Seed Starting and Pelleted Portulaca Seeds

I had posted earlier about starting onion and begonia seeds in February. The begonias are doing well and the onions are outside hardening off in the hopes of planting them in the coming week.

But now the real seed starting has begun. With the last frost date about 6 weeks away, I’ve sown seeds of tomato, pepper, hibiscus, datura, parsley, cutting celery and portulaca.

Portulaca

Portulaca

The portulaca seeds have proved to be a bit of a surprise. This year I found seeds of this flower from Burpee that have a more vibrant color than the standard ones sold at all of the garden centers – at least that’s what the catalog said! I’ve grown portulacas before and knew that their seeds were small.

What I’m finding is that more and more seed companies are pelleting their smaller seeds. What they do is add a coating of inert clay around the seed, thereby making it larger and easier to handle. Petunias and begonias are almost always pelleted as are more and more carrots.

Pelleted Portulaca Seeds

Pelleted Portulaca Seeds

I have to give credit to Burpee for the way they package their pelleted seeds. The pelleted portulaca seeds were in a plastic vial that could be resealed if all the seeds weren’t used. This sturdy little vial is perfect for storing seeds. Since the package had 40 seeds and I’m only looking for a dozen plants, I’ll have seeds for next year.

What surprised me is that I really didn’t get 40 seeds in the packet – 150 is probably closer to the true number. I’m growing the portulacas in Jiffy 7s so I put two of the pelleted “seeds” on each Jiffy 7. As the seed germinated, I was amazed to see that most of the pellets contained 4 or 5 individual seeds. I now have single Jiffy 7s with 8 or 9 portulaca seedlings growing in each one. I’m definitely going to have to do some thinning.

Portulaca Seedlings

Portulaca Seedlings from 2 Pellets

This isn’t usually the case. Most of the times a pelleted seed is a pelleted single seed. In this case, the pellets are pellets of seeds. I’m certainly not complaining – I feel like I really got my money’s worth with this packet of portulacas. It’s a nice surprise and next year I’ll know to plant just one pellet per Jiffy 7.

I still have zinnia and marigold seeds to plant in April but the majority of seedlings are growing now. It really does feel like spring when the fluorescent lights are up and the seedlings are growing under their light.

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