As a general rule, flowers can be sown in the garden when the soil has warmed to at least 55°F. Flower seeds sown outdoors germinate best in well-worked, loose-textured soil. Flowers respond to fertilizer and good watering practices. Add 1-2 cups of our complete fertilizer per 10 row feet to provide adequate nutrition. Seeds should be buried 2 times their narrowest dimension and covered with finely raked soil or vermiculite unless otherwise noted. Some varieties can take over a month to germinate so mark your rows, keep them moist, and for larger seeds like sunflowers, use bird netting to deter your feathered friends. To encourage earlier blooms, many varieties can be started indoors or in a greenhouse. Always start with a sterile seedling mix and clean pots. Sow 5-6 weeks prior to your last frost. Most seeds germinate better if kept warm, 70-80°F, and covered with a sheet of plastic or a Propagation Dome to retain moisture. If seeds need darkness, cover with 2 sheets of newspaper. Remove the plastic or newspaper upon the first signs of germination. The most common mistake is over watering. Keep the soil moist, not soggy, and provide adequate drainage. A slight airflow helps reduce fungus problems such as damping off. We recommend feeding your seedlings a balanced grow formula, diluted to 1/4 strength. This will provide the right amount of nutrition for your young plants. Up-pot if necessary and transplant out after the danger of frost has passed. For more information please refer to the germination codes given for each variety, as well as the additional culture blocks throughout this section. Then enjoy a gorgeous display of blooms all summer long!