A happy Mother’s Day to you. We celebrated Mother’s Day pandemic-style, with our offspring and their partners via a zoom brunch. It was a jolly online gathering.
Let’s move on to seed starting. With one exception, germination has gone well and the seedlings are healthy. We are growing Zinnias (3 varieties), Marigolds (2 varieties), Mexican Sunflower (species and 1 variety), ‘Italian White’ Sunflowers, plus several herbs: dill, cilantro, parsley, and basil (Thai and Genoese).
Now it’s time to start thinking about the timing of moving these plants outside. We’ve already moved the cilantro, dill, and parsley outside, where we also sowed seeds of each of these herbs.
So far this year there’s been one significant problem. Ironically, it’s been the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). We began with seed starting entirely because we lost our source for Mexican Sunflower plants.
Anyway, the seedling leaves were dying, first along the edges, then moving inwards from there. I was advised to raise the grow lights, but that didn’t seem to help. Ultimately I pulled all the seedlings and replanted. However, all the other plants seem totally healthy.
The Caladium bulbs arrived and were planted in pots. The bulbs are vastly cheaper than plants at a nursery. Now they sit on a heat mat on the back porch. Caladiums need warm weather to go outside so I hope I’ll be able to move them by the first weekend in June. Meantime Judy tolerates the mess I am making here.
Pretty much all the pots for the Front Garden this year will be filled with plants grown from seed. I did buy a couple of annual Salvia (Salvia farinacea) so there will be some blue to break up all the orange, red, and yellow.
Otherwise it will just be Zinnias and Marigolds, with some Sweet Alyssum for filler. Pretty basic, I admit. But Zinnias and Marigolds are awesome plants, it’s a mistake to turn one’s nose up at them because they are common.
For one thing, they are very popular with pollinators, including hummingbirds and butterflies.
I’m thinking we will move the Marigolds outside next weekend, then wait until the end of the month for the Zinnias and Sunflower. The Mexican Sunflower will go last, probably in early June.
Are you starting seeds indoors this year? Has your seed starting gone according to plan?
Beautiful pictures! I, too, had a Zoom Mother’s Day. Thank goodness for Zoom!
And a month ago I had no idea it existed.
I can’t imagine what would have caused what you’ve described. It doesn’t sound like damping off. That usually hits the stem first.
The other seedlings you’ve shown look good and healthy with no stretching.
Happy Mother’s Day to Judy!
Some people suggested tiny insect pests, I forget the name. I just decided to try again.
At first I thought your ‘tangerine gem’ marigold was one of our native plants: Texas flax, or Linum hudsonioides. Nope, not at all. No matter. That marigold is beautiful. Best of luck with that Mexican sunflower!
So ‘Tangerine Gem’ is in fact derived from a wild marigold, Tagetes tenuifolia, that grows through much of Mexico and Central America. It is also known as Signet Marigold.
I sow seeds for most of my vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and that has gone according to plan, but I’m none too sure about planting out at the usual times this year because the weather doesn’t seem at all “usual.” Didn’t you and Judy just have a snow where you are? And where I live (Appalachian Virginia), the freezes are usually over before the end of April, but we’ve have a slew of them lately. I no longer trust weather forecasts. I read at 6 a.m. that my temperature is currently 39 degrees, but that doesn’t fit with the sturdy veneer of ice on top of my animals’ water bowl when I step outside. So my cool-weather crops and hardy herbs are doing very well in the earth gardens, but I have a feeling my warm-weather seedlings may need to be potted-up to larger digs before they go in the ground.
This year, nothing at all seems to be the usual.
That seems to be true here as well. We did have a bit of snow in early May, and so far May really feels more like April. Lots are things are delayed in leafing out or blooming.
That’s a lot of promise growing there! Good! I think summer was invented expressly for the growing of zinnias and marigolds, and I will never consider them common. Adding the blue is inspired.
Shucks. Maybe a little inspired.
The weather has been unpredictable (mostly in a bad way) so I’m hold off on planting anything for at least a week. This year, I’ve scaled way back as I need to do a lot of work on the “bones” of the garden – and finally realized that I couldn’t do it all! For ornamentals, I’m mainly growing zinnias and Mexican sunflowers plus a few coleus that I got through the winter – but just barely. They need to get outside asap.
Hi Margaret! Hard to do better than zinnias and Mexican sunflowers. I’ve never tried to get my coleus through the winter – can they tolerate cool temperatures?
I’ve got to start doing seeds. It sure looks like fun.
This is just my second day.
Hi Jason. It‘s always tricky knowing when to put things outside and I do get impatient as space gets scarce, but we have frosts forecast for tonight and the next few nights so I am currently gathering all the bits of garden fleece I can find to cover things up! My seedlings are in a cold frame and mini greenhouse on the patio… sheltered but still down to 0°C if it‘s frosty! I have zinnias, sunflowers and tithonia too. My tithonia seedlings all looked a little sickly until we had some really warm but overcast weather a couple of days ago and they are perking up. I always have to sow them myself as I have never seen them as plants, or indeed in any other gardens here. Mine germinate quickly but then take ages to get going. Hope your new batch does better for you. Maybe it is just warmth they need. And talk to them nicely! 😉
I think the TIthonias really do want warm weather to be happy.
The seedlings look great! I’m sure the Tithonia will work out, sometimes I start a few pots of zinnias and such and just put the pots outside to sprout and they do just fine, blooming just a little later than the others. It’s actually a little insulting after all the work I put into the earlier stuff.
Did you order the caladiums online or pick them up locally? If online, where? -asking for a friend…
I ordered the Caladiums from Brent and Becky’s – great source for bulbs and plants, too.
Oh, if only our seedlings could talk to us, huh? Based on Cathy’s comment, perhaps some time on the heat mat?? At this point you might as well experiment with them. Hope round two goes better! My seed starting has been touch and go. I’m learning how to use my little 6×6′ unheated greenhouse to best advantage with my seedlings. The first thing I learned was that I should have gotten a 6×8′! The 2nd thing I learned was that, if you’re gonna have a mild freeze, you can heat the GH with 8 votive candles. Get up at 4a.m., go out and light candles (GH at 38°inside). At 8a.m. GH temp is 50°, outside is 30°. I was amazed!
That is astonishing, who knew!
I am 100% with you on choice of plants. They must be beautiful but they must work for their space too and attract life and movement to the garden. Whether they are common or not does not bother me. I have tried T. rotundifolia but they do not work here, I think my soil is too dry. I picked up some seeds of a T. diversifolia in Spain but I have only managed to get two seedlings to germinate. This might be a tougher plant, I’ll see. I love those “Tangerine gem” Marigolds. Amelia
I didn’t know about the other Tithonia species. Hope that it works well for you!
I only start seeds outside. Unfortunately I tried earlier but it has been so cold and frosty nothing took. I will have to try again this weekend.
Definitely too cold to start a lot of things outside from seed. I was at a Home Depot today and saw some poor basil plants shivering in the cold. I rescued a couple of them.
I am so glad you posted you were having some challenges with the Mexican sunflower seeds. Most of mine are okay, but I have a few that had black spots so I’ve been picking those leaves off and the three plants that were the worst I’ve dunked in baking soda water to see if I can stop it. Mine have been on the windowsill for a while now, but I’m not sure they’ll make it. Fingers crossed. Maybe I can’t be too greedy since my two pots of tulips survived and bloomed. 🙂
I’ve never tried baking soda water. Did it work?
I’m impressed with all the seedlings you are growing… and zinnias and marigolds May be common but they are colourful and useful ..and they don’t mind the Aussie heat in summer.. a winner!
Tough and beautiful, that’s hard to beat.
Good to see all those delightful, healthy seedlings. How odd re the others dying out! Lovely to see all the wildlife pics again. Here’s to a lovely summer, looking forward to seeing all those plants in pots.xxx
Maybe if I’d known I was going to be spending so much time at home I might have been tempted to start seeds inside. What an amazing array of plants you have going!
I am running out of space for the seeds I have started, which includes many zinnias, salvias, nicotianas along with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I am looking forward to when I can start transitioning these outdoors so I can free up some space. I haven’t started my caladiums yet- love the heat mat idea for them.
The heat mat definitely helps. I’m thinking I can start moving stuff outside in one week.
Gorgeous photos, Jason. And I’m glad to hear that your second effort was a charm with the tithonia. To see seedlings wilt or die off is always so frustrating.
My seed got a late start this year. I really only developed the garden because I got so much time off of work. Anyway, as always, there were too many seedlings. Just today, I found someone who will take the surplus. I always feel obligated to plant it somewhere.
A seedling is a terrible thing to waste.
Unless it is for a carrot. Yuck!
LOOKING GOOD! I haven’t done much seed starting since I left Mississippi. I don’t really have an adequate area here. I did get the garden all planted and I have seed sent to me by a few people I am going to give a whirl. Thanks for sharing!
You don’t really need that much space, a desktop can be sufficient. Time can be more of a challenge.
Well, in Mississippi I had five sunrooms. Here only one window that gets enough light for seedlings. I used to use cold frames when I lived here before but I need to build a new one… A work in progress.
All sort of going to plan on the seed front, I did manage to prick put what I thought was sanguisorbia, .. to realise a week later I had pricked our chickweed – Live and learn !
It’s so hard when they’re all tiny like that.