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Friday, December 7, 2012

Seed Saving And Starting Zinnias

I love Zinnias. They have big flowers that take a hard rain. They have stems that can take a strong wind. The flowers also can handle a frost or two before getting damaged. They are a strong plant perfect for the extreme that  happen where I live.

I used to buy zinnia seed packets every year. It worked great but I remember looking at one particular zinnia plant and said to myself, "I want that type next year". Instead of trying to remember where I bought the seeds, I decided to learn to seed save. Now I seed save practically everything. 

The steps are easy to follow. 

Wait until a zinnia flower is wilted and dried out and remove it from the plant. (Write down the color of the flowers in the plant. I also suggest you take a picture). Gently pluck the flower off the plant. 
Gently pull the seed head apart by holding the seed head between your index finger and thumb and gently rolling your fingers.

In the pile you will find the seeds. See below:

Select solid, fully formed seeds. Put them in a ventilated container (unsealed envelope, small plastic container (vented)) and put them in a refrigerator or cool place out of sunlight until you use them. 

I plant my zinnias in the following way:

Take peat pots, soak them in water, until they are full size.
Take a zinnia seed and place it on top of the peat pot. 
Push the seed slightly, but not completely, into the moist peat pot:
Sprinkle some fine soil on top until it just covers the seed: 
I use dry soil. It will absorb any extra water in the peat pot around the seed. I spray the top of the peat pot the next day to moisten if necessary.  In general, I tend to over water things. 

Label your new potential seedling. 
Place your new work in a covered seed tray under a shop light with grow bulbs.
Close up of a tray filled with different peat pots with seeds.
I separate different plants by putting the label between the rows. I may seem tedious for a few plants but  when 2,000 seedlings are going all at once, you may forget who everybody is and where they are located. 

I wait until the seedling has its first true leaves or the root sticks out of the peat pot until I transplant them into their first pot. 

Here are some freshly potted zinnias and some marigolds :
I will talk about marigolds in a future post. I also will post updates of these zinnias as they grow!


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