the seed project: where are they now?

zinnia ‘Envy’

Let’s start with a success story. The green zinnia named “Envy” is one you won’t find at the nursery. Odd that a green flower should capture my fancy when there is already so much green out there. Must have something to do with rarity, a concept familiar to all gardeners.

early zins

Regular zinnias are notoriously easy to grow. These: not so much. Early on (late April or so) my success rate was spotty. These three pots were each planted with five seeds from the same packet. One pot yielded three plants, one coughed up only one and the third…a big zero. I moved all three (and a few others) outside anyway. That laggart came alive and pumped out five plants that soon shot past their coddled brethren.

struggling zinnia in the shade

Placement is everything. Compare the vigorous growth in the first picture to this poor guy struggling in the shade.

baby Amaranth

The seeds for Amaranth were way tiny, so they were scattered as sparingly as possible…and guess what? Same story in the performance department.

planting size

I waited for the successful plants to reach this size before planting them out.

success in a pot

Pretty soon the ones I put in a pot were looking pretty good. My theory was that if they got wonderfully dangly the pot could be raised to show them off.

in-ground failure

The ones in the ground had not thrived…exactly the opposite results from what was expected. Maybe the claims made by potting soil companies are legitimate?

in-ground success

In case you’re thinking I’ve stumbled upon a truism…not so fast. Here is one from the second batch that is doing fine in the ground.

others not so much

If its neighbors had filled in as intended, this would be a nice looking bed filled with ‘Love-Lies-Bleeding’. As it is, one is doing well, the others, so so. But wait! That shade cloth is covering a little Rhody that R is babying along, and it just occurred to me that he must be fertilizing it as part of the program. So much for my “tough love” approach (but please don’t tell him…he’s already incorrigible).

seed tray & cukes

The commercial seed tray setups gave pretty good results. Those four little cucumber plants on the right were responsible for mountains of cucumbers and are producing still.

castor bean seed

I was greedy for Castor Beans, so bought two packets of seeds. The directions advise planting directly in the ground, but I was out to experiment. Some went in the ground and are still so small that I only discover them when weeding.


The rest went into the seed trays, which they quickly outgrew. Get a load of them roots.

comparison plants

They graduated to clay pots, here compared to a couple that were direct sown.

sidy by side castor beans

Proving again that each seed has a mind of its own, these two were raised under identical conditions and came from the same packet of seeds. The one in front is twice as big as the one in back, this time with no fertilizing intervention to account for the difference. This stuff must drive real scientists to the brink of insanity. Of course the one in R’s veggie bed is four times the size of my greatest success and already producing seeds for next year’s crop (sigh). How about you? Have you conducted any experiments this growing season?

10 thoughts on “the seed project: where are they now?

  1. I used the very same Castor bean seeds, my one plant is only about 12 in. tall. So disapointing…that’s the way it goes some years.
    I also had mixed results with envy last year. the few that came up were well worth it, I also loved ‘ Aztec sunset’ fot the midcentery brown, yellow and orange combo.
    My most exciting seeds this year are the Chatham Island for-get-me-nots. Seeds ordered from NZ…crazy. But , so far I have one ,no ,nearly two tiny plants . So maybe noy so mad after after all.

  2. Zinnia ‘Envy’ is a long-time favorite of mine. I’m a nut for chartreuse and had great results in VA, not so much here in TX.

    These kinds of posts are so helpful for reference.

  3. Linda~How are they different from the regular forget-me-nots that self seed around here so freely? Never nuts to go for the extreme and exotic, in my book.

    Shirley~Are you starting ‘Envy’ indoors? I have zero luck with direct sowing it.

    Heather~Even Loree is beginning to express interest, so you may need to jump on the seed bandwagon. There will be plenty at the fall swap, I think.

    Alison~Fertilizer seems to be key.

    Scott~Where there’s a will, there’s a way. How about hanging some planters on vertical surfaces? I can see Amaranth spilling from those.

  4. I had some failures in my seed pots, too numerous to name. I did Castor bean seeds in some small pots, then transplanted them into the garden. Some are thriving, blooming and glorious, others are about a foot tall. My plan was to put them where there were tunnels last year. Not sure that they helped keep the underground tunnelers at bay.

  5. I’m not a seed starter at all, at least indoors. Somehow, I’m not motivated that way. I guess I’m just too lazy and don’t really have a good setup. Last year I grew sweet peas from seed. That’s my sum total experience in the past five years…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *