How to grow flower seeds
The cultivation of flower seeds requires the respect of some basic tricks, which allow to give life to luxuriant and healthy plants. Most perennials and flowering annuals normally grown in the garden can be easily propagated by sowing, which gives the possibility of obtaining varieties and colors that could not be found easily in nurseries. Clearly, to have high quality plants available, it is necessary to rely on equally high quality seeds. It should be pointed out that the flowering plants usually grown in the garden are actually hybrids deriving from different species: this means that from the seeds harvested it will be possible to have different plants, in terms of color and size, with respect to the plant from which the seeds were obtained . Conversely, specialized seed producers are able to obtain all the same plants: those who want to focus on this choice, therefore, can decide to spend a few more euros relying on traders and nursery owners who ensure the homogeneity of future seedlings.
The soil to use: peat and sand in equal parts
Fundamental aspect for the success of the sowing is that which regards the soil: the most suitable solution is represented by a soft mixture able to preserve the humidity. Usually, a compound consisting of equal parts of chopped peat and sand is used, which must be moistened before sowing. Moreover, always before sowing it is preferable to cover the seeds with perlite or vermiculite: these are inert materials that are rather light, less dark than the soil, which serve to protect the seeds from drought and insect attacks. Almost all flowering plants can be planted and sown directly; the bed can be prepared when the night-time temperatures begin to stabilize around fifteen degrees, in the spring months, working with hoe and rake the soil in order to obtain a sufficiently soft and smooth surface. The flowerbed, once watered, should be sown by spreading: it is important to spread the seeds evenly, avoiding areas that are too bare or too thick. Until the buds have sprouted, it will be advisable to keep the sown soil moist, to prevent the layer of substrate on the surface from drying out; for the same reason, the use of vermiculite and perlite, which are able to promote humidity without compromising the penetration of sunlight, can be useful.
Differences between sowing in open ground and sowing in seedbed
Species endowed with a rather delicate root mass (nasturtium and esculzia, just to give two examples) are usually sown in the open ground; in reality, all plants that are naturally found in the garden can be sown directly at home. For species that, however, are not compatible with this option, it is mandatory to resort to the seedbed. In practice, with this alternative method the seed plants are already prepared between January and February, that is to say in a period in which sowing in the garden would prove impossible due to the very low night temperatures. Through the seedbed, moreover, already in the winter months plants that are not native to the European territory but from Africa or South America can be prepared, which consequently require high temperatures to germinate. A seedbed, in reality, is nothing more than any container of soil within which sowing must be carried out. In most cases, not very large vessels of less than twelve centimeters are used, but nothing prevents the use of seed trays with or without holes. These containers, however, must be placed on special saucers so that the soil can be wet without touching the seeds. Inside the seedbed, it is necessary to place a mixture of peat and sand to constantly water so as to moisten it completely. Depending on the seed, sowing will require putting one or more seeds into each hole. The seed must be crushed so that it adheres to the surface of the substrate, and then covered with perlite and vermiculite, so as to ensure the moisture of the soil. The surface of the compound must be periodically vaporized, but alternatively it will be possible to put inside the saucer of the water to make the substrate become wet due to capillarity.
What to do when the seeds have sprouted
When the flower seeds have germinated in the ground, the seedlings will have to be thinned, leaving only those that have developed best. In the case of the seedbed, on the other hand, this operation will not be necessary in most cases, but if the container is too crowded, it can proceed without problems by removing too many sprouts. The young plants must be able to count on excellent lighting, essential for ensuring a balanced and harmonious development. Also the nourishment is indispensable, in the sense that, especially after the first times, it will be necessary to add minerals and water, so that the plant can produce the energy it needs through photosynthesis.