The Q&A Archives: Starting Seeds Outdoors

Question: I am starting seeds for Poppies, and morning glories and would like to know how I start the seed outside in the flower bed. Do I use topsoil or potting soil? The soil is in good condition that I can see.

Answer: All the instructions for starting seeds in the garden should be on the seed packet label, but if they aren't, here's how to do it. Both flowers you mention grow and bloom best in full sun. Loosen the soil in the bed to a depth of at least 6" with a spade or tiller. Smooth the soil with a rake or other tool to break up large clods of soil. This helps the soil make good contact with the seed, and pass the much-needed moisture to it for germination.

Morning glory seeds sprout best when soaked overnight in luke-warm water. Plant seeds about 1/4" deep, and firm the soil gently over them. Small-seeded poppies need barely any soil coverage. Moisten the soil gently with a fine spray of water so you don't dislodge the seeds from the bed. Keep the soil evenly moist (not soaking wet) until the seedlings are growing strong.

Both poppies and morning glories bloom best in soil that is not terribly fertile, is well-drained and has a moderate pH (6.0-7.0). If you're growing these directly in the soil, you probably don't need to fertilize it at all. If you're growing them in containers, use a mix that is blended for use in containers. Topsoil and potting soil are usually too heavy and stay too moist for container plants. If you're growing perennial poppies (Icelandic or Oriental), plant them where you intend for them to remain, because they don't transplant well. I hope this helps!

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