Perennials From Seed - Knowledgebase Question

Lisle, IL
Question by mjmoderi
May 9, 2001
I would like to start some perennials from seed. Do I have to start them indoors also, or can I plant the seeds directly in the garden? If I can plant directly, how deep should I plant them and how much water / special soil, etc is needed?


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Answer from NGA
May 9, 2001

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First of all, different plants have different requirements for seed starting--some need light to germinate, for example. Most importantly, some perennial seeds need a pre-treatment to improve germination--for example, some will need to be chilled for a certain amount of time, to mimic the chilling they'd get if they remained on the ground over the winter and sprouted in the spring. So it's best to research each type individually. Seed packets will give you specific instructions.

Although you can sow perennial seeds directly into the ground, I prefer to sow most seeds in containers, so I can nurture them along until they get to a good size for transplanting. Many perennials are slow growers at first, and are easily overrun with weeds in the garden. You could also create a special "nursery bed" in your garden, where you sow your seeds and/or grow out your transplants. It can take several years for some perennials to reach flowering size, and you may not want to put them in your flower beds until then.

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