Answer: Let's see if we can clarify things a bit for you. First of all, you've chosen seeds that are somewhat challenging to sprout. This is an important step for new gardeners, and reflects your adventurous nature. Verbena seeds are erratic in germination and require darkness and well-drained soil or they will pout and refuse to make an appearance. Sow the seeds on the top of moistened seed starting mix, at a depth of 1/16 of an inch. Seed starting mix is finely processed peat with perlite or other aerating compounds mixed in. It's lightweight, drains quickly yet holds just the right amount of moisture, and the texture provides support for the roots while allowing easy penetration. So, yes, it's a bit like baby formula for young plants, and yes, it's a substitute for dirt.
After sowing the verbena seeds in trays, flats, or individual pots of seed starting mix, place them in a warm area, such as on top of the refrigerator. When kept at 65F-70F they will germinate in 14-90 days. Water when the top of the soil begins to dry out, but don't keep the soil soggy. Too much of a good thing will drown the little fellas.
Hope the above uncomplicates the process of seed starting for you and elevates you to a higher level of seed packet interpretation and new level of expertise.
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