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Georgeson Botanical Notes No. 41 - Revised 2010


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Seed Starting Dates for Annual Flowers and Perennials Grown as Annuals at the Georgeson Botanical Garden

by Grant Matheke

This list has been developed over many years as a guide for seed germination of annual flowers and perennials grown as annuals that we have grown at the Georgeson Botanical Garden. These guidelines have been refined to adjust to our unique conditions in the greenhouse and in the garden. Your own growing conditions, especially light levels and temperature will be unique. Use this information as a starting point for your own list and take notes on germination rates and times to determine appropriate timing for your conditions. Plants that are too large at transplanting suffer greatly from transplant shock and may not bloom the entire season, and those that are too small may dry too quickly, succumb to competition by weeds, and not become established before season's end. The calendar is timed for a field planting date of June 1. Check the chart for sowing of direct-seeded crops such as scarlet runner beans.

Some seeds require pretreatments to germinate. Treatments may include cold stratification which involves sowing seeds in a seed starting mix, moistening the mix, sealing the container in a plastic bag, and putting in the refrigerator (approx. 40F) for the required amount of time. Never allow the mix to dry out once the process is started. Move to the greenhouse, and water well as required. Scarification involves rubbing the seeds on medium sandpaper or an emery board until the seed coat is penetrated. Be careful not to destroy the embryo, just the seed covering. It takes a bit of practice and a good eye (or magnifying glass) to make sure the rubbing does not go too far.

Growing seedlings in the greenhouse or indoors is usually a two-stage process: sowing and transplanting. For most flowers, we sow seeds into 4-inch pots (up to 50 seeds per pot depending on the size of the seed) or sow them singly into plug trays containing a very fine, sterile, peat-lite seed starting mix. We use additional seed starting mix or fine, horticultural grade vermiculite to cover seeds except those requiring light, so they are surrounded by moisture. We moisten the mix, cover the pots with clear plastic, and germinate them beneath lights with a thermostat-controlled heating mat beneath the pots to provide the optimum temperature. One pot holds a thermometer so we are measuring the medium temperature, not the air temperature. You can grow seedlings in cool rooms as long as the medium temperature is optimum.

As soon as seedlings are large enough to handle, we allow the peat-lite mix to dry a bit then gently tease apart the seedlings and transplant them into cell packs (six packs) or larger pots using a coarse, peat-lite growing mix. In the table, assume the seedlings go into cell packs unless stated otherwise. The fine seed starting mix provides the best medium for germination of seeds but is too fine for continued growth. Seedlings easily rot if kept in this mix too long.

Some seedlings do not tolerate transplanting, so we have a one-stage procedure.  We skip the seed starting mix and sow them directly in cell packs using the growing mix. They include bishop's flower, corn parsley and tassel flower among others. All seedlings are grown in a well lighted cool greenhouse, approximate minimum temperature 60-65F unless stated otherwise,  until ready to move outdoors.

One week before the planting date, we begin hardening off the seedlings. Hardening is a process of gradually exposing the seedlings to strong outdoor sunlight and cool temperatures. We set the flats outdoors for 1 hour on the first day, 2 hours, the second, then 4, 6, 8 and 10 hours on subsequent days. After that, the seedlings stay outdoors until transplanting.


3-Jan Begonia, Tuberous Begonia x tuberhybrida 70-72 n light 15-30 germinate in mist bed, grow cool
16-Jan Alternanthera , Joseph's coat Alternantera ficoidea 72-76 y-slight light   Cover with vermiculate
16-Jan Coleus Solenostemon scutellarioides 70-75 n light 10-15  
16-Jan Hibiscus Hibiscus sp. 70-72 y   7-10 transplant into 2-inch pots
16-Jan Laurentia Laurentia sp. 70-72 y-slight   5-8 grow on cool, transplant into 3 inch pots
23-Jan Alstroemeria Alstroemeria x hybrida 72-75 y   21-28 Germ temp 42-45 >1 week. Grow Cool
23-Jan Begonia, Fibrous Rooted B. x semperflorens-cultorum 78-80 n   15-20 bottom water
23-Jan Pentas Pentas lanceolata 70-72 n   5-12  
6-Feb Flax Linum perenne 70-73 y   4-8 grow on at 50-55F
13-Feb Linanthus Linanthus androsaceus 59-68 y-slight light 14-21  
20-Feb Calceolaria, Slipper Flower Calceolaria mexicana 55-60 n   10-15 transplant into 2-inch pots
27-Feb Angelonia Angelonia angustifolia 72-76 n light 5-6 Grow on dry side
27-Feb Canna Canna spp. 70-75 1/4"   10-15  
27-Feb Chiastophyllum Chiastophyllum oppositifolium 68-72 n   28 sow in July for sale following June
27-Feb Dichondra Dichondra argentea 70-72 y-slight   5-10  
27-Feb Geranium Pelargonium x hortorum 75 y - 1/8"   5-15  
27-Feb Gerbera Gerbera jamesonii 68-72 y   10-14  
27-Feb Lisianthus Eustoma grandiflora 75 n   10-20  
27-Feb Maskflower Alonosa warscewiczii 68-70 slight   5-8 pinch
27-Feb Penstemon Penstemon sp. 65-68     7-14  
27-Feb Sphaeralcea Sphaeralcea incana 65-70 y   21-60  
27-Feb Turtlehead Chelone glabra 70 y   21-28  
27-Feb Verbascum Verbascum bombyciferum 65-68 n light 5-7  
5-Mar Balloon Cottonbush Gomphocarums physocarpus 70-75 y-slight light 14-21 transplant into 3 inch pots
5-Mar Schizopetalon Schizopetalon walkeri 59-64 y - slight   7-14 start in plugs or cell packs, trans to 2 inch pots
12-Mar Asclepias curassavica 65-70 n   14-21  
12-Mar Bellis 'English Daisy' Bellis perennis 70-75 n   7-14  
12-Mar Calandrinia Calandrinia grandiflora 65 n   10  
12-Mar Carnation Dianthus caryophyllus 65-70 n   14-21 grow on at 50/55 F
12-Mar Carpanthea Carpanthea pomeridiana 70-75        
12-Mar Chocolate flower Berlandiera lyrata 60-71 slight light 30-90 cover with vermiculite
12-Mar Cuphea (Cigar Plant) Cuphea ignea, minuata 70-75 c lt. light 12-15 transplant into 3 inch pots
12-Mar European Meadow Rush Juncus inflexus 64-75 n light 12 transplant into 3 inch pots
12-Mar Foxglove, digitalis Digitalis purpurea 60-65 y   15-20  
12-Mar Hollyhock (not Zebrina) Althea rosea 70 sl light 10-14  
12-Mar Koeleria Koeleria glauca 64-75 n light 4-5 transplant into 3 inch pots
12-Mar Licorice Plant Helichrysum petiolare 70-75 n light 7-14  
12-Mar Osteospermum Osteospermum sp. 70 y-slight   7-10  
12-Mar Rhodochito, Purple Bell Vine Rhodochiton atrosanguineum 70     5-10  
12-Mar Salvia 'Mealy Cup' Salvia farinaceae 75-78 sl light 12-15  
12-Mar Spilanthes, (Eyeball plant Spilanthes acmelia 72-76 y-slight light 4 Cover with vermiculate
19-Mar Anchusa Anchusa azurea 70-72 y-slight   5-10  
19-Mar Arctotis (Blue Eyed Daisy) Arctotis spp. 70-72 y   4-8  
19-Mar Astrantia Astrantia major 55-65 n light 30-60 Cold stratify 4 weeks
19-Mar Bishop's Flower Ammi majus 68-70 y slight 7-14 sow direct to cell packs, 2 seed/cell
19-Mar Bisnaga Ammi visnaga 68-70 y slight 7-14 sow direct to cell packs, 2 seed/cell
19-Mar Catananche , Cupid's dart Catanache caerulea 65-75 y   21-25  
19-Mar Corn Parsley Ridolphia segetum 68-70 y slight 7-14 sow direct to cell packs, 2 seed/cell
19-Mar Drumstick Flower Craspeda globosa 70-75 y   14-18  
19-Mar Dusty Miller Chrysanthemum ptarmiciflorum 72-75 n   10-15  
19-Mar Feather Grass Stipa sp. 64-75 n light 4-5 transplant into 3 inch pots
19-Mar Heliotrope Heliotropium arborescens 70 y   21-25  
19-Mar Polka dot plant Hypoestes phyllostachya 70-75 lightly   7-10  
19-Mar Incarvillea Incarvillea delavayi 70-75 slight   4-8  
19-Mar Japanese Thistle (Plume Thistle) Cirsium japonicum 68-72 y slight   7-14  
19-Mar Juncus pallidus Juncus pallidus 64-75 n light 5-6 transplant into 3 inch pots
19-Mar Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate Polygonum orientale 70-75 y   ? transplant into 3 inch pots
19-Mar Lobelia, Great Blue Lobelia siphilitica 75 n   7-49 Treat with 1000 ppm GA 3 soak 24 hours, some say cold stratify 60 days before this
19-Mar Lupine Lupinus sp. 65-75 y   15-20  
19-Mar Opal Cups Anoda cristata 70-72 y   3-7  
19-Mar Nemophila Nemophila menziesii 65 y   10-14  
19-Mar Nierembergia Nierembergia scoparia 70-75 y   15-20  
19-Mar Oxypetalum Oxypetalum caeruleum 70 n light 5-8 high light, long days
19-Mar Portulaca Portulaca grandiflora 80-85 y   10-15 transplant in clumps of 3
19-Mar Purslane Portulaca oleracea sativa 70-75 y   ?  
19-Mar Shasta Daisy Leucanthemum x superbum 70-75 sl light 10-14  
19-Mar White Lace Flower Orlaya grandiflora 68 y   15-20  
21-Mar Agastache, Mosquito Plant Agastache cana 55 y - 1/16"   4-8  
21-Mar Amaranth Amaranthus caudatus, tricolor 70 y-slight   10  
21-Mar Asarina, Creeping Gloxinia Lophospermum erubescens 70 n light 5-8  
21-Mar Cheiranthus, Wallflower Cheiranthus allionii 55-65 y   7-10  
21-Mar Dahlberg Daisy Dyssodia tenuiloba 65-70 n   10-15  
21-Mar Dusty Miller Senecio cineraria 72-75 n   10-15  
21-Mar Erysimum (Wallflower) Erysimum spp. 68-72 y   2-4  
21-Mar Evening Primrose Oenothera spp. 68-86 n   15-20  
21-Mar Feather Amaranth Amaranthus paniculatus 70 y-slight   10  
21-Mar Livingstone Daisy Mesembryanthemum sp. 65-75 n-dark   15-20  
21-Mar Pigs Ears Cotyledon orbicualta 70     <20  
21-Mar Mexican Hat Plant Ratibida columnifera 70-75 y 1/8"   21-45 reduce temp at night
21-Mar Rudbeckia, black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta 70-75 y   5-10  
21-Mar Salpiglossis, Painted Tongue Salpiglossis sinuata 70-75 n dark 15-20  
21-Mar Santolina Santolina chamaecyparissus 65-75 y - slight   15-20  
21-Mar Verbena, tall Verbena bonariensis 75 y-slight   5-10 chill seed (dry) 1 week, low germ
21-Mar Verbena, Garden Verbena x hybrida 75-80 y-slight   10-20 chill seed (dry) 1 week
21-Mar Verbena, Moss Verbena erinoides 70-75 y-slight   14-21 germ on dry side, more water later
26-Mar Snow on the Mountain Euphorbia marginata 65-70 y   15-20  
26-Mar Basketflower Centaurea americana 65 slight   3-8 Sow 4 seeds per 3-inch pot, thin to 1
26-Mar Burridge Cosmidium burridgeanum 59-68 y slight light 7-14  
26-Mar Chrysanthemum Tricolor Chrysanthemum carinatum 68-70 y   10-18  
26-Mar Coneflower Echinacea purpurea 65-70 y slight 10-15  
26-Mar Erigeron 'Spanish Daisy' Erigeron karvinskianus 70-72 n light 5-10 transplant into 2-inch pots
26-Mar California Poppy Eschscholzia californica 72 slight   6-8 sow direct to plug tray; also sow direct outdoors in fall or spring
26-Mar Flowering Flax Linum grandiflorum 68-70 no cover light 4-8 grow on at 50-55 F
26-Mar Gazania Gazania rigens 70 y dark 8-14  
26-Mar Heliopsis Heliopsis helianthoides 65-70 y slight light 3-10  
26-Mar Impatiens Impatiens wallerana 75-78 y-slight light 15-20  
26-Mar Impatiens Balsam Impatiens balsamina 70 y-slight light 8-10  
26-Mar Palafoxia Palafoxia texana 59-68 n light 14-21 transplant into 3 inch pots
26-Mar Pansy Viola x Wittrockiana 65-75 y dark 10-20  
26-Mar Plectranthus Plectranthus argentatus 68-76 n light 5-7  
26-Mar Viola Viola sp. 65-75 y dark 10-20  
2-Apr Adonis (Pheasant's Eye) Adonis annua 65        
2-Apr African Daisy (Dimorphotheca, Osteospermum) Dimorphotheca auriantiaca 60-70 y   10-15  
2-Apr Ageratum Ageratum houstonianum 78-82 n light 8-10  
2-Apr Amberboa Amberboa muricata 65-70 y-slight   7-14  
2-Apr Winged everlasting, Ammobium Ammobium alatum 68-75 y      
2-Apr Anagallis 'Flaxleaf Pimpernel' Anagallis Monelli 70-72 y-slight   6-10  
2-Apr African daisy, Arctotis Arctotis grandis 60-70 y   21-35  
2-Apr Armeria Armeria maritima 60-70 y-slight   14-21  
2-Apr Blue woodruff Asperula azurea 65 y 1/16" light 7-21  
2-Apr Bachelor's Button (Centaurea) Centaurea cyanus 65-70 lightly   7-14 grow on cool
2-Apr Bacopa Sutera cordata 68-74 n   4-8 surface seed multi seed pellets
2-Apr Bidens Bidens ferulaefolia 68 y dark   pinch
2-Apr Blue Lace Flower Trachymene coerulea   y dark    
2-Apr Blue Spiderwort Commelina coalestis 68 n   7-14  
2-Apr Strawflower Bracteantha bracteatum 70-75 n light 7-10 grow on cool, 3 inch pots
2-Apr Cacalia, Tassel Flower Emilia coccinea 68-72 c   8-15 Direct sow in cell packs 2 seed/cell
2-Apr Bluebells Campanula sp. 68-86 y-slight   10-14  
2-Apr Safflower Carthamus tinctorius 68-72 n light 5-14 Direct sow cell packs 1 seed/cell or direct sow outdoors
2-Apr Chilean Glory Vine Eccremocarpus scaber 60-65 y   7-14  
2-Apr Chinese Foxglove Rehmannia angulata 55-65 n   7-20  
2-Apr Chrysanthemum multicaule & paludosum 60-65 lightly   10-18  
2-Apr Crepis Crepis rubra 59-68 y-slight light 14-21  
2-Apr Echium Echium vulgare 70 y   7-14  
2-Apr Felicia Felicia bergeriana 70 n   7-14  
2-Apr Gaillardia Gaillardia pulcheiia 65-68 n light 15-20  
2-Apr Heteropappus Heteropappus sp. 70 y      
2-Apr Iberis (Candytuft) (annual) 68-72 y   7-14  
2-Apr Jewels of Opar Talinum paniculatum 70-72 y-slight   4-8 transplant into 2-inch pots
2-Apr Larkspur Consolida ambigua 55-60 sl light   chill 1 week before sowing
2-Apr Limnanthes douglasii 60-65 y   14-21  
2-Apr Lobelia Lobelia erinus 75 n   15-20  
2-Apr Love Grass Eragrostis elagans 70-72 y-slight   3-8 grow on at 58-60F
2-Apr Matricaria Chrys. parthenium 70 n light 10-15  
2-Apr Melampodium Melampodium paludosum 65 lightly   7-10 grow on at 60-62F
2-Apr Milk Thistle Silybum marianum 55-60 y   10-15  
2-Apr Mimulus Mimulus 60-70     5-7  
2-Apr Pentzia Pentzia 70 n   14 transplant into 3 inch pots
2-Apr Petunia Petunia hybrida 75-78 n light 10  
2-Apr Phlox Phlox Drummondii 60-65 y dark 10-15  
2-Apr Poppy, Peony-flowered Papaver paeoniflorum 65-75 n light 5-20  
2-Apr Salvia, Scarlet, Scarlet sage Salvia coccinea 70-75 n light 7-12 grow on cool 60F
2-Apr Sage, Clary horminum, viridis 70 n light 3-6 grow on cool 60F
2-Apr Salvia patens 70 n light 4-7 grow on cool 60F
2-Apr Salvia, red splendens 75-78 n light 12-15 grow on cool 60F
2-Apr Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus 70-75 n light 10-14 chill seed several days before sowing
2-Apr Statice Limonium 70 y   5-12 grow cool for earlier flowering
9-Apr African Foxglove Ceratotheca triloba 70-75 y 1/8"   7-20  
9-Apr Agrostemma githago 65-70 y   4-8  
9-Apr Bee Balm (Bergamot, Monarda) Monarda spp. 68-86 y   7 transplant at 4-true-leaf stage
9-Apr Bistort Polygonum bistorta 70 y   20-25 transplant into 2-inch pots
9-Apr Bupleurum Bupleurum grifithii 60 y   14-21 2 weeks chilling, best sown direct
9-Apr Castor Bean Ricinus communis 70-72 y   6-11 2 seeds per pot
9-Apr Centranthus Centranthus ruber 60-70 slight      
9-Apr Cineraria Senicio sp. 70-75 n   10-12  
9-Apr Codonopsis Codonopsis clematidea 70-75 y   8-14  
9-Apr Cup and Saucer Vine Cobaea scandens 70 y-slight   4-8 Pinch, transplant into 3 inch pots
9-Apr Grass, Great Quaking Briza maxima 70 y-slight   4-6 2-4 seedlings per cell
9-Apr Helenium Helenium amarum 60 n light 14-21  
9-Apr Malope Malope trifida 70 slight      
9-Apr Nemesia Nemesia strumosa 60-65 y dark 7-14  
9-Apr Nolana Nolana paradoxa 70 n   15  
9-Apr Orlaya Orlaya grandiflora 68 y   15-20  
9-Apr Pyrethrum Chrys. coccineum 70 y   20-25  
9-Apr Sea Holly Eryngium alpinum 68-70 y   10-15  
9-Apr Xanthisma, sleepy daisy Xanthisma texana 70 n      
11-Apr Alyssum Lobularia maritima 78-82 n light 8-15  
11-Apr Anthemis Anthemis tinctoria 65-68 y   10-14  
11-Apr Brachycome Brachycome iberidifolia 70 y   10-18  
11-Apr Calendula Calenula officinalis 70 y dark 10-14  
11-Apr Cardinal Climber Ipomoea x multifida 65-70 y   5-7 Sow in cell packs, tranfer to 3 inch pot with climbing stake
11-Apr Cleome Cleome hasslerana 80/70 n light 8-21 erratic germ., seed heavily
11-Apr Coreopsis Callopsis sp. 65-75 n light 7-14  
11-Apr Cosmos Cosmis bipinnatus 70 y   5-10  
11-Apr Dahlia Dahlia x hybrida 60-65 y   5-10  
11-Apr Gypsophila, Baby's Breath Gypsophila paniculata 70     10-15  
11-Apr Strawflower Helichrysum bracteosum 70 n light 7-10  
11-Apr Helipterum Everlasting Helipterum roseum 65-75 y   14-20  
11-Apr Hollyhock Althea rosea Zebrina 70 sl light 10-14  
11-Apr Kochia Kochia scoparia 70-75 n light 10-15  
11-Apr Layia 'Tidy Tips' Layia platyglossa 70-75 y   8-12  
11-Apr Malva Malva trifida 70 y      
11-Apr Morning Glory Ipomoea violacea 65-70 y   5-7 Sow in cell packs, transfer to 3 inch pots
11-Apr Nicotiana Nicotiana sylvestris, x sanderae 75 n light 10-20  
11-Apr Nigella, Love in a Mist, Fennel Flower Nigella spp. 65-70 y 1/16"   7-14 Plugs or cell packs
11-Apr Phacelia tanacetifolia 70 n light 10  
11-Apr Poppy P. spp. 65-75 n light 10-15 best if direct sown in the garden
11-Apr Scabiosa (Starflower) Scabiosa atropurpurea 65-70 y   10-15 drop night temps
11-Apr Stock Matthiola incana 65-75 n light 7-10  
11-Apr Thunbergia Thunbergia spp. 68-86 y   10-15 alternate 68 to 86 F
11-Apr Twinspur (Diascia) Diascia barberae 72 n light 4-8 grow on at 55 F
11-Apr Xeranthemum everlasting Xeranthemum anuum 70 y   10-15  
16-Apr Prickly Poppy, Argemone Argemone sp. 65 y      
16-Apr Broom Corn Sorghum vulgare 72-78 y   3-5  
16-Apr Browallia Browallia americana 65-75 n   6-21 Plants have weak stems, support
16-Apr Cardoon Cynara cardunculus 50-60 y 1/8"   5-15  
16-Apr Carex Carex comans 70-75 y   10-14 Cover well, direct seed 48 to 36
16-Apr Celosia Celosia spp. 70-75 y   8-10  
16-Apr Chinese Forget Me Not Cynoglossum amabile 65-75 y   5-8  
16-Apr Convolvulus Convolvulus tricolor 70-80 y   5-14  
16-Apr Godetia Clarkia amoena 70 y slight   10 grow cool
16-Apr Hyacinth Bean Dolichos lablab 70 y 1/8"   14 transplant into 3 inch pots
16-Apr Lagurus Lagurus ovatus 75-85 y slight   4-8 cell packs direct seed, transplant to 2 inch pots
16-Apr Lavatera Lavatera trimestris 70 y   15-20  
16-Apr Linaria 'Three-birds-flying' Linaria triornithophora 55-60 y   10-15  
16-Apr Lions Tail Leonotis leonurus 65-70 y 1/4"   14-21 transplant into 3 inch pots
16-Apr Malabar Spinach Bassella rubra 65-75 y   14-21 Scarify with sandpaper
16-Apr Millet, Ornamental Pennisetum glaucum 72-78 y   3-5  
16-Apr Mosquito Flower Lopezia cordata 70-75 y 1/8"   ? 48 cell packs
16-Apr Nicandra (Shoo-Fly-Plant) Nicandra physalodes 70 y      
16-Apr Ornamental Cabbage, Kale Brassica sp. 68 y   10 transplant so stem is buried up to leaves, grow cool
16-Apr Pumpkin on a Stick Solanum integrifolium 70-75 y   5-8  
16-Apr Mexican sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia 70 y-slight   5-10  
16-Apr Ursinia anethoides ? y-slight   ?  
16-Apr Venus' Looking Glass Legousia pentagonia No heat? n   7-21 transplant into 2-inch pots
16-Apr Zinnia Zinnia elegans 70-75 y   5-7  
23-Apr Canary Bird Vine, Canary Creeper Tropaeolum peregrinum 65-70 y   5-10  
23-Apr Gilia, bird's eyes Gilia tricolor          
23-Apr Marigold Tagetes sp. All kinds 70-75 y   5-7  
23-Apr Mignonette Reseda odorata 70 n light 5-10 seed in plug tray
23-Apr Sanvitalia Sanvitalia procumbens 70 n light 10-15  
23-Apr Schizanthus (Buttterfly Flower) Schizanthus pinnatus 60-70 n dark 20-25  
23-Apr Venidium, monarch-of-the-veldt Venidium fastuosum 62-72 y   14-20  
25-Apr Artemesia annua 70-75 n light 10-15  
25-Apr Cerinthe Cerinthe major 70-75 y-slight     sow directly in cell packs
25-Apr Collinsia Collinsia greenii 70-72 y-slight   14-21 transplant into 4 inch pot
25-Apr Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus, T. minor 65 y dark 7-12  
25-Apr Sunflower Helianthus anuus 65-75 y   10-14  
30-Apr Ambrosia Ambrosia sp. 70 y 1/8"   10-14  
Direct Sweet Pea Latyhrus odoratus 55-60 y   10-14 Sow as soon as soil can be worked in the spring. We cover with clear plastic mulch till seedlings appear
Direct Scarlet Runner Beans Phaseolus coccineus 68-75 y   6-10 Do not sow until soil warmer than 55F


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