FLOWERING ANNUALS — like the pink petunias above — grow so readily from seed it is really extravagant to obtain them any other way. Most can be winter-sown outdoors; for extra-early bloom, however, I like to start at least some of the seeds indoors, under fluorescent lights. Here is a handy schedule for indoor-sowing:
INDOOR SEED-STARTING SCHEDULE FOR FLOWERING ANNUALS (Listed by weeks before average last spring frost)
Transplant seedlings to outdoor garden after the last spring frost; plants marked (*) can be transplanted after the last heavy frost
12 Weeks. Pansy*
10 Weeks. Snapdragon*; Sweet William; Zonal Pelargonium (Geranium); Lobelia; Impatiens; Ageratum
8 Weeks. Alyssum; Aster*; Bells of Ireland*; Calendula*; Celosia; Coleus; Cornflower (Bachelor Button); Dahlia; Marigold; Nicotiana; Petunia; Portulaca; Salvia; Stock; Sweet Pea*; Zinnia
6 Weeks. Cleome (Spider Flower); Four O’Clocks; Morning Glory; Nasturtium*; Sunflower
4 Weeks. Cosmos*
The National Climatic Data Center will tell you the average last frost date for your area. Here, in my Hudson Valley zone 5-b garden, that date is May 17.
Early bloom, endless variety, and tremendous cost-savings — these are just three good reasons to start your summer annuals indoors. And, growing your own rather than buying plants from a local nursery really makes you feel like a gardener. Well, a self-sufficient gardener, anyway.
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