Growing from seeds

(Question)

Very accidentally I got my hands on the following seeds: annuals, alpine strawberries and deciduous shrubs. Is my best course of action to grow them inside till the spring?

(Answer)

Lucky you! If they are in commercial packets, there often is a best before date on it; most seeds are viable for more than one year.Directions on the packet will tell you how to treat the seeds, when and how to plant them.  If these are fresh seeds from a friend, then you need to find out what they are, as it’s a bit more complicated than just tossing them in a pot and hope for the best. Some seeds need a period of cold, some  to be soaked in water, some nicked to germinate, and some need to be planted deep, some shallow…and the list goes on. On the other hand, if you got them for free, tossing them in a pot of  potting soil is an option, even if it’s just to see what they do.

It’s a bit late to plant annual seeds. Annuals are named so because they do their entire growing in one year – seed to plant to flower to seed. Save them for next year, and sow them either in containers in early spring and place in a well lit area, or when the soil is warm, directly in the garden or outdoor pot.

The shrubs and perennial alpine strawberry you can try to germinate now. If they grow, they can be planted outside once roots are abundant. Or, you can keep them in a window, water sparingly, then plant them outside next year once the danger of frost is passed. That being said, if they need a period of cold, then they must spend the winter in the cold, in order to germinate in the spring.

You might like to review our Gardening Guide — Growing from Seed.