Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: Need Sempervivum Seed Starting 101

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Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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CDsSister
Mar 25, 2015 4:11 PM CST
I know there have been posts on this but can I find them ??? Confused NO. I looked in many many posts, I found how to do hypertufa, how to plant your Semps after mail order comes in, best soils for semps etc etc etc. *Blush*

However I want to know some real basics. I don't think I have ever planted anything from seed. (I know I know but it is true) Rolling my eyes. Blinking Confused

I bought the seed starting mixture I have my seed starting containers and I just need to know ...
1. Pour in the mix -- Do I need to make it more porous?
2. Water the soil - A little or a lot?
3. Put in seeds? On top? under a bit of soil?
4. Place in sun? In Shade? Outside? I see some use a heat map and lamps but I really do not have a place for that.

5. Expect sprouting? 1 week, two, six?

I have been reading the posts on thinning and grooming and repotting but I just want to get these things started.

HELP I'm all ears!

Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 25, 2015 4:36 PM CST
Found the winter sowing article and now have some basics.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 25, 2015 4:42 PM CST
This was especially helpful in addition to Lynn's winter sowing article which advised:
Time to plant those seeds:

Gather your favorite potting mix (I use Miracle Grow Potting Mix).
Place about 3 inches of potting mix into your milk jug and water it. I like to add the water now, so I don’t disturb the seeds once they are planted.
Plant seeds according to directions for that type of seed. Some need to be covered, some need light to germinate.
Place a plant maker (with name of seed and date planted) inside the jug.
Close jug and tape closed using a piece of Duct Tape.
On the outside of the jug write the name of seeds planted and the date you planted them.

Now comes the hard part. Place them outdoors in an exposed area, making sure wind and animals can’t knock them over. There are many ways to accomplish this. Some of mine are placed in heavy cardboard boxes, or you can make a wooden frame around them. Once you have set them outside, walk away. Yes, walk away; leave them there until warm weather arrives. You can occasionally peek through the open spout hole to see if anything is germinating, but don’t open them. When the plants germinate and start growing, you can open the top half of the jug on warm days so the plants don’t get too hot. At this time you might have to give them some added water if the soil is drying out. Once the seedlings have grown large enough to transplant, you can either move them to larger containers or plant them in their permanent location. If you were careful about planting only a few seeds per jug, you can cut the top portion of the jug off and finish growing the seedlings until they are ready to be transplanted. At this time, depending on the growing conditions needed by the plants, you can move the jug to shade or partial shade as needed. Once the top half of the jug is removed you will have to make sure the seedlings are watered when they need it.

You can also use the top half of the jug as a miniature greenhouse to protect the new seedlings from late frosts, once you have placed them in their permanent home. Just remember to remove the covers once the sun comes out or it will get too hot for the plants. This can also protect them from damage from pests, both insects and animals, until they become mature enough to survive on their own.

JungleShadows said:Hi!

I'm sorry I have missed this thread and there were people waiting for me to comment.

I let the seedlings develop at least several sets of true leaves before trying to row them out. When I approach rowing out a pot, I find that I can pull out small portions of the encrusted surface of the potting mix and then begin teasing out the seedlings from it, sometimes breaking potting mix crust into sections and then placing that semp + crust right in the rows in the seedling bed. In that way, the seedlings are not totally bare-root when they go into their new home. I generally start with the seedlings that are most separated from their neighbors in a pot and that work my way into the more congested clumps. The best time to do this is when it is drizzling rain as the seedlings never miss a beat and start growing rapidly. The neighbors I'm sure think I'm crazy as I'm leaning over the bed getting soaked and doing what seems to be doing nothing as you can't see that ANYTHING has been rowed out from 5' away! I also water the seedlings even if it is raining. That also causes the neighbors to shae their head. The soil in which they are transplanted should be wet but not soupy/ muddy.

I give the seedlings some Quick Start fertilizer every two weeks for the first several months. That treatment seems to get the seedlings off and growing well. Many of the plants produce increase by the end of the season. I use some gravel between the rows of seedlings to suppress weed growth and prevent splashing of soil onto the seedlings.

If you are a bit scared about tackling the transplanting of seedlings, don't do the whole pot at once, especially if there are LOTS in that pot. In the special crosses I'm really careful as to how I row them out. I'll be extra careful of the 'Fuego' x 'Killer' group, for example.

Good luck all. It's so great to have people crossing semps again! I think Greg may be the next one to start. it is such fun to see how each cross develops. Yesterday I discovered a new 'Weirdo' type in one of my crosses. Hadn't seen one in many years!

Kevin


[Last edited by CDsSister - Mar 25, 2015 4:43 PM (+)]
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Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 25, 2015 8:32 PM CST
@Valleylynn I found this little grow house at my local nursery. I plan my to use it for my seed planting.
It is called Elho Green Basics Grow house. I got the medium size. I think it will work.

http://www.johnlewis.com/store/elho-green-basics-grow-house-...

[Last edited by CDsSister - Mar 25, 2015 8:32 PM (+)]
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Mar 26, 2015 12:03 PM CST
Ooh Marilyn, thanks for starting this thread. I need to refresh my memories on the techniques/tips also though I probably won't do seeds this year but will try the next. Your thread should help a lot of people! You are such a nice popsicle...oops, person.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 26, 2015 2:43 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Thank You! I think. Funny after I started it I begin to see tips all over the place.

Hope it helps and we get lots of new semp babies.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Mar 26, 2015 10:36 PM CST

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That little grow house looks great Marilyn, and having the lid will help keep the seedlings from drying out. You should be able to just set it out on your patio slab. I would be afraid wind would blow it of the table.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Mar 26, 2015 11:09 PM CST
I agree with Bev Marilyn, thank you for starting this thread! For me I realized its the simple thing of NOT letting them dry out for the first couple of months...its hard for me to water my outdoor plants that often! Blinking
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 27, 2015 4:49 PM CST
Thanks. I am glad it helps others as well as hopefully, gives me the info I need to grow semps from seed.

Any suggestions on how to remember how/when to water? Confused

Looks like Kevin said: " I also water the seedlings even if it is raining. The soil in which they are transplanted should be wet but not soupy/ muddy. "

I am guessing in my climate that means about once a day.

And I think he said he uses the Quick Start after he "rows the out" , guessing that means repotting from original seed potting mixture. I am thinking that is a very critical time for the new plants. Do they need to stay pretty wet during this period too? Is that when we add the chicken grit and use our succulent mix? I'm all ears! I'm all ears!

Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Mar 27, 2015 8:54 PM CST
Marilyn,

Like anything, making the watering part of your daily routine is a great help. So each time you do the dishes, check the pots!

You can place the seed pots in a tray with water in the bottom, an inch or so will keep them wet for a good bit. The water will wick up into the pots and keep the young seedlings wet without flooding. Lynn uses a "mini jug greenhouse" to start hers that also keeps in water and the pests out. Some people put a plastic bag over the top of the pot or put glass over the top of the pot although they still dry out unless you add water or grow them in the tray with water in the bottom.

This year I've been giving the seedlings drinks of Quick Start right away and they seem to be responding as they are maturing faster this year. Many of the pots have seedlings with two sets of true leaves and many of the heuffs are more advanced than that. The seedlings will get watered with Quick Start once every two weeks and watered any time they look dry after they are rowed out. remember these are ALPINE PLANTS NOT CACTUS. I don't stray from home for more than a couple days until the seedlings are well established. Worse than raising puppies! I mulch between the rows of seedlings with aquarium gravel shortly after rowing out the seedlings and cover the whole area in bird netting. I have a problem with chipmunks digging up the babies so you might not have to do this in your garden. I never did in MA.

Hope that helps!

Kevin

Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 28, 2015 8:42 AM CST

Thanks so much. Thank You! So wet but not soggy and daily. I will try it. Thumbs up
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Mar 28, 2015 9:00 AM CST
No they might not need WATER every day but CHECK them every day! The soil should be moist to the touch but not sopping wet.

Also it's good therapy to see the little guys growing. Gives you faith in nature and you can imagine them all grown up and beautiful too! Best yet every one will be different. Such fun!

Kevin
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Mar 28, 2015 9:25 AM CST

Kevin, Thanks again. I will watch but knowing that in a Colorado spring we get warming winds as well as brilliant sunshine, I suspect keeping them damp may be a challenge. I am hoping the little greenhouse will help with that but that too will be a learning curve.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Apr 2, 2015 1:59 PM CST
One more thing,
Do I cover the seeds or just let them sit on top of the soil? I am ready to put them out we have a cold cloudy day today with rain/snow predicted for tonight but gone by weekend and back to bright sunny until the next storm comes along about mid week. I'm all ears! I'm all ears! I'm all ears!
@valleylynn @gg5 @webesemps @jungleshadows @springcolor --- sorry if I forgot someone but am calling several people just want to get a chance for a couple replies -- I know everyone is getting ready for this weekend and the coming seminar so trying not to be a pest.

Thank You!
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Apr 2, 2015 3:45 PM CST
I put a light covering of soil on top of the seeds so they stay put. Did you do the jug method? It seems that the jugs are nice and protective but I put a light soil layer on top anyway so that when it gets watered (by you or rain) the seeds stay put. Good luck, Marilyn and have fun! I will miss you that special weekend but I will think of you... nodding
Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
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springcolor
Apr 2, 2015 4:08 PM CST
I have never put soil on them but I mist them with a pump sprayer when they get dry. Just another school of thought, which is why gardening is so great. Kevin will tell you for sure what to do Marilyn, he is the master seedman. Make sure to tape the lid on that little greenhouse so it will not blow away but, not so much you can remove it to water. I also water the little ones with a weak chamomile tea (1 tea bag to about a gallon of water) to stop any dampening off fungus or sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon over the soil. Don't save the tea water because it gets moldy. Believe me it does. Whistling

I love those milk jugs but we don't drink anything that comes in those. Any one coming to the clinic like to save me some? I checked with Starbucks but they will not save for me.
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Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Apr 2, 2015 4:57 PM CST
I am using a couple of "mini seed starting greenhouses."

Thumb of 2015-04-02/CDsSister/ec0be1

The card board devides the different seed groups. Not elegant but the best I could come up with on short notice. Perhaps I will replace it with something else, it moved around a bit. when I moved them.

I also sprinkled a little Cinnamon in with them as I had been told it helped seeds to germinate.
Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
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pardalinum
Apr 2, 2015 5:32 PM CST
Marilyn, if you have some plastic plant labels use those to replace the cardboard. I've had problems with mold forming on cardboard when using it for dividers.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Apr 2, 2015 5:39 PM CST

Thanks, I do have some plastic markers. I will try them. T Thank You! Thank You! hanks so much
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Apr 2, 2015 7:20 PM CST

Moderator

I never put soil on top of my seeds. The main thing, like others mentioned above, is to not let them dry out.
I sure look forward to seeing them germinate.

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