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The Gardener's A-Z Guide to  Growing Flowers from Seed to Bloom

The Gardener's A - Z Guide
to Growing Flowers from Seed to Bloom

by Eileen Powell
Storey Publishing, 2004

Planting indoors or outdoors, gardeners will find well-grounded advice for growing beautiful and abundant flowers from seed in this encyclopedic reference and guidebook to nearly 600 annuals, perennials, and bulbs.

Growing flowers from seed has significant advantages, author Eileen Powell points out. Exotic or unusual varieties of flowers are often unavailable and local nurseries, and large-scale plantings of almost any variety can be cost prohibitive.

"Starting your own plants from seed can help you overcome these challenges and achieve your goal, whether it is to grow unusual, hard-to-find plants or to have dozens of healthy plants at an affordable price," Powell explains. "Indeed, most gardeners are first prompted to venture down the seed-starting road by that great motivator, necessity."

The plant entries, arranged alphabetically from Abelmoschus (hibiscus) to Zinnia, offer a brief narrative about the plant followed by details on sowing, germinating, transplanting, propogating and caring for the seedling. Here's a sample entry for Paracayum:

Only one species of this genus is commonly available -- P. coelestinum. This charming 2' tall plant features silvery foliage and 1 1/2" flowers of a beautiful sky blue. An easy plant for the border.

Type: Biennial
Zone 8-10
Flowering Season: All summer

Indoors: September to March
Outdoors: July to October
Depth: Surface

Time: 7-21 days

Time: After last frost or autumn.
Spacing: 12"
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Light, well drained.

Easy. Water during dry spells.

Grow from seed.

"I wrote this book partly out of frustration with the irrelevant details I had to wade through to track down the information I needed. Stories about the author's grandmother's passion for double tulips make for a good read, but when I have the bulbs in hand, I want just the facts," Powell explains.

The Gardener's A - Z Guide to Growing Flowers from Seed to Bloom

the Growing Medium

As with many things in life, the preparation of a growing medium can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it. If you like things simple, purchase a bag of ready-mixed growing medium and proceed to sow. If you want to concoct your own surefire super-soil, on the other hand, be prepared to draw on your knowledge of chemistry, alchemy, even sorcery. In my experience, however, the simpler method is usually quite successful.

Seedlings are often started in a soilless, nutrient-free medium, because an overabundance of nutrients is detrimental to plants in the very early stages of life. Seeds started in such a medium (generally labeled seed-starting mix) will require either frequent feeding in later life or transplanting to a container with a nutrient-rich, soil-based medium. Seeds started in individual containers should be sowed in a soil-based mixture that will sustain the plant during its life indoors. A good commercial potting soil mixed with a lighter substance (such as vermiculite) will suffice for this purpose. These seedlings can remain in the same container until they are ready to be transplanted outdoors.

Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007  All rights reserved.

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