Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Growing Zinnias from Seed

One of the most rewarding experiences for me is the opportunity to grow flowering plants from seed, and it can be for you too. An easy plant to start with is the zinnia, and now is the time to get your seeds for some GREAT summer blooms.
For years, I have used Johnny's Selected Seeds www.johnnyseeds.com/  for my cut flower zinnias. They carry the Benary's Giant Series (the best zinnia for cut flowers), and Johnny's offers them as separate colors as well as a mix of colors.
I purchase seed starting trays from the big box stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot. Many come with potting medium plugs (I take these out and save them for other seeds). I prefer to bagged seed starting mix for my zinnias and this is what I fill the trays with.
Simply pour some of the medium into a bucket. Mix with just enough water to make a crumbly mixture- you don't want it to be soggy wet.
 Fill the seed tray up with the mix, and tamp down a little. I then press a zinnia seed into each cell of the tray and cover with a little of the mixture and water. NOTE: the bottom has no drainage holes so be careful with your watering. You want to keep the mixture moist. You do not want to have the cell tray sitting in water. If this happens, carefully remove the cell tray and dump the water from the lower tray. 
In about three to seven days, you should see the zinnia seedlings starting to emerge.
 I use grow lights and a heat mat for zinnias. With the warmer weather coming you could place the tray in a protected sunny area outside, BUT be sure to bring it in overnight when temperatures drop into the 40's or below.
If you are concerned about forgetting your seedlings outside, you could opt for a sunny window, or delay planting until the temperatures are warmer at night. Zinnias can be planted outside anytime after our frost date of April 15th. I usually do several plantings up through late June.
You will be rewarded with tons of beautiful flowers. Questions- don't hesitate to email me!

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