Do You Know Where to Start Your Flower Seeds?

How do you choose whether to start seeds indoors or wait and start them outside? There are a few key things to consider when making this decision.

  • Light. Seeds that need light to germinate can be difficult to direct sow. The wind can easily blow them away, but a controlled environment lets us protect surface-sown seeds. If a seed must be covered by soil to germinate, it’s a better candidate for direct sowing.
  • Temperature. Seeds that germinate at the soil temperatures which naturally exist outside in our climate can be direct sown, but if we need a colder or warmer soil temperature for germination, we choose to start indoors on a heat mat or the cool barn or basement.
  • Size. Very small seeds produce very small seedlings, and a blustery early-spring environment can be too harsh. If seeds needs extra growing time in a controlled environment to “beef up,” we start indoors. Caution: don’t baby your seedlings too much, or they’ll never be strong enough to weather the weather. We start the hardening-off process in a passive solar greenhouse as soon as possible to prevent stretching and to promote root growth in cooler growing temperatures.
  • Time to maturity. If a variety needs a longer growing period than my seasonality allows, I will start indoors to give the seedlings extra growing time before planting in the field after our last late-April frost.
  • Availability/Difficulty. I am more protective of very precious seeds. If seeds are hard to obtain, if they are extra-tricky to germinate, or even if I just want to observe and “love on them” a little more, I’ll choose to start indoors.

We made a free downloadable flow chart to help you figure out if you should start your seeds inside or direct sow them outside.

Click on the image to open it up in a new tab. Then right click on it and choose the option to download.