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‘Annuals’ Category

  1. Seedling Tips and Stories

    April 29, 2008 by Jocelyn


    For those of you in colder zones like mine, you’ve probably just recently planted your seeds. I just planted my first couple flats a few weekends ago, and I want to give a few tips on how to make your seed starting successful. First of all, I just want to tell you that I’m not one of those people who create their own specialized soil mixtures. I don’t have that much time or experience- yet. These tips are fast and easy to follow.

    The Mixture:

    You don’t want to use heavy soil to start seeds in. The tiny roots won’t be able to grow very well, if they’re trying to fight their way through really dense soil. I purchased a bag of organic potting soil, and a bag of perlite. I mixed it about half and half. The soil should crumble easily in your hands, not stick together.

    The Temperature:

    I always read the seed packets before planting, but I’ve found that the majority of seeds I’ve sown have preferred warm temperatures, usually between 65-75 degrees. If you keep your house much cooler than this, you may want to consider a heating mat to put your flats on. Otherwise, a bright window may do the trick.

    The Lighting:

    Again, checking the seed packets is important for this. I’ve actually had some seeds that need darkness to germinate, so remember to check out the light preferences. Otherwise, most seedlings prefer bright light. If you’re in an area where you get little bright light, grow lights are definitely a good choice! I haven’t had a space to use grow lights yet, but I may try using one later on this spring.

    The Water:

    I usually dampen the peat pots with a spray bottle of water before I fill them with dirt. This just prevents them from soaking up all the moisture from the dirt. Once I’ve planted all of the seeds, I give all of them a good misting with the spray bottle again.


    This part can be kind of tricky. Once your little seedlings become established, you need to get them ready for moving outside. It’s important to harden off your seedlings before leaving them out for good. Start bringing them outside when the weather is fairly mild for an hour or so per day. Over the course of about two weeks, gradually increase the amount of time they spend outside, including breezy or rainy days.

    The day you actually transplant your seedlings outside should be slightly overcast, or lightly rainy. This will help ease the shock for your little plant.


    While these tips make seed starting sound so easy, I know sometimes there are seedlings that don’t seem to grow like they should. I’ve killed about the same amount of seedlings as I’ve been successful with. So don’t get discouraged if some of your seedlings die; it’s part of the learning experience!

    I want to hear from you!

    So, I want to hear from you. What is your seedling story? What seeds are you starting this year? I’d love to hear more about what everyone is doing this spring!

    April showers bring May flowers!

    Photo credit: sa_ku_ra

  2. 2008 Garden Plans Update

    April 21, 2008 by Jocelyn

    Despite the stubborn winter-like weather we’ve been having, I started my seeds last weekend. Here’s what I started:


    • Sweet Orange Peppers *
    • Green Peppers *
    • Early Girl Hybrid Tomatoes *


    • Lavender
    • Basil
    • Lemon Balm *


    • Impatiens
    • Violas
    • Snapdragons
    • Pansies
    • Cleome *
    • Marigolds

    These seeds are taking up 2 large flats that I’ve left with my parents. They get a lot more sunlight at their house, and that way I can pick them up once I’ve moved into my new place. All of the ones with a * indicate new seeds that I’ve never grown before.

    Also, I’m on the list for a 20×20 foot plot at one of the Community Garden sites this summer! I’m going to be planting lettuce, onions, green and yellow beans, along with the seeds I’ve already started. I’m totally pumped for this.

    My perennial plan for the new yard is on hold for now, as I really don’t know what kind of light the house gets. I will probably start working on that shortly after moving in.

  3. My Hardy Annuals – GTS Pics

    September 30, 2007 by Jocelyn



    Here’s a picture of the Vincas I was talking about in my previous post. Like I said, they were by far the most hardy plant I had all summer. They are still in their containers right now blooming away, even after being scorched in a hot car, and frozen outside in the Minnesota cold.



    Oh, Alyssum. How do I love thee? These tiny little flowers never fail to give me a great showing every summer. I started them from seed, and although they looked very fragile they toughened up a lot once they were put outside. I must say, I was really impressed with myself as they were one of the few seedlings that I didn’t kill.




    Visit As the Garden Grows for more information about Green Thumb Sunday.

  4. End of Summer Review

    September 28, 2007 by Jocelyn

    I would like to give all of you a summary of everything I’ve learned during my last 4 months of gardening adventures. My containers of annuals are gone by now, and since we’ve been seeing 40-50 degree days for the past few weeks, I am finally convinced that the cold season is here.

    In May, I posted when I got a lot of my plants; all of them made it through the entire summer. After 3 months with these plants, here is what I’ve found:

    Most Impressive Plants

    • Vincas are very hardy, and mine withstood a lot of abuse. During my move, they got left in my car for an entire 90 degree day- and they were fine. This summer was my first time growing them, and I was very pleased with the continuous blooming of their simple flowers.
    • Super Elfin Impatiens are gorgeous; mine really filled out, bloomed profusely, and were always a treat to look at. I will definitely be using these every summer! I was not a fan of Impatiens at the start of the summer, but my opinion of them has since completely turned around!
    • Alyssum is an awesome filler plant! Most of the Alyssum I had this summer was what I started from seed (it was one of the few seed started plants of mine that actually survived). I never pinched them back when they were growing; they got quite large and looked fantastic!

    Most Disappointing Plants

    • Wax Begonias are a shade annual, but mine never filled out or looked very healthy. They kept flowering through the summer, but the leaves frequently turned brown. I was so excited for these plants, and they never did very well.
    • Ageratums are supposed to be low maintenance annuals, but only half of mine survived the summer. I really have no idea what happened to them, but some of them were continuously turning brown and crispy. It may have been an issue with the soil mixture having too much manure in that specific container.

    Tips I’ve Learned Over the Summer

    • Do your homework before investing in a new plant. It sucks if you buy a great new plant, and proceed to kill it within 2 weeks.
    • Pay attention to the weather reports. This is especially important in cold climate areas like Minnesota. Springtime freezes are very spotty, and even when you think it has warmed up, there is no guarantee.
    • Be patient. Give your plants time and good care, and you will be rewarded!
    • Don’t be afraid to admit defeat! Learn to know when you need help. I use the UBC Botanical Garden Forum or the GardenWeb Forums when I have questions. These are large online communities, and you will get a fast response!

    Let Me Know!

    This is a short summary of my Minnesota summer gardening experience, and I will be posting pictures of my annuals sometime next week. I’d love to hear any comments or questions from all of you!

    How did your annuals perform this summer? Let me know what worked (or didn’t) for you!

    Until next time, Happy Gardening!

  5. Plant of the Week – Impatiens

    June 26, 2007 by Jocelyn

    Before I launch into all of the great information on my newest Plant of the Week, I’m sorry for not having posted in such a long time! I’ve been very busy in the past few weeks trying to find a new job. (What can I say, $6.59 per hour just isn’t cutting it right now!) I am really hoping to get something soon, so I can stop worrying about it. After that, I will post all the time- I promise! For now, here is your newest Plant of the Week.




    I used to think that Impatiens were boring plants. Why? I’m really not sure, but I can tell you that I now know I was wrong! I started Impatiens from seed this year, and they were without a doubt, the hardiest seedlings I’ve ever had. I didn’t use grow lights, but just set them in a light windowsill. They grew like crazy, and the ones that survived our late Spring snowfall (because I had given them away) are now doing very well, and look really healthy.

    Impatiens are one of the best annuals because they will thrive in those shady areas of your yard and are fairly easy to care for. If your Impatiens are looking too leggy, you can easily pinch them down. This will keep them from blooming for a few weeks or so, but they will soon be thicker and start to bloom again! They are also pretty low maintenance plants when it comes to watering. They like moist (but not soggy) soil. If you haven’t watered in a few days, and your plants look wilted, that is a sure sign that you need to water them. If you’re keeping them in containers, you may have to water them as much as once per day, depending on how much sun they are getting.



    New Guinea Impatiens like the one shown here are generally the most sun tolerant, but many gardeners have said that they have no problem growing their normal Impatiens in sun. All that is needed is extra water, since the plants will dry out very quickly if kept in sunny conditions.

    In my opinion, I wouldn’t place any Impatiens in FULL sun. They may grow and bloom there, but they will probably not be as healthy as they could be in a more shaded area. Most of mine are getting a lot of morning sun, then more shade in the afternoons. They seem to be doing very well, and I usually water them every 1-2 days as they are in containers.


    Please let me know if you have any questions about your Impatiens, and I will be happy to give or find you the answer! I have been doing a lot of research, so hopefully I will just start knowing the answers to any questions I get! It’s kind of intimidating to me because the more research I do about plants and gardening, the more I realize how little I know about the topic! I’ve even started tossing around the idea of going back to school to take some classes on horticulture! Now that would be fun!