Sowing Flowers Early Indoors

As much as I like wintersowing, I've found that some flowers work better for me started indoors. For calculating when to sow, I'm using an average last frost date of May 1. Most flowers are destined for our apartment's front garden, a patch surrounded by cement that warms up much faster than my vegetable plot out at Rock Meadow in Belmont. For vegetables I use a last frost date of at least May 15th.

It was February 20th and I wanted to plant things. I checked my Skippy's Flowers and Herbs app to see what varieties were recommended that week. I didn't have any petunia seeds, so I checked the week previous and the week after for more ideas - these are "optimal" planting times after all. (yes, I'm talking again about an app I built, please buy it so I can buy more seeds)

I filled one of my trimmed row-trays with seed starting mix and let it soak.

Sowing List

  • 'Bowles's Black' Viola
  • 'Apache Sunset' Agastache
  • Rosanna Sidalcea (a hollyhock relative)
  • 'Malmaison' Snapdragons
  • 'Freelander Blue' Prunella aka 'self-heal'
  • 'Silver Speedwell' veronica incana
  • 'Amsterdam' cutting celery

All but the snapdragons were leftover seeds form previous years. I surface sowed all of the seeds, sowing pretty thickly because I was unsure of my germination rate and didn't have enough to do a proper test.

Temps in the basement are around 60, maybe a little cool for speedy germination but I think it will be fine. Four days after sowing, a few prunella sprouts are up.

Six days after sowing, the snaps and agastaches are up. I moved the plastic so it only covers the rows that have not germinated yet. Sprouted seeds need more air flow.

16 days after sowing, all seeds have sprouted except the celery and viola. Maybe the seeds were too old or they need dark to germinate? I added some soilless mix on top and we'll see if it helps.