Start Zinnia Seeds Indoors For Early Blooms
By: Chris VanCleave, Helena Beautification Board Chairman
If there is one flower I must have in the garden other than roses, it is zinnias. One of the easiest flowers to grow, Zinnias provides a multitude of blooms all season long. To get a jump start on the season, I typically sow seeds indoors in early March and by the time April comes round, I’m ready to plant them in the ground or in containers.
I start with Jiffy seed pellets. Very inexpensive (less than $3) at local stores.
Place the seed pellets them in a tray or other container. I have one seed starting tray that I bought several years ago for this purpose, and I reuse it every year, but any container will do. I also use pie pans, butter bowls or the proverbial dixie cup, they all work well.
Add warm water to cover the pellets. (To encourage early germination, I use a mixture of composted manure tea and warm water.) The warm water will cause them to expand. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes for the expansion to occur. Like Jiffy Pop Popcorn, kids love to watch this happen.
I then dig into my trusty Seed Keeper and select seeds. A Seed Keeper type container is a great way to organize my seed collection.
Once expanded, I use the tools from my Seed Keeper to take seeds and insert into the top of the expanded pellet, then lightly cover the top of the seed.
Cover the planted seeds and place in direct light for 5-7 days. According to most seed companies, seeds will germinate in 10-14 days. By adding the composted manure tea to the mix, germination will happen in 5-7 days. That may not seem like a big difference to some, but to me it mean additional days this summer I will have blooms and I’ll take all the joy I can get….
You will see sprouts in no time and come April here in the deep south, i’ll be setting these out in the garden…. Come July, I will sow more seeds directly in the garden for blooms in the fall.
Get In The Garden Podcast - Grow Zinnias
Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian", Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing the world's most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith's Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the Top 100 places to live in the US. His writing is seen on About.com, HGTV, Home Depot Gardening Club and on his popular website; RedneckRosarian.com, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years' experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticulture societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.