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How to Direct Sow?

Posted by dcrosby 5MA (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 20, 12 at 15:18

Dear Garden folk
all right...i've been sold (from thoughts from another post)that direct sowing is the answer to grow happy, healthy Zinnia.
Question is
do i dig a hole and place the seed in and cover lightly(as 'From Seed to Bloom says) or do I just scratch the surface?
How many seeds to put down per prospective plant?
should i use a soil conditioner like compost?
Should I water them regularly (which would be difficult in my for me to do) how long do I need to baby them?
Thanks so much!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to Direct Sow?

I wouldn't bury zinnia seeds too deep. I've typically fluffed up the ground where I'm going to plant them broadcast them, and sprinkled some soil over, and water gently (you don't want to wash the seeds away - use a can for this, not the hose). Unless there is rain, I do water daily for several days - the sun and wind dry things faster outside. Then I usually get busy with something else and forget about them until they sprout.

RE: How to Direct Sow?

Problems with direct sowing are doing it too soon and not preparing the soil well enough. If you are going to amend the soil, do it way ahead of seeding. The same goes for baiting for slugs. The birds will be very interested in any seed bed preparation and ready to eat the seed OR the seed leaves as they emerge. I cover with a wire like chicken wire to protect from the birds. Al

RE: How to Direct Sow?

doesn't sound easy but i'm thinkin' that this is the way to go for zinnia

thanks for the help!


RE: How to Direct Sow?

I find it to be quite easy assuming you are talking about a prepared flower bed. If not, you have to do that first by tilling if it is a new bed, working in the fertilizer/compost, cleaning out any rocks, etc. And then you wait till the proper time to plant them.

Here's what I do with my already made beds. 10 days to 2 weeks after any threat of frost I rake out any winter trash that may have accumulated, rake a couple of inches of the top soil to the side of the bed, scatter the seeds, lightly recover the seeds by hand (you can also use a bag of potting mix to do this) with the soil I raked aside, pat it down lightly with the rake and water well with a sprinkler. Keep the surface of the soil slightly moist until the seeds sprout and then thin as needed.

From then on it is just water as needed.


RE: How to Direct Sow?

I sow mine about 1/2 inch below the surface. Just poke a little hole with my finger, put in a seed and cover. I sow them about 4-5 inches apart. The seedlings are very easy to transplant if you want to move them around or thin them later.

RE: How to Direct Sow?

got it! (i can do this)

RE: How to Direct Sow?

Most seeds you don't want to plant too deep. Zinnia seeds are pretty big though. I would err on the side of a deeper planting of like an inch. I do this because the weight and compression of the dirt helps the newly growing seedling to pull its shell off. I'm sure that many of us have seen the ones that come up that still have darn thing attached. I hate to mess around with Mother Nature's gyrations, but I have been known to pull the capsule off of a seedling that came up with it's hat still firmly on. They often don't make it and it is nice to NOT have to do this. So yeah, given the size of zinnia seedlings, I would go ahead and plant them deep (for a seed).
Sweet pea sized seeds, sunflowers, and lupines: like 1&1/2 to 2 inches deep
Zinnia sized seeds: like 1 inch deep
Broccoli sized seeds: 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch
Coleus, Petunias and other tinies: I sow them on the surface and then cover with a layer of sand
Specials like Aquilegia (Columbines): surface sow because their shiny black hull absorbs and needs the sunlight

I like to sow deep because I really don't want to help them out of their coats.

RE: How to Direct Sow?

I've always been told that the rule of thumb for covering seeds is to cover them as deep as their own thickness. Thus, I barely cover zinnias, but I poke a knuckle-deep hole for moon vine seeds.

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