One of the best ways of all to save on your gardening budget is to start your own plants from seed, especially when it comes to growing expensive flowering annuals like geraniums!
Although geraniums are technically a perennial, they sell in most climates as a perennial. The plant originates from South Africa. Because of that, it can only be overwintered in climates (growing zones 9 through 12) with exceptionally warm winters.
Geraniums are one of the most popular plants of all for flowerbeds, containers and hanging baskets. Their uniquely gorgeous blooms and beautiful foliage can fill any space with big color.
But can then ever be expensive! That is exactly why growing your own from seed can save a gardener big money. And you might just be surprised how easy it is to do!
Geraniums are one of the priciest annual around. Unlike many other annuals, they are often sold individually in larger pots rather than flats. And at a significantly higher cost! In fact, depending on the size of the transplant, geraniums can often cost anywhere from $3 to $6 or more per plant.
But considering you can purchase an entire pack of 75 to 100 geranium seeds for the cost of a few plants, it’s easy to see why growing your own is the way to go. With that in mind, here is a look at how to grow your own geraniums from seed.
How To Start Geraniums From Seed Indoors
For years, geraniums were most often propagated from cuttings for commercial sale. Seeds were not an efficient way to grow the plants quickly. In addition, the seed quality wasn’t the best when it came to producing a healthy plant with good blooming qualities.
But that has more than changed in recent years. Especially with all of the advances in hybrid varieties that not only grow strong and healthy plants from seed, but also produce plants that bloom with intense vigor.
Seed varieties can be found (see seed links below) with blooms in white, red, pink, lavender, salmon, orange and more. In addition, there are many more that have variegated blooms to add even more interest.
- SEED LINKS:
- Maverick Geranium Series Seeds
- Outside Pride Geranium Mix Seeds
- Pinto Premium Series Seeds
Start Your Seeds Early – How To Start Geraniums Indoors
The first key to growing your own geraniums successfully from seeds indoors is starting early. In fact, the earlier the better! Geraniums are slow growing, and they can take a long time to start blooming.
On average, geraniums take about 12 to 15 weeks to go from seed to blooming. With this in mind, it is best to start them indoors about 10 weeks before you plan on planting them outdoors.
To know when to start your seeds indoors, simply count back from your last average frost date. If your last average frost date is June 1st, start seeds indoors around March 30th. This allows for 10 weeks of growth, giving plants plenty of time to germinate and fill out before planting outdoors.
Soaking Seeds Before Planting – Starting Geraniums From Seed
Geraniums not only grow slow, they can be slow to germinate as well. But there is a way to help speed germination, and it all starts by soaking your seeds before planting.
Soaking seeds before you plant them indoors can speed up germinating times by a week or more. To soak, moisten a paper towel, folding it together with your seeds inside.
Next, place the moist paper towel in a plastic container with a lid or a plastic baggy. Place the container or baggy in a warm room or location, and allow the seeds to soak for 24 to 36 hours. Now you are ready for planting!
Planting Geranium Seeds Indoors – Starting Geraniums From Seed
Starting geranium seeds indoors is much the same as starting vegetable plants. The only difference for geraniums is that it is best to use a larger starting size cell or container than you would with vegetable plants.
With the longer growth period of 10 weeks, geraniums need plenty of space to grow their root structure. Avoid using the smaller cell flats with 72 planting holes. Although they can start a lot of plants, they won’t be able to provide enough room to handle growth until the plants are ready for the outdoors.
Instead, use flats with larger and deeper spacing that hold 24 or 36 plants. These provide plenty of room for growing indoors for 10 weeks or more.
Another great option is to use old yogurt cups. The size and depth of the standard round yogurt cup is perfect for starting geranium seeds. Just poke a few drainage holes in the bottom and you are ready to go! See : 3 Great Ways To Make Seed Starting Containers From Recycled Materials
Soil & Planting – How To Start Geraniums Indoors
Once your seeds and containers are ready to go, it is time for planting! Fill your seed starting cells with an all-purpose, loose, nutrient-filled seed starting mix. It is important to start your seeds with plenty of nutrients for growth right from the start.
Plant seeds 1/4 inch down into the soil, planting two seeds in about half of the pots. By planting half of the cells with two seeds, you will have extra to replant if some cells don’t germinate.
Finish by watering lightly, being careful not to over-saturate the soil. A spray bottle works well for this task.
Cover your seed trays or cells with a plastic dome cover or plastic wrap. This is vital to keep the moisture in until they germinate. With pre-soaking, geranium seeds should sprout within 5 to 10 days.
Make sure to keep the seeds in a warm room or location that is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. The warmth is just as important to help germination as the moisture is. Once a few of the seeds have popped through the surface of the soil, it is time to remove the cover and get ready for growing with light!
Lighting – Starting Geraniums From Seed
Once seeds germinate it is time to give them the light they need to grow. Although a sunny window sill might sound good, it is far better to keep seeds directly under artificial indoor light. This is actually the best way to start any vegetable or flower seed indoors.
Unfortunately, sunny windows just don’t give enough light for plants to grow strong. Especially when it comes to geraniums. The good news is this process requires no special equipment or fancy lighting.
Ordinary 4′ fluorescent or LED shop lights work great. Just keep them about an inch over plants as they grow. Moving the lights up as the plants grow will encourage slow, steady and strong growing patterns.
Providing your geraniums with a bit of extra nutrients as they grow will help them fill out fast. The key is to provide the nutrients in a lower dose to not overpower the seedlings. Using an all-purpose liquid plant fertilizer at half of the recommended strength will do the trick.
Fertilize when plants are at about 4 to 6 weeks of growth, and then again at the 8 to 10 week mark. These two applications are more than enough to power your young geraniums up before planting outdoors.
Hardening Off – Starting Geraniums From Seed
Finally, you will need to harden off your plants before they head outside. Hardening off is simply the process of getting plants use to life outdoors.
As the weather begins to warm, take your geraniums outside during the daylight hours in a protected space. Back porches and decks often work well for this. When temperatures cool down at night, bring them back inside.
A week or so before transplanting, your geraniums should be able to stay out around the clock unless a frost or freeze in the forecast. With this process, your geraniums will be more than ready to thrive!
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