Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Flower seeds that need to be planted in the Fall

This is an encore post, one that I did last summer, but good info to reread and know!


This is just good information to share… I was looking it up on the web and wanted to keep it for reference.  I have been taking out annuals and seeding this week in areas of my garden.  I missed out on sewing spring annual seeds last fall and want to enjoy them this coming spring!

Most gardeners do not worry about flower garden seeds until the late winter or early spring. In fact there are quite a few types of flower seeds that can be started in the fall when you may not have any gardening to do. Spring annuals, cool loving annuals, some perennials and biennials can all be started in the fall. These plants are a great way to fill out your garden when it starts to go to sleep in the fall. Sweet pea, sweet alyssum, candytuft and calendula are all cool loving annuals that can fill in holes in your garden as they grow quickly.
Some popular plants that can be started in the fall are the California poppy, California bluebell, blue woodruff, Mexican tulip poppy, calkia, snapdragon, bells of Ireland, scarlet sage, and love in the mist and more. Self-sowing annuals are very hardy plants and tend to be good plants to start in the fall as they can handle frosts.
Garden flower seeds that are sown in the fall also tend to have a higher rate of germination then those sown in the late winter or spring.

Biennials, which are plants that have a life cycle of two years, in which the first year the leaves grow and then the second year the flowers bloom are perfect for early sowing in the fall or late summer. Biennials that can be started in the fall include the evening primrose, Sweet William, hollyhock, Canterbury bells, foxglove, and black-eyed susan. There are a few perennials that can also be started early such as some sunflowers, salvia species, columbine, and the purple coneflower.

When you are starting flower garden seeds then you may have to treat those seeds in order for them to germinate. However certain seeds will have specific procedures that may be different from other seeds. Most perennial flowers seeds need a cold season also called cold stratification, which mimics winter. You can leave your seeds outside in the autumn or use a cold frame. Many times seeds are also treated with scarification, which roughens the seed coat so the seed can absorb more water.
Flower garden seeds can be soaked in warm water until they begin to burst, but they should be planted very soon. The timing for this can be quite difficult if it is your first time. Some seeds, mainly for shrubs and woody trees, need an acid treatment to germinate. You don't need anything fancy, vinegar will work. Fire treatment has also been used but this is generally for forests and not flower gardens. With the proper pre-treatment you will not have a problem with any of your seeds.

Unlike the seeds of annuals, lots of perennial seeds require a period of moist cold (cold stratification) before they will germinate.  They get this naturally in the wild, lying on the ground, being half buried by fallen leaves, the digging of animals, and frost and snow. Without this period of cold and wet, certain seeds, usually perennials, won't germinate at all. Instead, they continue to wait inside their shells, asleep.

Flower Seeds for Late Summer Planting

Spring has always been said to be the season for planting flower seeds. In actual fact however, the fall is also a great time for such activities. As it is colder during the fall, planting works are easier as compared to during the hot weather in the late spring and summer. Besides, the fall also makes for an excellent time for the various types of flower seed to build their roots before spring comes along. As they get ample time to adjust to the climate, some types of perennial flower seeds work out nicely when planted in the fall. Most types of perennial do not instantly grow in the fall when planted, however during these time they establish roots, until the weather is fit for above ground growth.

Contrary to the common understanding, some annual flower seeds can also be planted in the fall. These hardy annuals, capable of enduring cold weathers, are usually planted as seeds in the fall and start to grow when spring comes. As planting the seeds in the fall gives an early start for the flower seeds to grow, the plants will grow faster compared to those planted in spring, as they already have root systems intact. Gardeners are usually keen on having their flowering plants to flower as soon as possible, and are willing to pay more to get this result. They can also still achieve this result by using cheap seeds to plant with during the fall, as an alternative to buying seedlings to transplant.

The natural cycle of flower seeds starts in the fall, making it rather not that unusual to be planting flower seeds in the fall. The flowers lifespan reaches its end during fall, and the flowers get ready to drop off their seeds in autumn. The seeds will then search for receptive grounds and be prepared for spring rains next. Knowing this, gardeners can take advantage by planting the seeds right when the ground is receptive for new seeds, which can be before or after frost. However this depends on the local weather too. For areas that are particularly cold, it is best to start planting when it started to frost, but for areas that do not freeze, hardy wildflower seeds can be planted as pleased in the month of fall or winter.

The annual, perennial or wildflower seeds will need some special care when planted in the winter. The dry, cold ground of the fall will need to be watered in order to make it more hospitable to the new flower seeds. Using some potting soil or other organic matter will also help to give the seeds a fertile nesting ground. The seeds will need to have plenty of organic matter and water before the ground has frozen. The watering should be done on a regular basis until the soil freezes. In areas where the ground freezes, the seeds will need some protection to keep the new roots from being frozen and thawed repeatedly throughout the winter. Mulch applied to the soil can keep the temperature more constant for the new flower seeds.
Annuals For Early Spring
Some annual flowers sprout earlier and with a higher germination rate if their seeds are sown in the fall instead of in springtime. Examples of annuals that you can sow in fall include:

  • Annual poppies

  • Love-in-a-mist (Nigella spp.)

  • Annual clary sage (Salvia viridis syn. Salvia horminium), also known as painted sage

  • Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), also known as Texas sage and hummingbird sage, and its cultivar ‘Lady in Red’

  • Calliopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)

  • Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis)

  • California poppy

  • Snapdragon

  • Larkspur (Consolida spp.)

  • Clarkia (Clarkia spp.)

  • Mexican tulip poppy (Hunnemania fumariifolia)

  • Blue woodruff (Asperula orientalis)

  • Queen Anne’s thimbles (Gilia capitata)

  • California bluebell (Phacelia campanularia), also known as desert bluebell

  • Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis), generally hardy in USDA zone 7 and hotter
Biennials, plants that form leaves their first year and bloom their second year, are ideal candidates for late summer or early fall sowing. Biennials that can be sown in fall include:

Foxglove (Digitalis spp.)
Honesty (Lunaria annua), also known as silver dollar plant
Evening primrose (Oenothera spp.)
Canterbury bells (Campanula medium)
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)
Hollyhock (Alcea spp.)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Certain Perennials
When sowing seed of perennial flowers, a good guideline is to look at how they propagate themselves in nature. Many perennials generally drop their seeds in late summer or early autumn, including:

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.)
Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum x superbum)
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium syn. Chrysanthemum parthenium)
Some monkshood species (Aconitum spp.), also known as wolfsbane
Some perennial sunflowers
Many milkweed species (Asclepias spp.)
Perennial rudbeckias (including Rudbeckia subtomentosa and Rudbeckia triloba)
Some perennial salvia species


Don’t be concerned if you don’t see seedlings this fall. Some perennials form seedlings before winter, but others have seeds that need a period of cold before germinating and will wait till spring before they sprout. If you do see seedlings this fall, mulching them over the winter is a way to help ensure their survival. Wait until the ground freezes before you mulch them.
Photos from the web, unknown source.

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