The Q&A Archives: Perennial Seeds Indoors

Question: I am trying to start some perennials indoors under a grow light (15 h/d). After 23 days: 3/15 delphinium (galahad), 8/11 hollyhock (summer carnival), 11/42 candytuft, 4/9 soapwort, and 0/9 rockcress have sprouted and are developing their first or second set of true leaves. But in the adjacent segments of the seed flat- nothing! I read on your web site that delphinium needs darkness to germinate, so I could cover the non-sprouted sections. Hollyhock needs light to germinate, so I could remove some soil. What should I do about the other species? How long should I wait before giving up and starting new seeds?

Answer: I wouldn't give up yet. Rock cress takes 20-25 days to germinate; delphinium seeds are quite short-lived, so if your seed is not fresh that could be a factor; candytuft takes 16-20 days to germinate and prefers a temp of 55-65F; soapwort needs complete darkness to germinate, so cover those too; and as you've learned, hollyhock needs light (though 8/11 isn't bad!)

Perennial seeds seem to me to be more difficult to grow than annuals. And as I mentioned, some flower seeds don't keep well. I would keep these flats going, but start more seeds of the ones you want more of. If you're keeping the soil evenly moist, using a sterile mix and clean pots, then it sounds like you're doing things right.

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