A few flower questions

Susanne_IsabelleFebruary 2, 2013

Hello!
I'm growing flowers for the first time. I know that veggie plants can be transplanted up to the cotyledons...are flowers the same? I ask because a few weeks ago I sowed a few cornflower seeds in a starter pot (i think its a bit early but the seeds were purchased in Europe and given to me recently, so i thought they might be acclimated to cooler temps...) The seedlings are tall and most of them bent over.
Did they just not get enough light? Can I save them by planting them up to the cotyledons?
Are only container grown flowers thinned? How is sowing directly into beds different?
When a flower says perennial, does that mean that the plant will survive both brutal Florida summer heat and freezing temps and come back even if it looks dead?
Should annuals and perennials be grown in separate beds?
Many questions! Thanks for your time and input.

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jason83(Zone 8b/9a (North Florida))

Sounds like the seedlings did indeed get stretched from not being "close" enough to the light source. Did you germinate them in a sunny window, under fluorescent lights, bulbs, etc?

I'd recommend direct sowing of these, right into the garden where you want them to be. You can also plant a few seeds every couple of weeks, to get successive blooms. A lot of perennials are tough and can handle harsh conditions. I'm just not sure specifically if these can handle the *length* of heat we get.

You can plant annuals and perennials in the same bed. It's a common practice; the annuals will provide fill and color where the perennials may not at that moment in the garden. Take note of growing cooler weather annuals in the fall/winter and early spring, and best ones for late spring/summer.

With a healthy selection of foundation plants (the ones that don't get replaced as often, if at all) you can "fill in the gaps" to ensure season long interest. Try not to focus 100% on JUST flowers...think of varied foliage, fall colors, seed-heads that provide additional ornamental value, and your choices will be just about unlimited in how creative you can get, mixing and matching. Have fun and good luck :)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Sounds like what happened to me. I had two flats of flower seeds planted for my daughter's butterfly garden (and for other areas around my yard). One flat was 1/2 milkweed and 1/2 tropical salvia. The other flat was full of 'Pina Colada' Penstemon. Being a complete newbie, I only had one CFL bulb providing light. The flat closest to the light was the one with the milkweed and salvia while the penstemon was, logically, further away. I lost the entire flat of penstemon and was starting to lose the salvia. When I noticed the salvia was showing the same 'falling over' symptoms as the penstemon, I just took the entire flat outside and let it sit in my lanai where the flat got early morning sun and late afternoon sun, but was protected during the rest of the day. I still ended up losing a few of the salvia that simply were beyond recovery, but I was able to save the rest. So now I know, or at least assume, that the single CFL bulb just is not going to cut it. I have since looked up plans for building a grow-light hood using 4-6 CFL bulbs and a reflective dryer tube. As of today, all the remaining sprouts are growing in their own pots out in my lanai or on the east side of my house and are getting stronger and bigger by the day.

As for whether or not you can 'mound' soil up the stem, I guess, like in most cases, it depends on the species. I tried it with two of the milkweed and two of the salvia. The two salvia wilted and died while the milkweed is still growing.

Best of luck on your endeavors.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:46PM
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jason83(Zone 8b/9a (North Florida))

One of those 4 bulb array lights that you would put over a bathroom mirror cost about $15 at the Home Depot. They also have 6 and 8 bulb versions too. Screw in those CFL's into that and you've got yourself a great, cheap grow lighting setup. You'd have to wire it to a plug, but still, it's very cheap and works great. :)

Also once seeds have sprouted, take off humidity domes. They don't need the extra humidity once sprouted. It does keep the soil more moist, but can lead to damping off, where the little baby stem at the soil line will rot and the seedlings fall over.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:00PM
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