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Some of the flowering annuals and perennials that are generally grown in the garden are easily propagated through sowing; in this way we will be able to obtain colors and varieties not easily found in nurseries, since it is not always easy to find all the plants we wish to plant in our flowerbeds.
It is not difficult to get small seedlings, but it is important to follow some basic rules.
It is essential to use good quality seeds; most of the flowering plants cultivated in the garden are hybrids of several species, therefore from the seeds we collect easily we get slightly different plants from the plant from which we got the seeds. Seed-producing specialists instead manage to make plants that are all alike from their seeds; It is important, however, to choose excellent seed dealers who can guarantee the appearance of future seedlings. Otherwise we risk obtaining, for example, violets of a thousand colors in the flowerbed in which we intended to plant orange violets.
Often the best quality seeds are slightly more expensive than the others, but they guarantee the result of sowing; if instead we want a multicolor effect and we are not necessarily interested in all equal plants we can also buy the seeds at random, remembering however that often we will get simple flowers from sachets of double-flowered plants, or other such problems.
The soil is also essential for sowing; we must use a soft compound that maintains moisture. Traditionally, chopped peat is used, mixed in equal parts with sand; before sowing, this compound is moistened and kept moist.
If possible, before sowing it is advisable to obtain vermiculite or perlite, these inert, light and light-colored materials are excellent for covering seeds, protecting them from insects and drought.
Most of the flowering plants can be sown directly at home; in the spring months, when the night temperatures are already close to 10-15 ° C, we can prepare the flowerbed, working the soil well with hoe and rake, in order to obtain a smooth and soft surface. let's water the flowerbed well and proceed sowing it with a thin layer, trying to spread the seeds evenly, avoiding to create too dense areas or bare areas. The sown soil should be kept humid until the seeds have completely germinated, to make it difficult to desiccate the superficial substrate layer we cover the area sown with perlite or vermiculite, which will keep the humidity, avoiding removing sunlight from the seeds.
Generally the plants that are sown in the open ground are those with delicate root systems, such as escolzia or nasturtium, but in general all plants found in nature in the areas surrounding the garden can easily be sown in the open ground, directly in the dwelling.
Some plants, on the other hand, are necessarily sown in seedbeds; this method allows us, first of all, to prepare our seed plants already in January-February, when it would be impossible to sow directly in the garden, due to the low night temperatures; in this way then we can already prepare winter seedlings of annuals and perennials not originating from our climates, but coming from South America or Africa, which therefore need high temperatures to germinate, so that we will have small plants already well developed in spring.
Seeding in seedbeds then allows us to prepare any plant in advance and then plant well-developed plants; in this way we can better prepare our flowerbeds, choosing better where to place each single plant.
The term seedbed refers to any container of soil in which to sow; generally small pots are used, with a diameter of 7-10 cm, but we can also easily find multi-hole seed trays, or even rectangular trays without holes. It is also good to get some saucers for these containers, so as to be able to wet the soil without touching the seeds.
The container of our choice must be filled with a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts, then placed in the saucer and watered abundantly, so that the whole mixture is well moist. Then we proceed to sowing; depending on the type of seed chosen, a single seed will be placed for each hole in the seedbed, or for each jar, or some small seeds for each space. The seed is pressed well, so that it adheres perfectly to the surface of the substrate and then covers itself with a layer of a few millimeters of vermiculite or perlite, to maintain moisture. Periodically we are going to vaporize the surface of the compound, or better yet we will add water to the inside of the saucer, so that it will moisten the substrate by capillarity.
If we intend to sow a few seeds in small containers we can also think of inserting the seedbed in a transparent plastic bag, in this way we will keep the humidity even better.
The seed beds are kept in areas with a mild climate, generally with minimums not less than 10-12 ° C; in general the trays for sowing are not very large, so it is easy to find a place to grow them: there are also small greenhouses.
Seeding flower plants: Small plants
As soon as the seeds have germinated we proceed, in full ground, to thin out the seedlings, keeping only the best developed ones; instead in seedbeds we will generally get the right number of plants, if instead our container is overcrowded we proceed to thin out the shoots. Now we can take the seedbed out of the plastic bag, if we had used this device to maintain more moisture.
It is very important that the young plants can enjoy good lighting, so that they have a healthy and balanced development; It is also essential that our future plants have the right nourishment: at the beginning of their life the plants can take advantage of the nutrients present in the seed, with which they develop the first leaves and the first small roots; later we will have to insert water and mineral salts from the outside, so that the plant can produce the energy that it needs through photosynthesis.
So as soon as the plants have started to develop the same leaves as the plants already developed we will begin to add a small amount of fertilizer for flowering plants to the watering.
At this point the plants in seedbeds will be transplanted into individual containers, and then, after a few weeks, in pots or in the garden.