A Nice Indoor Surprise on a Cool Spring Day

On a blustery spring day, when the weather can’t decide between overcast and partly sunny, it was a pleasant surprise to find the first seedlings sprouting under the grow lights. I didn’t expect to see any green when I checked the moisture content of the seed starting medium this morning, as I had just planted nine varieties of seeds three days ago.

Several of the cells of Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’ (Bachelor Button) had sprouted with a single pair of paddle-shaped leaves.

Two sprouts of Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’ (Ornamental Millet) poked their tiny spires through the soil as well.

I am using 24-cell Accelerated Propagation System trays from Gardener’s Supply to grow these two varieties as well as:

  • Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
  • Passiflora (Passionflower)
  • Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’
  • Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Alaska’ (Shasta Daisy)
  • Penstemon grandiflorus ‘Esprit’
  • Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
  • Gomphrena ‘QIS Mix’ (Globe Amarath)

These seed starting trays have a water reservoir beneath the tray and a wicking mat that brings water up to the cells from the bottom. The idea is that the seedlings will remain evenly moist throughout the germination process. I’ll bashfully admit that I’ve never grown annuals and perennials from seed, and these seed trays might be an overpriced gimmick, but I like the idea of not having to constantly check moisture levels. And the trays are reusable, so all I’ll have to do later in the season and next year is clean them and add new seed starting medium.

Also new under the grow lights are 10 Clematis plugs — five ‘Jackmanii’ (dark purple blooms) and five ‘Nelly Moser’ (white and lavender blooms) — that I bought bareroot at Sam’s Club a few days ago for $24 total. It was a great price for that many Clematis, so I’m hoping to give them a strong start indoors before planting them outdoors later this spring. The Clematis don’t get any fancy container treatment; they’re planted in 20 ounce plastic party cups with holes punched in the bottom.

These new young plants have joined the three varieties of Solenostemon scutellarioides (Coleus) — ‘Religious Radish’ (back left), ‘Trailing Dark Heart’ (center), and ‘Twist and Twirl’ (right) — that I overwintered from a few cuttings in early fall. I’d planned to take a third round of cuttings from these Coleus to create even more plants for our containers, but they’ve grown into such healthy looking plants, I’m now tempted to wait a couple more weeks and put them out in the garden as is.

The cool air and strong breeze kept us inside for most of today, so it was a nice surprise to view the progress of the plants in our makeshift indoor nursery.

(I have no affiliation with Gardener’s Supply Company except as a customer.)

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