1. Only the strong survive.
While some plants are inherently tougher than others, giving them the conditions they need to develop strong roots and a sturdy stem will create more resilient plants. Babying them will just create weak plants.
My favorite character, Michonne, is tough but tender.
If she was a plant, she wouldn't be a shrinking violet!
These are seedlings started in January and February. Thanks to recent record setting temperatures, they spent the day outside.
Beautiful variegated foliage on my 'Frosted Flames Mix' snapdragons.
On warm, breezy days I put the seedlings outside in a sheltered spot for a few hours to toughen up and soak up the sun. A gentle breeze helps them develop stronger, thicker stems. Keeping them moist will prevent their tender leaves from drying out. If it's too windy, I put them in my cheapo plastic greenhouse. I start this process well before they're ready to begin hardening off.
Every seedling isn't going to make it. I pull the ones that are growing weird or crowding out stronger plants and add the newly departed to the worm bin.
Cuphea like to be a bit dry but it took a while to learn just how dry is too dry so this little guy has a few battle scars.
The cuphea seedlings kept leaning and grew tall and skinny despite being close to the grow lights. I pulled them all and kept the shortest, stockiest plant who is a very happy camper.
As long as you can run faster than a zombie can walk,
you might be ok. But don't count on it!
3. No excuses and no whining.
I like my plants the way I like my people: honest, reliable, easy going, and direct. My plants need to be able to buckle down and grow. No divas allowed! If my basic set up can't make them happy, I feed them to the worms.
Dahlia 'White Figaro' has the highest germination rate so far.
Seed grown dahlias are very easy to grow. I sowed mine in big pots this year since they quickly become root bound in my drink cups. I'll thin them to three plants per pot.
The woods are full of zombies? Why, yes, I'd love to go for a walk.
4. Organization is vital.
I can remember conversations I had years ago but can't remember if I've eaten breakfast, which is absurd. If I don't write down what I've learned from one year to the next, I might forget and make the same mistake twice. I don't like drama in the seed box so everything is organized by sowing month and then added to a few alphabetical, color coded charts. You can check it out at my So Seedy 2016 page.
How thoughtful of them to label this for us!
5. Grow what makes you happy.
If the plant makes you happy, grow it, grow it, grow it! I direct sowed six different types of rudbeckia for that very reason. I like how open rudbeckia are. What you see is what you get.
I love these Denver Daisies (Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisies') so much, I'm growing them again.
The survivors prefer fresh tomatoes over brains.
6. Be willing to experiment.
A mistake is only a mistake if you haven't learned anything. Plants don't speak English and you're not a mind reader so don't beat yourself up if something dies. Trial and error is a huge part of learning how to grow plants from seed. But grow extras in case your gardening style is a bit apocalyptic.
Let's see if this works....
Grow, seeds! Grow!
Grow, seeds! Grow!
I've read gomphrena (globe amaranth) germinates best in the dark and have always covered their seed cups with newspaper. But I've also had them self-sow in my garden and read they germinate best when exposed to light. This year I scattered the seeds on the surface, covered the cups with plastic baggies and never turned the heat mat off. The purple gomphrena germinated in three days!
7. A little love goes a long way!
Every living thing needs to be loved and nurtured. Understanding your plants' needs will give you happier plants, which will make you a happier gardener.
Centranthus 'Snow Cloud' seedlings
Centranthus needs loose, fast draining soil but watering from above creates soil compaction. To keep my plants happy I water from below and sowed them in extra light soil.
True love is hugging someone who hasn't showered in over two years.