The Q&A Archives: Starting Browalia from Seed

Question: I volunteered to start some browalia seedlings for my sister in Pittsburgh from seeds I gathered from her browalia annuals in August. Had never tried this, but was certain it was possible. Planted the browalia in sterile seed-starter in clean tray. Germination took 2 months! in a greenhouse window with tray under glass dome and regular spritzing with H2O only. Lost all seedlings just after the first set of true leaves to a sad withering (I had just thinned the seedlings, which were too crowded). Help! I have some seeds in the fridge now and need to know if they require four months before planting outside and how to avoid failure this time around.

Answer: Unfortunately, the rule of thumb is to start them in February to plant them out in May as good sized plants. This long process explains why most gardeners purchase these as plants rather than start them from seed. In addition, these plants are from the jungle and really sulk without ample heat. They grow best in a warm moist environment, so the warmer they can be kept the faster they will grow. Bottom heat should help them to germinate faster, and if thinning is a problem, plant them thinly and then remove extras by clipping them off at the soil level. (Nail scissors work nicely for this.) This will avoid root disturbance and subsequent drying out -- they resent a dry atmosphere, too. Good luck with your plants!

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