Will it be too late to plant perennials from seeds in Summer?

wildflower_2009July 24, 2010

I'm a newbie in gardening. I had planted perennials from seeds (Burpee) in this year early Spring. However, almost all of them didn't grow. =P

Now that it is mid summer, I am wondering whether I can plant them (from seeds) again now (or mid Aug to the latest). Will there be enough time for them to survive Fall/Winter and be able to come back next year? Or should I just try again in next Spring? I'm hoping to see the flowers next year without having to risk the disappointment of failure like this year.

List of plants I would like to plant from seed : Shasta Daisy (White Knight), Dianthus (Ipswich Pinks), Columbine, Candy Tuft, Lavender (Lady), Coreopsis (Early Sunrise), Chinese Lantern.

Thanks for your advice.

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My best advice would be to check in with the Winter Sowing forum people. Seems like a successful method if you have the inclination, time, and yard space for a bunch of containers.

I've never grown perennials from seed - other than the columbine (A. Canadenses) which grows wild here and the seeds are dropping naturally around the parent plant. The only thing I know about those is that they need light to germinate and those few seeds that do germinate won't bloom for the first year or two.

I suspect there is a certain excitement in growing from seed, but to get a perennial garden established relatively quickly with plants that are likely to bloom the first season, you pretty much have to buy them grown and potted from garden centers, big box stores, or wherever you can find them. Many perennials will be going on sale now or very soon since, alas, summer is half over.

I realize, too, there are budget constraints and seeds might seem to be the better bargain. But they're not such a good bargain if they don't grow.

My intention is not to discourage you and hopefully someone who successfully grows perennials from seed will chime with some real tips for you.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 6:02PM
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dianasan(z5a Mtl)

Seeds have different requirements to germinate. Some seeds are best sown in Spring, but some need to undergo freezing before they can germinate. That is why it's best to follow the directions indicated on the seed package.

Generally, about a month or 6 weeks before last frost date in your area, simply sow the seeds in a small pot and cover very lightly with potting soil. Cover the pot with a baggie or create a mini 'greenhouse' over the pot and place next to a bright window, but not where it will be cooked by the direct rays of the sun. This will work for most seeds, unless otherwise indicated on the package.

As for the flowers you listed, dianthus, coreopsis, candy tuft and Chinese lantern are best started in the Spring.

Lady Lavender is a lavender that will come true from seeds. It is sown in the Spring and will bloom the first year.

Columbine should be sown now and will produce blooming-size plants for next Spring.

Shasta daisy are to be sown 2 months before first frost date in Autumn, which means that in your area they should be sown by mid-August.

Your last frost date: April 15th
Your first frost date: October 15th

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 6:05PM
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duluthinbloomZ4 & dianasan : Thank you so much for your advice. Good tips on the ongoing sales and the winter sowing discussion thread. I ended up getting 20+ assorted perennials on sales yesterday. As for seeding, I might continue to try them again (for fun) in late next month.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:07AM
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northerngirl_mi(Z5 MI)

You mentioned failure this spring. Have you sorted out the reasons? You must keep the seed bed constantly moist. Sometimes it's easier to sow in pots, then transplant to the garden when they have put on a little size.

If you search the forum, you will read a number of warnings about planting chinese lantern... many of those who plant it later spend lots of time trying to rid it from their gardens.

Z5 Northern Michigan

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

after 30 odd years of gardening ... one thing i never was all that good at was growing perennials from seed .... but back then there wasnt the internet.. and all these helpful peeps ...

that is not to say i dont have selfsown plants like columbine and what not.. but they take care of all that themselves ....

so as a self stated newbie.. i just want you to know.. IMHO.. you are starting with one of the hardest gardening things there is ...

keep at it.. but do not get discouraged ...

its hard because of all the variables.. some seeds can be sown directly.. ready to go.. some need stratification .. or seed coat softening.. and some need the cold weather ....

and then there is the whole winter thing and whether the mature plants will thrive in your zone.. regardless of the claims.. like lavender ...

my best suggestion.. buy the plants.. learn how to grow them.. then move on toward learning how to propagate them by seeds ...

just dont ever give up


    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 8:56AM
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I do sew many perennials from seed in July. I start them in a shady spot and use miracle grow potting soil mix. The growing conditions are so much easier then trying to do them inside, warm temps, better light easier to water. Once the seeds start germinating I put them in a spot where they get 2 to 3 hours of light. Once the first set of true leaves comes out I put in a spot that gets about 4or 5 hours of sun. When the second set of leaves comes out I move them either to their permanent spot or to a nursery bed in my veg garden. I might use shade cloth for a few days if it is still so hot. I am expanding again and so am doing a lot of seed this year. My sweet william and shasta daisy's are on their first set of true leaves, the following have germinated and are getting 2-3 hours of sun painted daisy, achillea, salvia (new dimensions), am still waiting on delphinium, salvia blue cloud, russian sage, blue queen salvia and my columbine seed will come out of the freezer on Monday and into my sewing trays. When you grow perennials from seed, they flower the following season. Hope this is of some use.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 12:12PM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

I do know columbine need cold stratification to germinate, so winter sowing them would be best. If you sow them now, you won't get any sprouts until they've had at least a couple of months of cold. I'd fall sow those via winter sowing method, or wait until winter when the cabin fever starts in and start sowing seeds then.


Here is a link that might be useful: GW Winter Sowing forum

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 8:16PM
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I winter sowed all the seed types you mentioned above ex. Chinese lantern and had high germination rates for all but the Shasta daisies. I'm summer sowing those (same method as WS) at the moment and it appears I got 100% germination. I also SS rudbeckia Irish Eyes, perennial blue flax, dianthus & helenium. I sow in recycled milk jugs with drainage holes poked in the bottom and vent holes poked at the top. For summer sowing, the jugs are set in the shade where they get an hour or so of late afternoon sun. All but the columbine seeds sprouted quickly, within a few days. The columbine won't sprout until next spring but I sowed them anyway as an experiment since I have a whole bowl filled with seeds to work with--my daughter gave me all the stems from her plants with dozens of ripe seedpods.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 5:26AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Seeds that require stratification when taken from dry storage, will often grow easily if planted fresh from the plant, without stratification. Here in our mild winters, I plant many perennial seeds directly from the fresh seed heads, as soon as they are ripe. As small plants they go through the winter and are raring to go with the spring warming. Saves a year, and at my age I need it. Al

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:42AM
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Thanks for that information Al!! Maybe my columbine seeds will sprout after all--they're fresh out of the seedpods. I SO enjoyed my columbines when they bloomed this year! Their pretty colors sure were a welcome sight after our long, cold horrible, snowy winter.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 12:16PM
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What did you mean by Burpee? That was the brand of seed you used, or you used the Burpee seed starting system? I started plants from seeds for the first time this year. I used the Burpee seed starting kit (tray of 72 soil pellets on a capillary mat, with a water reservoir beneath, no heat lamp, just set next to a window) and had great luck with zinnia (of course), shasta daisy Alaska, and hollyhock. At first, I thought the kit was a huge disappointment, as I got great germination rates but it was almost impossible to remove the seedlings without killing them. What ended up happening, though, was that after mid-late spring, I ran out of steam planting stuff outside, and I just left my seed tray outside, watering regularly. The seedlings continued to grow. Then, I went on vacation for 10 days and so I set the seed tray on the ground in a sunny area where it would get watered by our sprinklers which were on a timer. The plants grew like wildfire! That was early July. I finally got up the energy to plant the plants - the hollyhock seedlings are huge (I never thought they'd finally get big), and I repotted each shasta daisy in a 6" plastic pot leftover from other perennials I bought at a garden center. I now have about 16 plants in such pots - they're growing rapidly and I will plant them in the ground in early August. No, I won't get blooms this year, but I should get them this year. Delayed gratification. The zinnia, it goes without saying, are doing fantastically - if only they were perennials.

I've also just planted purple coneflower seeds directly in the ground per the seed packet instructions, and hope they will come up, as it's very warm out and I am keeping them moist. I know that my other experience won't help you this season, but it's an approach you might want to take next year. When I transplanted seedlings into the ground in spring when the were very small, almost none lived. Now that they are much larger they're thriving after transplant. I wouldn't have thought seedlings would do well growing for 3.5 months in a 1" cell, but they did. I've got over $100 worth of shasta daisies for about $1. Worth it? In the end, yes. Of course $100 isn't all that much and it might have been easier to just buy the plants, but now that the plants are larger and look like they'll survive just fine, I'm satisfied with the effort I put in. I think I'll try it next year. It's an ongoing process. I'm not basing my entire garden on seeds, but since I'm in it for a fairly long haul, I figure I can help fill out my garden cheaply doing some stuff from seed.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 2:16PM
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I just realized this is an old post someone dredged up and the OP hasn't been back since 2010.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 2:18PM
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