The Q&A Archives: Sure-Fire Seed Starting

Question: I am planting seedlings for the first time. I have zinnias, sunflowers, coxcombs and asters started. I put them outside on warm sunny days and bring them in at night. Is that right? How long should it be before the start to grow, and how big shouldthey be before I plant them outside? Our weather is still quite volatile this time of year. Your help is greatly appreciated! Barbara Burlington, MA

Answer: Here's a sure fire way to start seeds: Sow the seed in a flat or pot. Water from below until the soil surface changes color (gets darker). Enclose in a plastic bag and place in a warm area (65-75 degrees F). Light is beneficial but not necessary in most cases. When germination is apparent, remove the plastic bag (the bag helps retain moisture since germinating seeds are very sensitive to drying). Put under artificial lights or in bright light. Remember, temperature affects the rate of growth. The higher the temperature, the faster the plants grow. Days to germination will vary depending on the plant. Wait until the end of May to plant if you think a frost may occur but call your local nursery for more specific information as to planting times!

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