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Get a Jump on Spring: A Guide to Starting Seeds & Bulbs for a Spectacular Season

Spring is just around the corner! That makes this the perfect time to start planning your garden for those spectacular summer blooms and bountiful harvests. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just beginning to dip your toes into the soil, starting your plants indoors will give them a head start and ensure a vibrant and fruitful season. Let’s dive into the world of seeds and summer blooming bulbs.  This guide to starting seeds & bulbs will take you through each step to transform your garden into a summer spectacle.

Why Start Seeds Indoors?

Starting seeds indoors presents numerous advantages. You can cultivate heirloom or rare varieties not commonly found, yielding earlier summer blooms and harvests. Utilizing sterile seed-starting soil minimizes the threat of pests and diseases often encountered outdoors. Indoor growth enables precise control over temperature, humidity, and light, fostering ideal conditions for robust germination and seedling development. Plus, the process of nurturing seeds indoors is both enjoyable and fulfilling!

  • Choose Your Containers: You can start seeds in almost any container, as long as it’s clean and has drainage holes. Here are a few of the best options:
    • Peat pots are not only environmentally friendly but are very useful. You can plant the whole pot or cell when transplanting into the ground, reducing the risk of root shock and damage.
    • Conventional flats are available in many sizes, some with removable cells. They provide maximum efficiency for space if space is an issue.
  • Select the Right Soil: Using high-quality seed-starting soil will set you up for success. These soils are designed to provide a sterile environment with proper drainage to get your seeds off to a strong and healthy start.
  • Plant Your Seeds: Every plant variety is different. Always follow the seed packet instructions for timing, depth, and spacing. Once planted, cover lightly with additional soil and gently water.
  • Provide Warmth: Most seeds require a temperature of 65-75°F to germinate effectively. Maintain them in a warm location or utilize a heat mat to ensure they receive the warmth they need for optimal germination.
  • Ensure Adequate Light: Light is essential for growing plants from seeds. Without sufficient light, seedlings can become elongated and weak. Use a specially designed grow light to provide your seedlings with the necessary illumination, or a cool white 40-watt bulb. Most seedlings should receive 12-14 hours of light per day. Position the bulbs no more than 3″ from the top of the seedlings to promote strong growth. Avoid placing seedlings under lights or in direct sunlight until their cotyledons (also known as “baby leaves”) have been out of the soil for at least one day. This precaution helps prevent burning the tender tissues of your new seedling. 
  • Keep the Soil Moist: When planting seeds, ensure your soil is moist but not saturated. Avoid letting the soil dry out or becoming waterlogged. Water in the morning to give plants time to absorb moisture. If your water contains chlorine, let it sit overnight before using. Consider using a water mister to prevent over-watering.

The Basics of Summer Bulbs

Bulbs hold a unique place in the gardening world. Think of them as self-contained treasure chests, packed with all the nutrients required for sprouting and flourishing. In Michigan, the tradition of starting bulbs indoors isn’t just about beating the late winter blues; it’s a strategic move to ensure our gardens are bursting with color and life throughout the summer. This approach not only gives us a leg up on the growing season but also allows for the creation of vibrant, lush displays that become the highlight of our summer gardens.

  • Choose Your Bulbs: When selecting bulbs for indoor forcing, it’s essential to choose healthy, firm bulbs and avoid any that are soft or show signs of mold. Additionally, consider the recommended starting time for planting to avoid leggy or weak growth. Bulbs can become leggy, or stretch out with long, thin stems, if they are planted too early or do not receive enough light during their growth period. This can happen when bulbs are started indoors and they stretch towards insufficient light sources, resulting in weak, spindly growth. By planting bulbs at the appropriate time and ensuring they receive adequate light, you can help prevent leggy growth and promote healthier, more robust plants. Some popular summer-blooming bulbs suitable for indoor forcing include dahlias, begonias, and cannas.
  • Prepare the Containers: Choose containers with drainage holes at the bottom that are appropriately sized for the bulbs you plan to plant. Larger bulbs, such as dahlias and cannas, typically require larger pots with more room for root growth, while smaller bulbs, like begonias, can thrive in smaller containers. Fill the containers halfway with high-quality potting mix, leaving some space for planting the bulbs.
  • Planting Your Bulbs: Plant the bulbs in the containers according to the recommended depth for each type of bulb. Cover the bulb with soil, making sure to leave enough room at the top for watering.
  • Provide Adequate Light: Place the containers in a sunny location indoors where they can receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Alternatively, you can use grow lights to provide supplemental lighting if natural light is insufficient.
  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the bulbs whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can cause bulb rot.
  • Maintain Temperature: Most summer-blooming bulbs thrive in warm temperatures. Keep the indoor environment consistently warm, ideally between 65-75°F, to encourage growth.

Transplanting Outdoors

Whether you’ve started with seeds or bulbs, transitioning to the outdoors is a critical phase. Gradually acclimate your plants to outdoor conditions over a week or two to harden them off. This process helps them adjust to the wind, sun, and temperature changes they’ll face outside.

From Seeds & Bulbs to Spectacular Blooms & Bountiful Harvests

Starting your garden indoors with seeds and bulbs is not just a rewarding endeavor. It’s also a strategic move for a more vibrant and productive garden. With patience and care, you can look forward to spectacular blooms and bountiful harvests throughout the summer. Remember, gardening is a journey, and each step—from sowing to harvesting—is a stride towards a greener, more beautiful world.

Embrace the start of this gardening season with Flowerland by your side. Visit us for all your gardening needs, from seeds and bulbs to advice, and let’s grow together into a spectacular summer.

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