Growing Morning Glories and Moonflowers from Seed
In Growing Morning Glories and Moonflowers from Seed – Part One, we prepared our morning glory seeds by soaking them in warm water overnight. From the looks of it, we have had great success in sprouting our morning glory seeds! Today, we are going to plant them in peat pellets to get them started. We will be keeping them indoors until well past the recommended growth level for transplantation to give them a better chance to harden up before they are exposed to our pervasive, slimy pests.
Take a look at our sprouted seeds:
Peat Pellet Kits
As I’ve mentioned before, I love these little peat pellet kits! They are inexpensive, can be purchased at most any garden center, WalMart, or online, and you can keep the tray and buy peat pellet refills. Very economical, and they work like a charm.
I have some peat pellets in my tray that got wet when I left them out in the rain one night, so some of mine are partially pre-expanded. They are, however, bone dry, so they will benefit from the hydration process just as the un-expanded pellets will.
There are several sizes of peat pellets, and they probably vary by manufacturer. I am using large ones today because the small ones did not provide enough support previously.
Hydrating the Peat Pellets
The peat pellets have been placed in their tray, and now, it’s time to hydrate. I recommend using warm water, as it seems to soak in faster. Don’t pour in a lot at once, or your pellets will be floating around in the tray. If they pop up, you may want to push them back down gently and hold them, but you don’t have to. Once they have hydrated, they will stay in their individual compartments much easier.
Continue pouring warm water into your pellet tray every few minutes until your pellets are completely hydrated. This could take up to half an hour. They should all expand to roughly the same height with no more folds in the outer casing.
Dealing with Excess Water
If/When you have water sitting in the bottom of the tray after all of your pellets are fully expanded, it is best to drain this water out to prevent mold and fungus. You can do this a couple of ways. I have tried tipping the tray while holding the pellets in place on top – does not work well. It’s heavy because of the amount of water soaked up by the pellets, and it is cumbersome to manage.
I recommend leaving one compartment empty, setting something under the tray to encourage draining to this compartment, and removing the extra water with a syringe. The kind you get with children’s medicine is perfect for this purpose, and you can usually get one or two of these free at any pharmacy if you don’t have some lying around.
Funny story: The pharmacist may want to know why you want syringes. My husband got a few for me to use while flushing our printer’s ink jets, and the pharmacist looked at him like he was crazy when he explained what they were for.
Mapping Our Pellets
Before we plant our seeds, we need to find a way to label our pellets. This can be a challenge in an area that gets frequently wet, so I make a map instead. You can draw it on paper or set it up on your computer like I did here. Just make sure you mark a corner of the tray so you know how your map needs to be oriented. In this case, I have marked it with a piece of teal-colored ribbon that I attached it with a hot glue gun. On the seed map, this is represented by the teal box in the bottom right corner.
Our seed packets in this project tell us to plant our seeds one-quarter inch to one-half inch below the top, depending on the seed type. One of the easiest ways to measure this within the pellet is to mark a short dowel rod at quarter-inch intervals, as shown below. You can mark a pencil or anything else handy of that size and shape. Just make sure you mark it with a permanent marker of some sort. The shape of the rod or pencil makes a convenient sized hole for seed placement.
Take a small knife or other point and stir up the pellet surface down to about an inch before planting your seeds. If you plant into matter that is packed too tightly, your seeds may have difficulty finding room to grow.
Growing Morning Glory Seeds
Take your dowel rod (or other stick) and push down into the pellet to the planting depth that the seed packet recommends. Remember that the seed itself takes up space, so you want to push the entire seed down below the level recommended for seed depth. In this case, we have sprouted five seeds per morning glory variety, so we are going to plant two seeds each in two pellets and one seed in another pellet.
Carefully place a seed in each hole you made with your rod, and gently pull some of the peat from the surrounding pellet into the hole. Press the top gently to cover, and place in your tray. Remember to accurately mark your map!
Planting Moonflower Seeds
I am using fifteen of my sixteen compartments, and after planting my morning glories, I have used twelve of my fifteen slots. Moonflowers will be planted in the remaining three. These also get planted at a depth of one-quarter inch, but they do not require nicking and soaking. I am planting two seeds per pellet for a total of six.
I have marked this on my pellet map, put the clear pellet tray topper on, and now it’s time to grow! Because we hydrated our pellets before planting, you don’t really need to water them. However, I’m going to take my syringe and add just a few drops directly on top of each pellet.
Make sure you have a good place to keep your pellet tray out of the reach of children and pets. It does not require a lot of light yet, but you don’t want to put it somewhere you will forget about it. If you have houseplants, keep your tray nearby. Since the tray and its clear top make a perfect little greenhouse, watering needs are minimal for a while, but they will outgrow that topper pretty quickly. We’ll talk about what to do then in my next post.
In the coming days and weeks, I will add photos of the progress and make notes as things progress. If you have any questions or problems during this process, please let me know, and I’ll help in any way I can.
Til next time,
Happy planting, and stay healthy and safe!
Bunny & Greg
The Grey Gnome