In the Philadelphia area, the last frost (when it's safe to move seedlings outside) is a little less than 6 weeks from now, so start your seeds this weekend and transplant them outdoors once the threat of frost has passed. Estate Gardener at PHS Meadowbrook Farm, Julie Bare, suggests these five seeds to start now.
These large orange blooms are gorgeous in cut-flower arrangements and are also loved by butterflies and pollinating bees. Plant them in full sun, with well-drained soil. They also do well along a border or in a container.
This trendy, leafy vegetable looks great in a garden but also can be harvested and eaten. This healthy veggie is packed with antioxidants! They can mature to two or three feet tall and two feet wide, and the gorgeous burgundy color gets deeper when the temperature drops. The stalks will be ready to harvest in early summer, but can also survive the winter if you want visual interest over the winter months. Just mulch around the stalks and keep protected from drying winds.
Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'
Another leafy vegetable that can be a visual feast in your garden beds, or harvested then feasted on for dinner is this colorful Swiss chard. The stem colors can be red, yellow, orange, gold, or white; while the mild-tasting leaves can be either dark green or burgundy, adding a lot of visual interest to your garden. When transplanting to outdoors, space them 15" apart in rich, moist soil and these hardy plants will thrive!
Dusty Miller 'Silver Lace'
This gorgeous plant features soft, fuzzy leaves is a slow grower, according to Julie, so she recommends starting it right away. It really wows in containers and along garden bed edges, is heat and drought tolerant, plus deer resistant. It will thrive in full sun, or part shade and pairs well with so many other plants and flowers, you really can't go wrong with starting this seed right now.
Lagurus Ovatus 'Bunny Tail Grass'
This plant works well in floral arrangements or as a dried flower, says Julie, and is just so darn cute! Once mature, it will tolerate drought conditions, and can even grow in sandy soil. Transplant your seed starts outside in full sun and in well-drained soil, and it will pretty much thrive without much fuss.
Now that you know what to plant, here are some tips on how to get started!
1. Label and record your flats! Often, when they are just little sprouts, plants can be difficult to tell apart. Ensure you transplant your seeds to the right conditions, label them well at the start.
2. Wide, shallow and plastic containers are the best for starting seeds. And you don't necessarily need a fancy kit from the store. Save items like old yogurt containers or egg cartons, even folded newspapers will work! Make sure to create some holes in the bottoms to ensure proper drainage.
3. Keep them in the sun and warm! The ideal temperature for best seed growth is between 65 and 75 F. You can even place some plastic wrap over your seeds to keep moisture levels constant.
The 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, "Holland: Flowering the World," will usher in spring at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 11 - 19. Learn the latest trends and tips from experts at the Gardener's Studio, at the Ecodome and from our landscape and design exhibitors throughout the Show. Get your tickets today.
PHS Meadowbrook Farm experts will be on hand at the PHS Shop in Hall A, selling an array of plants and flowers during the Show.