seed starting

autodidactNovember 30, 2009

Thinking ahead to next spring. For the last few years I've started some seedlings inside in my picture window with some success, others not so much. For my yard I'm going to need lots of thyme groundcover, and I'm planning on probably Allysum "basket of gold" to edge the path I finished this fall. (although I'm open to suggestions.) Is there any point to trying to grow either of these from seed indoors? Thanks.

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi AD,

If youre going to start seed for perennial alyssum, basket of gold, I think it needs stratification, and IÂd probably recommend winter sowing it to make it easy. When she sees this, Bonnie will probably be along to recommend that too!

Having said that.......

You may want to consider some other options if this is a pathway thatÂs highly visible. It can put on a nice show when itÂs blooming, but since it only blooms in spring, and since it can get pretty floppy and straggly looking, especially after itÂs been in for a couple years, you might not be too happy with it for the rest of the summer. To keep it looking as nice as possible, youÂd need to cut it back severely as soon as itÂs done blooming. Many places recommend cutting it back by about half, but IÂd cut it back even further than thatÂprobably just a few inches above the ground. When they grow back that should give you some pretty good looking little "mounds" for the rest of the summer, and it should get it in shape for the following springÂs bloom. Cutting it back every year would also help keep it from flopping all over your path.

Also, if you decide to use it, both Alyssum and Aurinia go by the common name basket of gold. YouÂll find more varieties of Aurinia than you will Alyssum. TheyÂre so similar that if somebody showed you two plants in pots, one of each, when they were blooming, you probably wouldnÂt be able to tell you were looking at two different things. Just trying to say to check out both of them if you decide to go with it.

Here are links to a few of the different varietiesÂsome of the shorter onesÂbut theyÂre not gonna stay as short as they say without the severe cutting back.

Alyssum montanum, Mountain Gold

Alyssum serpyllifolium, Alpine Alyssum

Alyssum wulfenianum, Alpine Alyssum -- improved version of A. montanum!

Aurinia saxatilis ÂGold BallÂ

Aurinia saxatilis ÂSummitÂ

There are a bunch more varieties if you start looking for them! If you run into it, thereÂs one called ÂSunny Border Apricot (Aurinia saxatilis) that sounds really pretty when you hear the name, but in reality itÂs just kind of washed out blah looking! I recommend going with one of the bright or soft yellow ones if you decide to use it.

I never came up with any really good suggestions for plants to "border" a walk or the edge of a flower bed when I was selling themÂpeople usually came in looking for something that was going to grow just the width they wanted/neededÂand then STOP! And then theyÂd stare at you in amazement when you told them they werenÂt gonna STOP when they got to the "edges"Âthey were gonna keep right on growing. But if youÂd like some other possibilitiesÂnone of which will STOP at the "right place": Is it full sun? Or how many hours of sun? How wide and long is the area? Is it in front of the house or in backÂor where? Will you be walking on the path a lotÂand possibly be stepping on it? WhatÂs your ideal height (donÂt tell me 5 feet!) ;-), Any colors you especially do or donÂt want? Any other important information?

Bonnie will probably be starting her winter sowing thread, IÂm guessing shortly after the first of the year, and I think you might have better luck with many of the seeds you want to start if you try it "her way!"

Is it spring yet?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:28PM
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irisgirl(Z5 - CO)

Hi Autodidact,
I truly believe you will have your best luck by winter sowing these items. Allysum is a great seed for winter sowing, especially the white varieties. You will have success, I know.

The thymes, if I remember correctly are not too persnickety about their seed-bed. So, again, I would HIGHLY recommend winter sowing your thyme ground cover.

Bonnie and I and others from RMG are also active on the Winter Sowing Forum. Please come join us and find a new and better way to get great spring seedlings for nearly $0. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with the "" website - all the basics are there. If you have any questions, please just ask. It is easy and fun!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:38PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I clicked on this thread to suggest wintersowing, and see that Skybird has beat me to it, LOL! Yes, I have successfully wintersown both Alyssum saxatile 'Golden Queen' (same as Basket of Gold), and also thyme. Both germinated very well using this technique.

If you follow the link below, it will take you to a list of frequently asked questions about wintersowing. If you still have more questions, just post them here, and I'll try to answer them for you. I know I sound like a wintersowing evangelist, but it truly changed my whole outlook on gardening. Instead of being limited to what would grow in my kitchen window, and trying to harden the plants off in the spring, or buying expensive mail order plants, I just sow the seeds in recyclable containers in the winter or early spring, and let nature do the rest. Now my kitchen window is strictly for peppers, and a few long season tomatoes, and I have plenty of room on the patio to start hundreds of different annuals, perennials, herbs, and veggies. I highly recommend it!


    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:49PM
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Thanks everyone! I don't think I'm ready to get into winter sowing yet. I tried last year and failed.

skybird: I'm certainly open to suggestions. The path is in full sun. It's curvy, rocks and log rounds, informal. It's in my front yard. I've made a 1 foot wide border lasagna bed on either side (but pretty low, because I think a lot of native perennials don't want their soil all that rich) so it's ready to plant come spring. I'd like the border to be one long species the whole way, less than 1 foot tall, but don't much mind if it intrudes on the path or the lawn. the path is more decorative than functional, and my goal is to eventually get rid of my lawn in favor of xeric perennials.

Basically I love flowers, the more the better. I don't mind greenery as well, I'm just trying to go xeric + not mowing.

I've also prepared a wide bed between the path and another already planted bed, which I plan to cover in some kind of thyme ground-cover, as part of this conversion campaign.

At this point I've gotten rid of about half the grass in favor of perennial beds of various kinds.

I'm pretty open on colors, but not a big fan of pink. I love purple. Most of what I've got is purple and yellow, which I think is a nice combo. I've got a bed of evening primrose in the front.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 1:59PM
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I've come back to this thread twice now, trying to remember what the "narrower focus" was with regards to seed starting. Ah yes, thyme and alyssum!

Okay, here's something I looked at recently. And, it is concerned with the "broader focus" of seed starting. I hope it is of use to someone . . .

who has grown thyme from seed sown in his greenhouse . . .

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 12:35AM
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