an amazing success story. You have such a wonderful abundance of flowers. I like to grow things from seed but I hate pricking out. Still it is worth it to have so many beautiful homegrown plants.

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    1. Thanks! I hate pricking out, too, so I only sow a few seeds per cup. It eliminates the need for so much transplanting. I just pick the seedlings that look the strongest and pull the others.

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  28. Well if you can do it, then I can too! haha! I have been contemplating starting some perennials now in time for fall planting. Got to get off my duff and do this pronto! Love all your flowers...especially the rudbeckia! ~Julie

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  29. That is a fabulous garden of blooms that grew....I love growing annuals from seed and hope to grow perennials someday from seed....many of mine seed so easily in the garden, I have too many in the garden.

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