Why a grow plants from seed?

bugbite(z9a FL)November 12, 2010

In my garden club I was aked why I grow from seed?

I said price, but that wasn't the reason I came up with after I thought about it more. Sure I can get 200 seeds from the best impatiens for $3.25, but it is not that.

At my local retailer I can pick from three types of impatiens; red, pink and white. From my favorite catalog I can pick from 256 impatien choices. At the store they sell plants that are designed for pac sales. That means the plant looks good in tiny pacs. BUT that might be the best garden variety, most beautiful colors or flowers.

As an example, sunflowers. Think of a typical sunflower plant. How big does if get? Did you know my catalog has sunflower plants that mature at 8 inches tall, 12 inches, 4-5 feet and 12 feet. They have 75 different types (many sizes and colors). Half don't produce seed, which means they do not have pollen. Very important for growers who use smaller sunflowers in arrangements. I can only get these choices from my catalog. (Note: Not the poor germinating seeds for the big stores; that has discouraged more gardeners than anything less. I am speaking of quality seeds from the very best catalog seed companies..not the most famous, the BEST in terms of variety, germination rate and price.)

I don't use trays; I direct sow. I experiment alot. If it doesn't grow like I envisioned, so what, I have plenty that do.

It is all about the adventure...that's why I grow from seed. Why do you grow from seed?

Bob

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countrycarolyn(6-7nwTN)

Economically, is why I originally started growing from seed. Then when I had a few plants that were grown from seed, I seemed closer, more attatched to the plant. To me it is a self reward to show off plants I grew from seed and to make that known to others.

Also I tend to learn more about the plant. There are very few retailers around this area that do not use retardants or other chemicals. So another reason is because I know how my "babies" were grown to begin with. I do not have to worry about disease or pest being brought home. I don't have to worry about that part time employee that doesn't want to be there that tends to overwater the plants, and in return the plant may have some root rot in the plant that you don't recognize till half the plant dies.

So many reasons, but my favorite reason is simply because I enjoy it.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 11:21AM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

You are so right on all your points. I can relate to each one. To hitchhike on one of your points, the soil the store plants come in can bring problems, like the flat head worm that I brought home in one of those store plants. It attacks, wraps itself around and eats earthworms (I saw it in action).
Plus when sown directly in the ground the plants do not experience transplant shock.
The only painful thing is thinning. I hate when I have to yank out many, many seedling to end up with the 2 dozen that I may need. But I get the best ones that way.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 1:06PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I started planting from seed when I went three years in a row and couldn't find the ten flats of pansies of one kind that I needed for my front bed without running all over town. Then, I just plain got hooked on it! Better plants at a far more economical price for really just a small time investment all things considered.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 8:33AM
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zen_man

I agree with pretty much all of the above. It's cheaper to grow from seed, it's interesting, and you have a much better selection than at the local garden center.

As a zinnia hobbyist who does a fair amount of cross-pollination of zinnias to create my own hybrids, I also grow from seed to see the results of my amateur plant breeding. I get some interesting zinnias that way that you couldn't get any other way.

ZM

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 4:44PM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

ZM, interesting thought. I used to hybridize roses for years but gave up because I moved around with my job (before I retired). I always eagerly waited to see the new roses that resulted. Annuals and perennials would be faster.
Bob

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 5:27PM
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zen_man

Bob,

"Annuals and perennials would be faster."

Zinnias are really fast. I have had indoor zinnias bloom in as quick as 5 weeks after sowing, and in 6 to 8 weeks outside. By starting some zinnias early inside under fluorescent lights to get an early start, it is fairly easy to get two generations per year outside.

When you also grow zinnias indoors as I do, it's not hard to get 4 generations per year. Five generations in a year is probably possible, although I haven't done that yet.

Sometimes I see a zinnia recombinant that reminds me of a rose, like this one.

I think it might be possible to select for successively larger zinnia petals to create a strain of zinnias that resembled roses. And, unlike roses, zinnias tend to offer "instant gratification" for the amateur plant breeder.

ZM

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:02AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I have been growing seeds for many years and I never, ever fail to feel a sense of joy when they germinate - it is evidence of God, and it is glorious.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 1:06AM
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countrycarolyn(6-7nwTN)

So true, mxk3.... from every plant produces seed...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:05PM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

Zm, As I worked in the garden today I thought about your Zinnias. I planted profusion seeds from Park's ( I think Fire). I don't think I got one flower from it. I had many successes this year but the "east to grow" (I thought) zinnia was not a success. Your beautiful photo makes me want to grow them even more.
Two questions: 1. Do you have a link to a discussion where you discuss your growing methods? and 2. Which would you recommend for me to grow? ZM I put a list of Zinnias from the company I now buy seeds from in this post but it was too long, so I will do another post titled "Zinnias".
Bob

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 6:14PM
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zen_man

Bob,

"Do you have a link to a discussion where you discuss your growing methods?"

My zinnia growing methods are a work in progress. Discussions of specific aspects of zinnia growing methods, by myself and others, are scattered over various parts of the It can be fun to breed your own zinnias message threads here in the Annuals forum. They are all linked together, head to tail, and they go back for several years.

There have also been some zinnia culture discussions that I participated in under the name of Zen_Man over in the Dave's Garden forums, but I don't think that I am allowed to post links from here to there, so I won't. I know that I am not allowed to link to the Home Tissue Culture forum at Yahoo, and I have begun experimenting with zinnia tissue culture.

This last Summer I did a lot of foliar feeding with Miracle-Gro Tomato formula, and my zinnias (and tomatoes) seemed to respond well to that. The tomato formula has extra Magnesium, which is a component of chlorophyll. However, my zinnias did exhibit some Boron deficiency symptoms until I included a little Boric Acid in their foliar formula. The Miracle-Gro does have trace elements, including Boron. But apparently zinnias need more Boron than the average plant. You do have to be careful with Boron, because too much can be phytotoxic.

The indoor culture of zinnias is a whole different "can of worms", but you haven't expressed an interest in doing that, so I will spare you the details. Indoor zinnia culture has been discussed from time to time in the It can be fun... threads, both here and at Dave's Garden.

I responded to your other question over in your "Zinnias" post.

ZM

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 3:28PM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

Thanks ZM.
I responded in the Zinnias post.
Thanks for all of the great information.
Miracle-Gro Tomato formula plus Boron is particularly interesting. How often do you fertilize and at what strength?

Bob

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 6:31PM
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calistoga_al

Here in our long wet winters, checking every morning to see what germinated and broke the surface overnight, provides a reason to get up in the morning. With millions of seed varieties, the challenges are endless. When you have tried growing the same species three years in a row and you find this morning "live seedlings" it is like winning the lottery. Al

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 8:58AM
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zen_man

Bob,

"How often do you fertilize and at what strength?"

During the growing season, I foliar feed my zinnias fairly frequently -- at least once a week if I can. I usually spray in the morning, and very generously, so that there is a considerable amount of run-off to feed the roots as well.

If it is convenient to feed during the evening, because I was busy during the morning, and provided that it is hot weather which is not conducive to foliage diseases, then I don't hesitate to spray in the evening.

Actually, wet zinnia foliage is actually resistant to Powdery Mildew, but other zinnia foliage diseases can be encouraged by wet foliage. When foliage diseases are a concern, I switch to frequent applications of a potassium bicarbonate based spray like GreenCure®. Potassium bicarbonate is also very water soluble and is easily washed off by rains or even heavy dews.

But giving your zinnias a refreshing shower bath of potassium bicarbonate every morning would be a good idea, if you have the time. And there is a bit of serendipity to that, because some of the potassium in the potassium bicarbonate is actually absorbed as a foliar feed. Zinnias do need a fair amount of potassium.

During the vegetative stage, before any blooms have opened, I feed my zinnias at full strength which, according to the Miracle-Gro Tomato Food package is one tablespoon per gallon of water. I avoid spraying the full strength foliar feed on open zinnia blooms, because the petals and floral parts (florets and stigmas) are more "tender" than the leaves and stems. When it becomes inconvenient not to spray the flowers, I cut the foliar spray concentration to one quarter of "full strength" and spray everything, with no harmful effects. The full strength can burn tender petals. I probably should experiment to see if I can "get away with" half strength on zinnia blooms.

This is what I did with respect to the Boron this year. I made up a stock solution of boric acid. I heated a cup of water in the microwave, as if I were going to make a cup of instant coffee. (I drink a fair amount of Kava, because it is low acid, but that is irrelevant here.) I strip the labels off of some of the bottled water that I have finished, and I write "Boric Acid" on them prominently with a Sharpie marker. I definitely don't want myself or anyone else to drink any of my Boric Acid solution accidentally. I pour the hot water into a labeled bottle and add about one half teaspoon of boric acid powder (available at many drug stores in the Pharmacy area), replace the lid and shake it until the powder is dissolved. My sprayer tank holds 7 gallons, but I usually fill it to only 5 or 6 gallons to make it easier to wheel around. I add a bottle of the stock Boric Acid solution to each tankfull. You could do an equivalent thing with a hose-end sprayer. Until I started adding the Boric Acid, I did see symptoms of Boron deficiency in my zinnias (puckering, wrinkling, and downward folding of the leaves, tip burn, death of the growing point or bud, and stunted growth, naturally.) I have yet to see the symptoms of too much Boron, although I may run some experiments next year to see what they are. Apparently our soil here is deficient in Boron, and apparently the well water is also deficient. I guess that is a lucky thing, because in some parts of the country (the Southwest) there is an excess of Boron in the soil and irrigation water, which does cause problems. It's easier to add Boron than to take it out.

Rain, or even heavy dew, will wash the nutrients off of the foliage and into the soil, where they are still available to the roots, so they are not wasted. However, I usually re-spray after a rain to replenish the nutrients available to the foliage. Zinnias are fast growers and heavy feeders, and they respond to foliar feeding in warm weather with almost "scary" growth rates.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 12:45PM
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amergardenaward

I see a lot of wonderful discussions on zinnias and are very happy to see the passion for those beautiful flowers. Our sister organization, National Garden Bureau, has named 2011 the "Year of the Zinnia" so you can find a wealth of growing information on the website www.ngb.org.

Here is a link that might be useful: National Garden Bureau Year of the Zinnia

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 5:11PM
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zen_man

amergardenaward,

That is a very informative link about zinnias. I would make a few minor additions to the zinnia article there. The article gives the impression that the first of the Z. marylandicas was Sakata's Profusion in 1999, with no mention that the first commercial Z. marylandica was Rose Pinwheel by W. Atlee Burpee in 1987, followed by five additional colors in the Pinwheel series.

Also, the article mentions the Z. haageana bicolored zinnias, but doesn't mention the bicolored (and tricolored) Z. violacea strains, Whirligig, Carrousel, Zig Zag and the AAS winner, Zowie Yellow Flame.

As I recall, the National Garden Bureau also designated the year 2000 as The Year of the Zinnia. It seems that history repeats itself.

ZM

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 2:07AM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

Been a while since I visited this post. Thanks ZM for the info on fertilizing procedures. Very interesting and helpful.
Bob

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 8:19PM
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