If you are a home or hobby gardener, you may want to grow your flowers from seeds. This is truly the best value for a gardener. With a very small cost of the seed packets you can fill your garden with color! And, you will have a much greater variety of plants to choose from. If you want to give it a try, you can start with plant seeds that are commonly easy to grow in North America.
Here is a guide to help you grow your plants from seeds.
Generally, the size of the seed can help determine the necessary size of a pot. A half inch seed should have a six inch pot. Just about any pot that provides drainage will work. You can also use plastic containers. If necessary, punch holes for drainage if you use plastic containers. If the seeds are extremely small, using the bottom half of an egg carton will work. Punch holes below each depression.
When choosing from perennial plant seed varieties, look for ones adapted to your region and planting zone. Most seeds are best sown in a synthetic potting soil mix. Many larger seeds can be sown in low cost organic potting soil. Any potting soil should be sufficient, though.
Most fertilizers say 5-10-5 on them and that means 5% nitrogen (nitrogen good for grass and green foliage), 10% phosphorus (phosphorus good for roots and is good for flowers and fruits) and 5% potassium (potassium good for overall health and is good for flowers and fruits). A fertilizer that says 10-10-5 or 14-14-10 is higher in nitrogen is good for grass and foliage but will tend to make flowers have more foliage and less flowers so don't use a grass fertilizer on flowers or fruit bearing trees.
Manure is 5-10-5 and is inexpensive but takes several months to completely break down and fertilize the plants. For fast results use chemical fertilizers that do not need to break down.
Sow your seeds in the potting soil. Allow a few seeds per container/pot as not each seed will germinate. Cover with a quarter inch of additional soil. Water your seeds until the soil is moist throughout. A little puddle of water may form below your plant, so it is best to put your pot in a saucer or pan.
Place your plants so that they are getting indirect sunlight. Lighting and heat sources are optional and vary with seed type. The right soil temperature controls dormancy, so bottom heat is best. Many seeds require low level light for germination. A fluorescent shop- or under-cabinet light works well at low cost. Most small seeds require a bright light source for a few days before carrying on outdoors.
Increase humidity for germination with a thin, clear plastic bag or plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap for 15 minutes per day or punch holes for air circulation. Watch closely for germination because most seeds will germinate much quicker than the length of time given in most specifications.
Remove the plastic wrap as soon as the seeds sprout.
Transplant your seeds outside after seedlings are strong and established (after growing about 1 to 2 inches tall). Most seeds are easy to transplant.
To determine the density of plants in your flower garden, measure the area of your garden and calculate its square footage (width x length = square feet). Then determine the spacing requirements of each variety. If the recommended spacing is six inches, use four plants per square foot; for eight-inch spacing, two plants; 12-inch spacing, one plant. It's also a good idea to plant a few in four- or six-inch pots to hold for later in the summer, in case you need replacement plants.
If you can't plant immediately, store your seedlings in a protected area out of wind and free of danger of a late frost. Water as needed to prevent them from drying out.
Try to transplant on an overcast day or late in the afternoon to minimize stress. Water each plant thoroughly before removing from the growing container or pot.
Prepare the planting bed by loosening the soil to a depth of six to eight inches. Dig each hole slightly larger than the seedling's root. Add two inches of compost or composted manure, and mix in well. Gently place the seedling in the hole, filling in with garden soil and tamping securely into place.
Drench the soil around the plants, watering slowly, deeply, and evenly. Provide daily attention to your new plants for the first few weeks, watering as the soil surface dries out. Fertilize once with an organic fertilizer such as 5-3-4 or a synthetic fertilizer like 10-10-10, according to the instructions on the product label.
Mulch to retain moisture and keep down weeds. Use a two-inch layer of bark chips, straw, or other organic matter. Avoid leaves, unless shredded, as they may pack down keeping water and air from the plant roots.