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Starting Flowers From Seeds

Starting Flowers From Seeds

| Sarah Allinson-Chorabik

If you are anything like me, that first taste of spring has you itching to get into the garden to start planting an array of colourful flowers. However, living in Ontario usually means that an early spring is followed by a surprise snowstorm. The standard rule is to wait until the last frost date to get your plants into the ground, but if your green thumb is twitching to get a head start, you’ve come to the right place. 

If you want to find the last frost date for your area, ALMANAC has the Ontario frost dates here.

Starting seeds indoors allows you to extend the growing season, but it also has my favourite benefit, saving money. Buying a couple of flats of flowers from your local garden center in May can get expensive very quickly. Plus add on the cost of soil, mulch, fertilizer, and tools - you can quickly rack up a bill in the hundreds of dollars. 

One way I keep the cost down is by growing my own seedlings. You only need a few things to get started. 

  • Seeds: You can find seeds at the grocery store, garden center, or online. Growing from seeds also allows for a greater variety than shopping for seedlings. 
  • Soil: You only need a small amount of high-quality soil to get started
  • Seedling Cells: You can find these online for a relatively cheap price, or you may even have some lying around from years passed. 
    • You can also use yogurt cups, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, a milk or cream carton cut in half, or any other small household containers. Just be sure to poke some holes in the bottom of whatever you are using. 
  • An indoor growing light or a window with lots of sunshine. 

Seeds can be planted indoors 6-10 weeks before your last frost date, read the instructions on your seed’s packet for the exact recommended timeframe. 

Loosely fill your containers with dirt, then plant the seed 2x-3x their own depth into the soil. 

Water so all the soil is wet then place in a well-lit window or under a grow light. Water daily or when the soil feels dry. 

Watch your seedlings grow over the next few weeks. 

About a week before you want to plant your seedlings in the ground, you want to begin the hardening process. This process slowly acclimates your seedlings to the outdoors. 

For the first couple of days, leave your seedlings outside in the sun during the day, bringing them in at night. Then, 4-5 days before you want to plant your seedlings, leave them outside overnight. This allows your seedlings to get comfortable with the wind, changing temperatures, and sunlight. If there is any risk of frost, bring your seedlings inside.

After your last frost date, when you’re confident that spring is here to stay, you can plant your seedlings in the ground or a planter.

Gently unpot your seedling by squeezing on the container. Plant your seedling so the entire root ball is covered. Refer back to the instructions on your seed packet for the amount of sunlight needed, and how much space each seedling needs. 

Water your seedlings so the top 3-4 inches of the soil is wet. While your seedlings establish themselves, water every day. 

After all of this hard work, you get to enjoy your beautiful blooms and the buzzing pollinators that visit them.

Not sure what to plant in your garden? Check out Native Ontario Plants for Pollinators