Starting Seeds and Bulbs Indoors

Why are we starting seeds indoors?

There are many reasons why are starting seeds indoors. Some people are looking for varieties that they cannot find otherwise. Some people like to get a head start on the season and be involved in growing as early as possible. Another reason for starting your own plants indoors is to save some money when you have a large amount of plants to grow. Yet another reason to start your own plants indoors is to ensure how they are gown, and what products are used on them.

What are the differences between seeds, cuttings, bulbs, and bareroot perennials? Seeds come from the plants after they flowers. Seeds can vary in many ways, from being extremely small to very large, thick skinned or thin skinned and a wide variety of shapes and colours. Cuttings are made from a mother plant and then planted in growing medium. These cuttings or slips will then grow roots and product a new plant. Bulbs are basically food storage containers for plants. This means that everything needed to get the plant to grow is stored in the bulb itself. Bareroot perennials are root masses that are stored in peat moss after being split and prepared by the nursery. Unlike bulbs, they do not have any food stored in them and will need to be fertilized just like seedlings and cuttings.

What soil should I use when I start seeds and bulbs indoors? Ideally the soil used indoors should be weed, insect and fungus free. A sterilized soil is not available for sale, however, a soil less mix does offer the same benefits as well as a few others. "Pro-Mix" is a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and nutrients. This is an excellent choice when starting seeds indoors as it is light and less susceptible to the problems often associated with regular soil.

What is damping off? Damping off is a disease that strikes seedlings during their very early development. Characterized by a spindly stem that blackens at the point of contact with the soil, damping off will cause the seedlings to break and die. This can wipe out an entire seeding tray in a day or less. This disease is usually caused by excess moisture and poor ventilation. In order to prevent this disease you should ensure that the seeding trays are not too overcrowded, which helps to allow for better ventilation, and also ensure the medium is not over-watered. There is a no treatment for this disease.

Should I use fertilizer when I am starting seeds indoors? After the seedlings have reached a 3 leaf stage you can use a transplanter/starting fertilizer at half the recommended rate of dilution. When you are growing bare root perennials you may use the transplanter as soon as you plant the roots.

Why do my plants get spindly and thin when I grow them indoors? When plants do not have enough light they grow tall and spindly searching for light. It is important to use a light unit that will give a full spectrum of light to the seedlings to allow them to develop normally.

How do I deal with white fungus on my soil? It is not uncommon to get powdery mildew on your soil when you have high humidity as well as poor ventilation. In order to prevent this problem, maintain plant trays that are thinned properly allowing for better air flow. In addition to this, do not over water, it is bad for the plant as well as bad for the soil.

What is the difference between scarifying and stratification? Some seeds have very specific requirements in order to get them to germinate. Scarifying is the act of softening the outer shell of the seed through scratching or cutting the seed. Stratification is the act of pre chilling or heating seeds before planting them. Most plants that have special requirements to germinate their seeds will list these requirements on the back of the seed package. For those who like to collect and trade seeds with others, a book such as “From Seed To Bloom” would be very helpful in determining the seeds needs.

Why should I not use water directly from the tap when I water seedlings? Water from the tap is cold, very cold in fact, and will chill the seedling every time you water them. The best thing to do is to have tepid water available for when you are watering your seeding trays and potted perennials and bulbs. When it comes to seeding trays, ideally you should immerse the tray in another tray filled with tepid water, then let the seeding tray stand to drain. This is better than watering from the top, and diminishes over watering.