Flower power: Starting a stunning garden from seeds

Ever see a yard where mounds of beautiful, fabulous flowers — from perpetual poppies to luxurious lavender — filled every landscaping bed in sight? Did you wonder how the gardener achieved such incredible results without going broke, buying flat after flat of flowers to populate his garden? How did he do it? One word: seeds.

Many homeowners and gardeners spend a bundle every year buying flowers at their local home center or nursery, thinking they’re taking the quickest, easiest route to achieve a gorgeous garden. But planting flowers started by someone else has some drawbacks, like the lack of control over the quality and durability of the plants and the cost of the plants – which can either force you to skimp on the number of flowers you plant, or go over budget.

Every year, more gardeners discover that starting their own plants from flower seeds is not only extremely economical, but satisfying and easier than they thought. You can choose from a multitude of flower seed varieties to customize your garden exactly as you’d like it. Outsidepride.com offers a good variety of flower seeds, from perennials to annuals, including wildflower seed choices. The seed experts at Outsidepride.com offer a few tips for starting your own flowers from seed this year:

* Start in early spring, depending on when the last expected frost date is for your area. If you’re starting seed indoors, check your seed packet to see how many weeks of growth are required before transplanting outdoors, and count back that many weeks from your last expected frost date.

* Starting seeds indoors is easy, enjoyable and can be beneficial. It is the safer way to plant since you’re in control of the elements and you’ll get better germination. Maintaining seedlings indoors will take a bit more diligence since you can’t rely on rain and sun to do the work for you.

* You might be tempted to start seeds indoors using soil from your garden. Use potting soil instead. It’s a better option because it contains peat, vermiculite and other fluffy matter that helps the soil retain water and drain well. It’s also free of diseases and insects. It doesn’t have any nutrients, though, so you’ll need to add those.

* If your home has a room or windowsill that receives a full day (at least eight hours) of sunlight, you can start your seedlings there. Most gardeners will need to provide supplemental lighting for seedlings to grow as strong and healthy as they would in natural sunlight.

You can also start wildflower seed and flower seeds outside. After all risk of frost is passed, rake a smooth soil surface for seeds. Remove rocks and clay clods, and comb the garden bed into a fine texture. Add compost and organic supplements to the flower beds and dig them in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Water the bed thoroughly and allow it to drain for at least 24 hours before planting.

You can mix small, fine seeds with sand to make it easier to get an even distribution of seed. Use the back of a spade to gently press fine seeds into the soil. Dig shallow trenches for larger seeds and hand place them as deep and far apart as is recommend on the seed packet. For both sizes of seeds, make sure the covering soil is fine and porous enough for young seedlings to push through.

Watering is always crucial. A fine hand-mister can prevent seeds from clumping together or washing away. Keep the soil evenly moist.

From daisies and dahlias to peonies, petunias and poppies, it’s possible to start virtually any kind of flower from seed and get that glorious garden you’ve always wanted and can easily afford. To view flower seed varieties and learn more about starting flowers from seeds, visit www.outsidepride.com.

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