The Q&A Archives: Starting Seeds for Annuals Indoors

Question: I need detailed instructions on how to start annual flowers inside for transplanting to outdoors after the last frost. Donald R. Doran Omaha, NE

Answer: You will need a calendar, potting media, flats/pots, seeds, and a source of heat and light. First, find out when the average date for last frost is for your area. The seed packet should state the length of time needed before the last frost date. Count back from that date and start your seeds accordingly. Fill your flat or pot with soil. It's best to use a shallow flat or pot. Sow the seeds to the depth stated on the seed packet. If there is no information on that, planting depth is 1 1/2 times the diameter of the seed. If they are very small seeds (begonia) sow on the surface of the soil and firm the soil. Water all flats from the bottom so you don't disturb the seeds. Your sink or a large baking pan is appropriate. Cover the flat with a clear plastic bag. Some seeds need darkness (the packet will tell you that) Use black plastic in that case. Place in a warm (65-75 degrees F) place. Watch closely. When the first seeds start to germinate, take off the bag and place under/in your light source.That could be under grow lights or in a south facing window. When the seedlings get big enough to handle (as small as possible but you can get them between your fingers) transplant them into small individual pots. One word of advice: even though it'smighty tempting, don't start your seeds too early. The resulting plants will get too leggy. You want transplants that are compact. .

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