Stuff is happening in our basement that’s got me excited. The very first seeds of my very first attempt to start plants inside have germinated. So teeny, with their two cotyledons barely visible, but so cute!

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These are two varieties of Salvia that are grown as annuals here in Chicago: ‘Victoria’ and ‘Big Blue’. Only thing is I may have accidentally dropped all the ‘Victoria’ seeds in one of the two cells intended for them. The seeds were really tiny, and I planted them by carefully shaking the seed packet.

Actually, only 4 cells all together have been planted. These Salvia varieties are supposed to take 2-3 weeks to germinate, but actually they’ve only taken a little over 7 days. Insidde, you’re supposed to plant them 6-8 weeks before the frost free date.

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I bought a setup from Gardener’s Supply that has a total capacity of 48 cells. I bought the whole shebang: grow lights, heat mat, timer. Even a fan to keep the air circulating (well, the fan we already had). I know I could have done more of a DIY setup, but I figured this way would be quicker. Also, given that this was my first effort, I felt more confident by starting this way.

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Salvia ‘Big Blue’. Photo from

The rest of the cells will be filled in between next week and the middle of April. Another variety of Salvia (‘Victoria Blue’) will be planted in mid-March. Beginning of April will be Sunflowers and Mexican Sunflower. Finally, in mid-April the Basil and Zinnias get planted.

So far I’m having fun with our seed-starting experiment.

44 Comments on “Germination!”

  1. Your set up looks good. It doesn’t look too large from here. What are the dimensions? It is exciting to see these little starts popping up. One of my favorite salvias is the ‘Victoria Blue’. I can almost see it in my minds eye.

  2. I’m impressed!
    This year, I decided to try starting seeds indoors. I don’t have a basement, so my set-up is on a table near my back door. I didn’t go the Gardeners Suppky complete unit route, but dribs and drabs from here and there which end up as essentially the same thing. The lights arrived today. The heating pads are a plus from what I’ve tried before and have speeded up germination. An interesting experiment!

  3. Congratulations! Just a warning… it’s very addicting and satisfying. What better addiction to have though, right? My first set up was 2 shelves with lights that lowered down from a chain. Then I had my husband build a bigger one for me, then he made what I lovingly refer to as my seed condo. It is 8 shelves high and holds 16 flats. See the addiction? Salvias are an excellent choice to start with and be successful at. My favorite blue salvia is “Black and Blue”, almost black stems and beautiful green foliage with delightful blue flowers. I’ve had a hard time finding seeds though.

    If you find you did drop too many seeds in the cells, as soon as they develop their first 2 true leaves, pluck them out and replant in their own cells. Make sure to only pull by the leaves and not ever the stem. Enjoy your inside garden, I always almost hate taking them outside when the time comes as they are like my babies. Good luck. 🙂🌱

  4. Nice! I hope it keeps going well for you, the setup looks excellent.
    I was eyeing a bundle of seeds this past weekend. So far the cold weather has kept the guilt down and the panic at bay, but as soon as things start growing outside I’ll know I’m too late and need to get going!!

  5. I’ll echo other comments – starting your own seeds can be a bit addicting. And there’s nothing quite like wandering your garden in admiration armed with the knowledge that you reared this lovely plant all the way from seed.

  6. Hurray! It’s always such a thrill when those first few seedlings burst through the soil. I’ll be starting a bunch of annuals tomorrow. Our trip delayed things a bit, but several of the annuals I’m growing are new-to-me so the first year is always a bit of trial and error in terms of when to start them anyhow.

  7. I love this time of year with the excitement of watching the seeds all germinating. Pricking out is not so much fun or watching little seedlings damp off. I always grow far too many and then I can’t cope with all my children. But later we have the fun of showing off when people admire our plants and we can say: ‘I grew that from seed’.

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