Seeds are magic to gardens. Tuck them in soil, add a little water and you are on the way to a beautiful bloom or tasty harvest. Start seeds indoors to jump-start your garden. Whether or not you have experience starting seeds, you will improve your success by avoiding these common errors.
For flowers, feed at time of planting and then repeat every 4 months during the growing season.
For roses, initial feeding in the spring prior to bud break, just after bud break or at time of planting.
For roses, second feeding, 4 months after the initial feeding. Cease feeding 2 months before the first expected frost to allow canes to harden-off and prepare for winter.
New roses, established roses, container roses and flowers.
New Roses: sprinkle 1/2 cup fertilizer on the soil surface around the base of the rose bush.
Established Roses: sprinkle evenly 1/2 cup fertilizer on the soil surface around the base of the rose bush.
Container Roses: Sprinkle evenly recommended amount of fertilizer around the base of the rose bush. (1 gallon container= 1 teaspoon. 3 gallon container= 1 tablespoon. 5 gallon container= 2 tablespoons, 1/8 cup).
Flowers: sprinkle 3/4 cup fertilizer evenly over a 5 foot x 5 foot area. May be worked into top 1/4-inch of soil if desired
Every 6 weeks throughout the growing season.
Roses, flowers, iris, hibiscus, azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and other shrubs. Not for use on lawns.
Fill measuring cap to top of inner circle, 2 ounces.
Azaleas, Camelias & Rhododendrons: 1/2 capful per foot of plant height.
Roses: 1 capful per plant.
Shrubs: 1/2 capful per foot of plant height.
Flower Beds: 1/2 capful per 12 square feet, 3 feet x 4 feet bed area.
To prevent listed insect, mite or disease infestations or to control them when they first appear.
Outdoors on roses, flowers, houseplants, ground covers, vines, ornamentals, shrubs and trees. For use on non-edible plants only.
Dilute 2.67 fluid ounces (5+1/4 tablespoons) concentrate in 1 gallon of water
Seed-Starting Mistake #1: Catalog Hypnosis
It is tough to resist the beautiful pictures and glowing words in seed catalogs. Even experienced gardeners struggle to resist the allure. That is the first mistake most seed starters make: ordering too many seeds. A simple secret to success with seed-starting is exercising self-restraint. If you are new to the practice, do not start too many different types of seeds. Stick with simple ones, such as Tomato, Basil, Zinnia or Cosmos.
Seed-Starting Mistake #2: Starting Too Soon
In many regions, sowing seeds gives you a chance to get your hands dirty when it is too cold to garden outdoors. Do not start your seeds too soon. Most plants are ready to shift into the great outdoors in 4-6 weeks. Learn more about perfect timing for seeds.
Seed-Starting Mistake #3: Planting Too Deep
Read seed packets carefully, for detailed information about how deep to plant seeds. The rule of thumb is to plant seeds at a depth equal to two or three times their width. It is better to plant seeds too shallow than too deep. Some seeds, such as certain Lettuces or Snapdragon, need light to germinate and should not be covered at all.
Seed-Starting Mistake #4: Not Labeling Trays
Once you start sowing seeds and get dirt on your fingers, you will not want to stop and make labels. Before planting, prepare labels and add them to containers as soon as the seeds go into soil. Otherwise, it can be tough to tell seedlings apart. Be sure to include sowing date on your labels.
Seed-Starting Mistake #5: Soil Is Not Warm
Seed packets specify the temperature seeds need to germinate – soil temperature, not air temperature. Most seed germinate at 78ºF. You will have sure success if you use a waterproof root-zone heating mat. Once you start germinating seeds in soil, aim to keep soil temperature in the 65-70ºF range.
Seed-Starting Mistake #6: Too Little Light
In the warmest regions of the country, there is enough ambient light in a south-facing window to grow stocky seedlings. In northern areas where winter brings persistent cloud cover, you will need supplemental lights. Purchase or build an illuminated plant stand to start seedlings. For stocky, healthy seedlings, provide 14-16 hours of light daily. Suspend lights 2-3 inches above seedlings.
Seed-Starting Mistake #7: Water Woes
How much water do seeds need? For seeds to germinate, you need to keep the growing soil damp but not too wet. Learning how to water seedlings is pivotal for success. Many seed starters cover the container to keep soil moist until seeds germinate. Once seeds sprout, do not miss a watering. Unlike established plants, seedlings do not have an extensive root system they can rely on for vital moisture. At the same time, it is important not to overwater and let seedlings sit in water.
Seed-Starting Mistake #8: Not Enough Pampering
Seedlings are delicate creatures. They need daily attention and lots of tender loving care, especially when they are young. If you cannot monitor seedlings daily, checking on germination, soil moisture, temperature, and lights, you will definitely reduce your chances of success. Seedlings do not survive neglect.
Learn More About Starting Seeds
Not sure you want to start seedlings? Learn why you should consider starting your own seeds.
Seedlings must be prepared for the transition to life in the garden. Learn how to strengthen seedlings before planting.
Some seeds can be sown directly into soil outdoors. Learn more about the process and which seeds are best for this method.