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When Do I Start that Seed?

by | Jun 5, 2021

The conversation that sparked this post: 

C: How do I know if it is too late to start the seeds I have? 

Me: Are they warm-season tender annuals or cool-season hardy annuals?

C: It’s a mix, I think. I think I’m making this harder than it has to be. I’m a little overwhelmed…

White Lace Flower is simple to grow—when you plant it at the right time!

I can relate to this frustration. I remember back before I knew when to start what seed when and what a complex challenge it was—unless of course, you chose to simplify it. As I began to type C’s answer I realized there are probably others with this same question, so here’s my answer:

When you plant a specific plant or seed in the garden is all hinged on what type of annual it is. 

Following these suggested steps can simplify seed starting forever. Start a little notebook to store with your seeds and build a seed list for future use that includes: 

???????? What type annual? In a search engine, enter the seed name and ask is it a cool-season hardy annual or warm-season tender annual? Put the answer on your list.

????????Make it easy: sort and store your seeds in these 2 groups based on your results. This really takes the guesswork out of it for the future.

????????Warm-season tender annual transplants can be planted in the garden once nighttime temperatures have reached 60 degrees or above and holding. Plant seeds in the garden once nighttime temperatures have reached 65 degrees or above and holding. You can repeatedly plant many of this group up until 60-120 days before your first fall frost. 

????????Cool-season hardy annual transplants or seeds can be planted 6-8 weeks before your first fall frost or 6-8 weeks before your last spring frost. Whether you fall or very early spring plant or both is based on your winter hardiness zone and the hardiness zone of a given cool-season hardy annual. My book Cool Flowers is all about this group of plants and how to plant for your zone.

Sorting seeds according to their family and following this when to plant rule will have your plants growing at their best with the least amount of intervention. 


Lisa Z

Founder of The Gardener’s Workshop and Flower Farming School Online and the publisher of Farmer-Florist School Online and Florist School Online.  Award-winning Author of Vegetables Love Flowers and Cool Flowers. Watch Lisa’s Story and view her blog Field & Garden. Connect with Lisa on Facebook and Instagram!