Growing seeds in Perlite
I am a recent gardener and am about to try my hand at growing some perennial flowers from seed - echinacea, rudbeckia, helianthus, helenium, agastache. I have read that Perlite is a good medium for germinating seeds. Since I live in zone 10 and have a only a very mild winter (never any frost), I was planning to leave the seeds in a semi-shady spot on a balcony outside about Jan-Feb. time.
Could someone please advise how to use the Perlite method? I guess I should cover the seeds with a thin layer of the perlite? Should I also cover with cardboard until they germinate? Do I need to use liquid fertiliser? If so, at what stage? When should I move the seedlings to a soil-based mix? Can they go straight from the perlite to the soil in the ground?