Sowing perennials from seed
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April 23, 2008 at 4:36 pm #27712
Welcome, both to the blog and forums, and to the neighborhood. Sounds like you are really digging right in.
The seeds you are sowing each have a slightly different preferred way of being handled. Generally speaking, I like to sow things indoors, or in seedling flats or small pots in seed-starting mix, and keep them where I can take better care of them than in the open ground, then transplant when they are sturdy.
But you can in some of these cases sow outdoors—it just offers a few more challenges as the babies will be very susceptible to drying out and so forth. So here’s what I think:
It’s late and already too warm for the larkspur to do well outdoors. It need a “chill period” to perform well, and is best not transplanted from where it’s sown. It ideally is sown where it is going to be wanted in the very early spring, or even the fall before. Hold onto your seed till autumn and sow then, and hopefully you will have larkspur next year. After that let the plats sown themselves around and make the next year’s crop.
The hollyhocks can be sown after frost danger is past (wait at least till the end of May), and this year you will at least have rosettes of leaves, with flowers next year. I say that because most hollyhocks are biennial, meaning they bloom in Year 2, but some varieties do flower earlier—I don’t know which ones you have.
The delphiniums are usually a short-lived perennial in our hot summers, though some (like the ‘Belladonna’ mix) behave more like annuals—that is blooming in Year 1. Most others will take until next year. I would not sow these directly in the garden; do them indoors, and you can set the plants out in the early fall.
The lupines can be direct sown, but they don’t really like to be disturbed; their roots are fragile. So if you have to move them, do so with a gentle hand. I don’t know if you have perennial lupines or annual ones.
Read the directions about sowing depth and other details on each packet as well—some need darkness, other light to germinate, etc.
If you want a really great (free!) reference to have on hand about when and how and where to sow what (vegetables and flowers) I’d order a copy of the Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog, http://johnnyseeds.com. Yes, a catalog, but written with all the care of a handbook of gardening. I couldn’t live without it, or their seeds.
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