How to Grow Perennial Seedlings
Growing perennial seedlings is easier than you may think.
Perennials are low-maintenance plants appreciated for their numerous varieties, aesthetic appeal, and dependability. Unlike annual plants, which require replanting every spring, perennials die at the end of every growing season, and then reemerge from their established roots the next year and every year thereafter for decades. There are many species of perennials, and each varies in cultural requirements, growing patterns, bloom time, lifespan, and appearance. Although perennials grown from seeds take longer to mature and flower, they are worth the extra time and attention. Starting perennials from seeds allows to you save money, grow more plants, and monitor their progress throughout every stage of the growing process. Growing perennial seedlings involves several decisions and common knowledge about the specific variety you want to grow. Discover tips on how to grow perennial seedlings and ensure they thrive in your garden.
With so many different species of perennials to choose from, becoming familiar with all of your options may seem overwhelming. Some varieties, however, are particularly easy to grow from seeds. These varieties include, but are not limited to alliums, lupines, primroses, and wild buckwheat. Although you can never know how a plant will perform unless you plant it yourself, fellow gardeners can provide helpful advice on which perennials grow best in your area. When choosing a perennial plant, consider factors such as its cultural requirements and ability to grow in your growing zone. If you pay special attention to plant colors, forms, and textures, make sure the perennial you choose will aesthetically complement your other plants. In addition, keep in mind some perennials only bloom for only couple weeks per year, while others bloom for a few months.
Planting your perennials in a suitable location helps them live longer and thrive. Decide whether you want to sow your perennial seeds indoors or directly into your garden or flowerbed during the spring to early summer. Although growing your seeds indoors is more time-consuming, it produces larger plants and increases the likelihood of flower blooms the first season. Sowing your seeds directly in the desired garden location is the easiest method, but the plants won't bloom until their second season. Transplanting may prove necessary with both methods. Choose whichever method is most convenient for you, both are acceptable strategies.
If you decide to grow your seeds indoors, start by sprinkling a few seeds into each section of a cardboard egg carton with drainage holes. Use a potting mix designed for sowing perennial seedlings, and read the instructions on the seed packet to determine whether to cover the seeds with soil. After soaking the soil with water, slip the carton of seeds into a clear plastic bag, and then place the bag in a draft-free location within the temperature range specified on the seed instructions. Once the seedlings germinate, which typically occurs within three weeks, remove the carton from the plastic bag and place the carton in a sunny location until the seedlings have grown into plants with leaves. Transplant the young plants into plastic cell packs containing potting soil, water thoroughly, and then keep the seedlings in natural light. Plant the seedlings outdoors in a nursery bed after the first frost date. Lightly fertilize the plants a couple weeks after transplanting, and keep them weeded and watered throughout the growing season. Finally, dig up and transplant the perennial plants to a permanent location the following spring.
When planting your perennial seeds outdoors, it's important to read the instructions on the seed packet. Sowing during the proper weather conditions is the key to growing healthy perennial plants, which all have different planting requirements. First, prepare the location where you plant to sow the perennial seeds. Turn over the soil with a spade, rake the area to break up clumps, and then smooth the bed until it is level. Avoid walking on the bed or plowing when it's too wet. Create furrows in the soil at the recommended depth specified in the instructions. Sow the seeds, and then cover the furrows with soil. Some perennials require less coverage than others, so refer to the instructions. Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout, making sure the soil never dries out. A plant protector can help keep the soil warm while conserving moisture, and mulch can slow evaporation during the summertime. If you notice the seedlings growing too close together as they germinate, you will need to thin them to avoid overcrowding. If you planted the perennial seeds in a nursery bed, you will need to transplant the plants to their permanent location the following spring.
Although dependable, perennials require some maintenance to ensure they remain healthy. Applying a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer in the spring can help improve water retention and soil texture. Drip water systems are ideal for perennials, and mulching is beneficial to new perennial gardens. Certain perennials, such as hybrid lilies, require staking for support when they reach blooming size.