Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!


Even though the sun is shining and spring is on it’s way, the cold nip of the wind still hangs in the air. The garden beckons – and I obey. It is muddy – but drier today than a few days ago. The brisk breeze moves the wind chimes – sometimes ever so slightly, sometimes violently. It is a sound I enjoy and often hear late at night or first thing in the morning upon awakening. Many of the wind chimes are now broken so I cherish the few that are left. I don’t know when I might be able to replace the missing ones.

Many of the bird houses and feeders are on the ground – and some of the birdbaths are now broken. These past few years – especially last year – made it hard to get into the garden to do any type of upkeep. It shows. There is dead plant material and leaves everywhere. Plant tags are scattered. The entire garden is in disarray. Weeds linger that should have been removed long before they ever bloomed – but bloom they did and thus the seven year weed seed cycle begins again. This time I fight the battle alone – or so it seems.

Death was only too real last year. My dad on September 1 and Jerry (my husband) on September 14. My dad fought a long battle here on the farm. His last days were spent in a nursing home. Jerry fought a short battle in the hospital and even though we lived apart that did not make it any easier to cope. He was still my best friend. He went from a diagnosis of cancer to his final resting place in less than two weeks time. He was 41 years old. I found it hard to go into the garden last fall because this garden was started by the two of us. Then old man winter came. It was a hard, cold winter that seems to be lingering on. I saw snowflakes again today. The hard winter had a huge effect on the garden as well.

As I walked through the garden today, I saw signs of death everywhere – but also the promise of spring in those few plants that were emerging. The roses are going to need extensive cutting. I will leave them alone until they begin to bud out but the majority of the rose canes are black. I saw two to three inches of green stem above the ground on most of them. This saddens me greatly. The snowdrops, one hellebore and two of the witch hazels are blooming – but where are the winter aconite and the early spring bulbs? Sleeping under the half frozen ground I hope. I see very few bulbs emerging. Those who follow along know spring is something worth seeing in my garden because of the masses of blooms.

I have lots of trellis structure damage and tree limbs down as well. I don’t know that the trellis’ can be saved. New ones may have to be built. Spring is indeed going to be a time of huge change – not only in the garden, but in my personal life as well. This seems to be a time of deep reflection – and I feel that when I am in the garden. I honestly do not know how badly the winter affected all of my plants – and it may be several more weeks before I can access that damage. I do not suspect the plants that did not survive are going to be replaced – at least not this year. There are other affairs that must be put into order first – and I wonder if the garden grieves with me or if it is simply waiting there to help me through this huge life change.



It has been a long, snowy winter here in Indiana. The large amounts of snow and extreme cold temperatures prevented me from getting the greenhouse up and going in January as I usually do. I am glad the severe weather hit before the greenhouse was put up. I’m convinced that the amount of snow we received would have destroyed the plastic covering – and even if that had not been the case, there is no way the heater I use would have kept the plants warm enough. On the downside, no greenhouse means I didn’t get most of my seeds sown. It looks like it is going to be a late spring, so maybe this is a blessing.

Today we had a heatwave – upper 50′s and lower 60′s (F). I had ventured outside briefly yesterday but today – with the warm temperatures – I couldn’t resist spending most of the day outside in the garden. The ground is soppy wet in some places and frozen or covered in piles of snow in other places. I don’t remember another spring quite like this one since we have lived here. Typically I would have more than just hellebore and witch hazel (picture above) in bloom by now. Typically I would be planting the early spring vegetable garden. This is not a typical year.

I have concerns. Plants that I have never seen have completely brown leaves now have them. I see lots of stem damage on my roses – yes, even the older ones that have been here since 2004. My herbs are not up yet nor are the flowers on the fruit trees about to burst. In fact, I don’t even see signs of the sweet peas, tulips, hyacinth or daffodils yet. What I do see is a lot of pruning, clearing of dead vegetation that did not happen last fall and tight buds on most of the trees, shrubs and other larger plants. This is a good sign.

Tomorrow they are calling for another 5 to 8 inches of snow – then more cold temperatures before we start the upward climb. What this means is I don’t want to do a lot in the garden today – not only because of the threat of more winter weather but also because of the wet, frozen, snowy ground. There were a few things I could do however and that is what I did.

First I filled my bird feeders with black oil sunflower seed and nijer seed. Then the bird baths were filled with fresh water. Broken bird feeders were removed and set up by the house where they could be dealt with later on. Sometimes I can fix them and sometimes they are just beyond repair. During this time it was great to see birds flying in and out of the various bird houses on the property. Their happy songs were very much a sign of spring and oh so enjoyable.

I removed some larger branches that had fallen into various flower beds, staked a few trees and shrubs that were leaning (ones that were in wet, not frozen ground) and pruned one very overgrown Rose-of-Sharon.  I walked around the property carefully inspecting as many plants as I could easily see. I did not walk in the flower beds however. I simply observed from the pathways.

I have a lot of cleanup to do this year – but I am looking forward to spring. I am looking forward to signs of new life – plants emerging from the frozen ground, baby birds learning to fly, bees and butterflies returning to the garden as well as “all things spring.”

Have you looked at your garden yet this year? Where are you on your spring gardening goals?


I really love growing my own celery and typically start the seeds of this wonderful plant on January 12. Since I am in Indiana, I do not end up with stalks of celery but I do not try for that either. I grow the plant in the ground and harvest the leaves. I dry them in my dehydrator and use them as seasoning. I have thought about trying to grow celery in my high tunnel or even in a container just to see if I could get stalks, but to date I have not done this. Have any of you – in cold, short season climates – figured out how to get celery to mature and produce stalks?

Soak celery seeds for 2 to 8 hours to increase germination. It can take anywhere between 14 and 25 days for celery seed to germinate, depending on the exact variety.

Celery Amsterdam Seasoning

Celery Amsterdam Seasoning: This variety is ideal for me because it is grown for the celery flavored leaves the plant produces. It does not form thick stalks – so if that is what you are after, this is not the variety for you. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and 8 inches apart in the garden.

This particular variety reaches a mature height of 12 inches. Germination occurs in 18 to 24 days. Wait until the plant is well established in the garden before harvesting the leaves to use fresh or dry for winter use.


Celery Mix

Celery Mix: I was drawn to this plant because the stalks come in a variety of colors – pinks, reds, golds and greens. I love color in the vegetable garden and I love teaching people about all the unusual varieties of vegetables that are out there on the market. This mix is ideal for both of those goals. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep and 6 inches apart in the garden.

This particular variety germinates in 21 to 25 days. Piling soil around the base of the plant as it grows lengthens and blanches the stems. This variety takes 15 to 19 weeks to mature.


Celery Red Venture

Celery Red Venture: A very uncommon, exotic looking celery with dark red or pink stems sprinkled with green. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Space plants 12 inches apart and place in rows that are 18 to 24 inches apart.

The plant reaches maturity in 100 to 110 days.


Celery Tall Utah Improved

Celery Tall Utah #527OR, Improved: This is the typical super market celery and the most popular variety for home gardeners. It is a cool weather vegetable that produces broad, thick stalks. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep and space the plants 8 inches apart. Plant in rows that are 3 feet apart.

This particular variety germinates in 14 to 20 days. It takes 125 days to reach maturity. It is recommended to blanch this variety for 2 weeks before you harvest it to promote tenderness.

Celery is a heavy feeder so plant it in moist, rich soil and side dress it with fertilizer or compost at least once during the growing season.

Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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National Wildlife Week 2014 will take place from March 17-23 this year and will celebrate wildlife and our mutual connection to Water.  Water is a life source for all living creatures (whether human, animal or plant) and each of us depend on having clean and safe waterways. Over the course of the week, NWF and its partners will highlight this connection by exploring our waterways – From the Mountains to the Rivers to the Oceans.

NWF will shed light on the connection between wildlife and water by examining over 40 different featured species across the country, from the endangered Hawaiian monk seal to swamp rabbits, whooping cranes and loons, spring peepers to spotted salamanders, rainbow trout to walleye and blue crab to dragonflies.

You can get involved by adding an activity or lesson each day to do at home, school or with a youth group in your community.  Host an event highlighting wildlife, such as learning to fish,  taking a hike along a waterway, or even planting trees to help clean our water and provide habitat for wildlife.   Or even join in our social media campaign to get students and adults aware about wildlife and the important role of water.

NWF will provide you with a toolkit with step by step guides, lessons and activities and even a great poster you will need to celebrate National Wildlife Week.  Get started by signing up to get regular email updates and ideas.



To be completely honest with you, I am not a fan of onions. I just don’t like the taste of them. They are a member of the Allium family however and do have a place in every garden. So, what do I do with the onions I grow? I donate them to local food pantries, soup kitchens and sometimes people I know who are in need as part of the Plant-A-Row For The Hungry Program.

I even plant onions in my flower beds around my roses. Members of the Allium family planted around roses do several things – the roses have a stronger smell, a biochemical is released that repels aphids and prevent black spot on roses. Now, don’t ask me exactly how this works, because I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that it does work. This is why there are so many varieties of onions, garlic and even ornamental Alliums growing throughout the property.

It is a good idea to pre-chill onion seeds for at least 30 days before planting them. This is easy to do. Simply put the seed packets in a plastic bag or other sealed container and put them in the refrigerator. Keep them dry. I often store seeds left over from previous years – or seeds I bought in the fall – in the refrigerator. I put the seed packets in small plastic bags, then put those in plastic containers with a lid.

Another option is to direct sow your onion seeds in the fall. This gives them a natural chill. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in heavy soils and 1/2 inch deep in light, sandy soils but do not cover the seeds because they need light to germinate. Onion seeds take 14 to 365 days to germinate. I have had onion pop up from previous years sowings. When this happens, I allow them to grow until they are ready to harvest.

Here are the varieties of onion seed I am sowing this year along with a little bit about each variety. I typically plant onion seeds on January 10.

Onion Evergreen Bunching

 Onion Evergreen Bunching:

This variety is grown exclusively for green onions and is best used fresh. The young green stems are a good chive substitute.

This variety takes 10 to 12 days to germinate. Space the plants 12 inches apart. It is ready for harvest in 60 days.


Onion Spanish Utah

Onion Spanish Utah:

This is a good variety for storing – or growing in the ground over winter. The young green leaves are a good chive or scallion substitute. You can harvest them as soon as they begin to form a globe – however if you want to store them, wait until skins form over the tops of the bulbs and the tops fall over. Hang the onions in a well ventilated area for at least a week after harvesting before removing the tops and placing the onions into storage.

This variety germinates in 7 to 12 days. It is ready for harvest in 100 days.


Onion White Lisbon Bunching

Onion White Lisbon Bunching:

This is another variety of green onion. The tops of this variety remain fresh and crisp long after harvesting but it is not suitable for winter storage.

This variety germinates in 10 to 15 days. It is ready to harvest in 60 to 75 days.


Onion White Sweet Spanish

Onion White Sweet Spanish:

This variety was sent to me to try. It did not come with any growing instructions.


Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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growing seedlings indoors

Statice, botanically known as Limonium, is a wonderful flower to grow for fresh or dried floral arrangements, potpourri and other floral crafts. The flower heads are made up of numerous florets – which are tiny flowers. I prefer to start my statice seeds indoors in peat pellets because they are so small and need the extra growing time. I typically start my statice seeds on January 10.

I sow one tiny seed per peat pellet or soil block. I spread the seeds out on a paper plate and use a pair of tweezers to pick the seeds up one at a time. They are small, black, tiny and very slippery. These seeds require a good amount of patience to sow them in this manner. I lay the tiny seed on top of the peat pellet and do not cover it. I make sure it is making good contact with the soil and then very lightly sprinkle a bit on vermiculite on top. The average germination time is 10 to 20 days.

Statice Rainbow Mixed Colors

Statice Rainbow Mixed Colors:

The seed packet for this variety says it blooms one year after planting. I know for a fact, if you start the seeds indoors early enough you can get blooms the first year. In cold climates this is important because they won’t survive the winter outdoors. The mature height of the plant is 2 1/2 feet. This variety is heat and drought tolerant making it an ideal addition to rock gardens.

This particular variety takes 14 to 20 days to germinate. Space plants 18 inches apart in the garden. Harvest the flowers before they are fully open and hang them by the stems – flowers facing the floor – in a dark, dry, airy place until they are dry.

Statice Soiree Deep Blue

Statice Soiree Deep Blue:

This seed packet does not have germination or harvesting times on it. It does recommend using bottom heat to help speed germination.

Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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Starting peas early in the year is not something most people think about – but did you know you can plant peas as early as January 6 in Indiana, USDA Hardiness Zone 5 and 6? While I didn’t get out into the garden or hoop house to plant my pea seeds this year because of the blizzard, I have done it plenty of times in the past. Sometimes the pea seeds I plant later in the year germinate faster, however the ones I plant this early come up stronger – and the difference in germination times is two to three days.

So what’s the point of going out in the cold weather and planting pea seeds if they don’t germinate earlier? Well there are several advantages. The first one is you have one more crop planted and ready to go come spring. This has made a huge difference here because during the early spring months it gives me more time in the greenhouse and barn to deal with seedlings and baby animals. As I said, the plants are actually stronger – something that I hadn’t expected but saw with my own eyes. Another advantage is you don’t have to worry about how wet your garden is come spring – and we all know you shouldn’t work wet soil.

saving pea seeds

Here is a little bit of basic information on seed starting. First, most pea seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days – the exception being the ones you plant before the ground begins to warm up. It is best to direct sow pea seeds in the garden and I do cover my pea seeds with row cover or plant them inside a tomato cage. This helps prevent critters from digging them up and they climb on the tomato cages once they begin to grow making harvesting easier. An alternative to tomato cages is garden netting. Sow pea seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. A good rule of thumb is to make the planting hole twice the depth of the actual seed. As you can see from the photo above, pea seeds come in different colors and sizes. This is why knowing how deep to plant each seed is important. Planting seeds too deep affects germination. The seeds in the photo above are ones I saved from my own garden.

To prevent peas from cross-pollinating, it is recommended to plant only shelling peas or only edible-pod peas in the garden. If you want both, plant one as an early crop in the winter/early spring and plant the second type in late summer/early fall. To estimate the best time to plant fall harvested peas, add the maximum germination time for the variety you want to grow plus the number of days to harvest then figure out what your first fall frost date is. Count the days backwards and you will have the last possible summer planting date for that particular variety.

For example – let’s look at the Alaska Pea. It takes 7 days to germinate plus up to 60 days before it is ready to harvest. That means it takes 67 days minimum to get a harvest from this pea. Our first fall frost date in Indiana is September 15. That means the last day I would want to plant would be July 21. Now since this is pushing it – unless I use a cold frame or frost cover – I would plant three plantings of peas – one planting on that day or maybe the day before, one planting the week before and one planting the week before that. This assures me that I am going to get some peas from my fall crop. If I used row cover or cold frames to protect them (although peas can take a light frost) I will continue to harvest peas until the first hard frost which is typically mid to late November.

Here is the varieties of peas I am growing this year and a bit about them.


This is a very  common variety of shelling pea. A shelling pea is the type that you remove the peas from the pod. They require a bit more work at harvesting time because of this but some people prefer them instead of the edible pod type.

Typically this variety takes 7 days to germinate and is ready to harvest in 55 to 60 days. Plants seeds 1 to 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart.

Blue And Yellow Blend Edible Pod:

These are my favorite and a garden staple. I ordered these from Cook’s Garden. Although the packet says they are a bush type, they will climb if given something to climb on.  They have edible pods and taste best when harvested as soon as you see signs of the pea beginning to swell. I personally do not care for the older peas because I think the pod gets tough and they loose their sweetness. The blue (purple) and yellow peas add color to the garden, color to the plate – especially if eaten raw and are a sure conversation piece at the farmer’s market.

Dwarf Grey Sugar:

This is another variety with edible pods. It is an heirloom variety as well. It is a good choice for those who preserve their garden peas in the freezer.

Typically this variety takes  8 to 12 days to germinate and is ready to harvest in 65 days. Plants seeds 1 1/2 inches deep and 2 inches apart.

Dwarf White Sugar:

This is an open-pollinated heirloom variety first introduced in 1941. The seeds came from a friend’s garden.

It is ready to harvest in 59 days.

Early Frosty:

This seed packet was sent to me to trial. I have no information on it as there was none on the packet and I haven’t actually grown it yet.

Edible Pod:

This is a mixture of the different types of edible pod peas I grow in my garden. All the seeds were saved from my own plants. I get yellow, purple, green and sometimes speckled pods from these seeds. I harvest them just as the peas begin to swell inside the pod.


This is an edible-podded variety that says the pods reach 4 1/2 inches long. I am anxious to trial this variety. I am very curious about the taste.

Typically this variety takes 7 to 14 days to germinate and is ready to harvest in 68 days. Plants seeds 2 inches deep and 6  inches apart. Allow 2 feet between rows. While this seems like extreme spacing compared to other varieties of peas, larger varieties of vegetables do require more growing room. This allows each plant to take up more nutrients and water.

Little Marvel:

This is a highly-productive shelling pea ideal for canning or freezing.

Typically this variety takes 8 to 10 days to germinate and is ready to harvest in 60 days. Plants seeds 1 to 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart.

Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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Dianthus is one of my favorite flowers. I love the fragrance. I love that some varieties are edible. I love that some varieties make excellent cut flowers. I love that it self-seeds in the garden. In fact the only things I don’t love is the fact that not all varieties come back and that some varieties are rather short-lived plants in my garden coming back for a year or two and then disappearing for good.

As a member of the North American Rock Garden Society I have had the privilege to grow a number of varieties that are not readily available as seeds or even plants in the marketplace. I have also learned a lot about growing Dianthus from seed. I have used the winter sowing method repeatedly and had wonderful success. I’ve also started seeds indoors under lights and in damp paper towels. Whatever method you use, the seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees F. The seeds take 10 to 21 days to germinate and should barely be covered with soil. I typically start my Dianthus seeds on January 3.

Remember these are rock garden plants, so they grow in less than ideal conditions in the wild. Do not overwater them and if possible, when planting in the garden, plant them in a raised bed or elevate the area they are growing in with some rock. I have found growing them in raised beds helps them live longer.

Here are the varieties I am growing this year and a little bit about them:

Carnation Chabud Giant Mixed Colors:

This variety is a half-hardy perennial – so more than likely, it won’t come back in my garden – but it could self-seed. It has large flowers and a spicy, clove-like fragrance. It is the variety often used by florists. The plants reach a mature height of 20 inches.

The seeds take 10 to 15 days to germinate. The plants take 60 to 90 days to begin to flower, so start this one early indoors under lights. In the garden, space the plants 12 inches apart. It is possible to grow this plant year-round indoors in containers.

Carnation Enfant de Nice:

If you are looking for an old-fashion carnation that is intensely scented and a perennial, this is the variety for you. Renee from Renee’s Gardens suggests that you do not bury the stems or crowns of this plant when you transplant it into the garden. She also says proper spacing is essential for strong stems and for less susceptibility to foliage disease. She also recommends cutting the plants back to the base once they finish flowering the first time. This will encourage the plants to bloom a second time.

The seeds take 7 to 14 days to germinate. The plants reach a mature height of two feet.

Dianthus Baby Doll Mixed Colors:

This variety reaches a mature height of 6 inches. It is an annual, but does self-sow. Space plants 6 to 8 inches apart in the garden.

The seeds take 8 to 10 days to germinate.

Dianthus knappii Yellow Harmony:

Disclaimer: I received these seeds to trial. All opinions are honest and my own.

I did not receive any information on these seeds. I do know the flowers are yellow.

Dianthus Maiden Pink:

I love the vivid fuschia pink of these flowers. This variety makes a great groundcover and is ideal for rock gardens. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9. This particular variety reaches a mature height of 6 to 12 inches. Space them 12 inches apart in the garden.

The seeds take 10 to 14 days to germinate. Be sure to deadhead – or cut off – the faded flowers to encourage this plant to keep blooming.

Dianthus Pinks:

This variety is also a perennial. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 10. The mature plants reach a height of 12 to 24 inches. It blooms in late spring and early summer. Gardeners in cold areas should mulch the plants well before winter. Divide the plants every couple of years, especially if you notice the center of the plant is turing brown and beginning to die back.

The seeds take 15 to 20 days to germinate.

Dianthus superbus:

This seed came with an information sheet that I misplaced. I was intrigued by the description of the plant. The seed I planted on December 27, 2013 already sprouted. Looks like there may be photos of this plant in bloom later in the year to share.

Sweet William Double Dwarf Mixed Colors:

Fragrant blossoms on compact plants is what makes this variety popular with some gardeners. It performs well in the ground and in containers. It is a biennial and takes 60 to 90 days to bloom. Space the plants six inches apart in the garden.

The seeds take 5 to 10 days to germinate.

Sweet William Tall Double Mixed Colors:

Showy, spreading, fragrant and long blooming describes this variety. A favorite plant in my garden. It is recommended to mulch the plants well if you live in a cold climate. It does self-seed but that is not always a guarantee that you will get plants every year if you do not mulch them. This is a biennial. The plants reach a mature height of 2 feet. Space the plants 16 inches apart in the garden.

The seeds of this variety germinate in 6 to 10 days.

Other varieties of Dianthus I have grown include:

Carnation ‘Chabud Mix’

Carnation ‘Chabud’s Mixed Colors’

Carnation ‘Dwarf Fragrance’

Carnation ‘Fenbow Nutmeg’

Carnation ‘French Flounce’

Carnation ‘Giant Chabud Double Mixed Colors’

Carnation ‘Grenadin Black King’

Carnation ‘Mini Spice Peppermint’

Carnation ‘Stripes and Picotees’

Carnation ‘Trailing’

Carnation ‘Dwarf Fragrance’

Carnation F1 ‘Can Can scarlet’

Carnation ‘Enfant de Nice’

Dianthus – red

Dianthus ‘Amaranth’

Dianthus ‘Award cherry’

Dianthus ‘Award Purple’

Dianthus ‘Award red’

Dianthus ‘Black and white minstrel’

Dianthus ‘Brno’

Dianthus ‘Clinc Pinks’

Dianthus ‘Crimsonia’

Dianthus ‘Dottie’

Dianthus ‘Double Gaiety Mix’

Dianthus ‘French Frills’

Dianthus ‘Ipswich Pinks’

Dianthus ‘Spring Beauty’

Dianthus ‘Super Parfait Raspberry’

Dianthus ‘Super Parfait Strawberry’

Dianthus ‘Tall double flowered mix’

Dianthus ‘Telstar Purple’

Dianthus ‘Velvet and Lace’

Dianthus ‘Victoriana’

Dianthus alpinus

Dianthus amurensis

Dianthus arpadianus

Dianthus barbatus ‘Double Flowered Mixed Colors’

Dianthus barbatus ‘Noverna Violet F1’

Dianthus barbatus ‘Noverna White F1’

Dianthus barbatus ‘Novernae Purple F1’

Dianthus barbatus F1 ‘Noverna Coral F1’

Dianthus barbatus F1 ‘Noverna Formula Mix F1’

Dianthus barbatus F1 ‘Noverna Salmon/White Eye F1’

Dianthus barbatus F1 “Noverna Pink’

Dianthus barbutus F1 ‘Noverna Crimson F1’

Dianthus callizonus

Dianthus caryophilus ‘Dwarf Fragrance’

Dianthus caryophylles cultivars

Dianthus caryophyllus

Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Clove Drops’

Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Clove Drops’

Dianthus caryophyllus ‘King of the blacks’

Dianthus collinus

Dianthus deltoides

Dianthus deltoids

Dianthus deltoids ‘Albus’

Dianthus fragrans ‘Pink’

Dianthus freynii

Dianthus gratianopolitanus

Dianthus imereticus

Dianthus imereticus

Dianthus japonicus

Dianthus japonicus v albiflorus

Dianthus knappii

Dianthus myrtinervius

Dianthus pavonius

Dianthus petraeus

Dianthus petraeus ssp noeanus

Dianthus plumarius – pink/red/white

Dianthus plumarius ‘Pink’

Dianthus requienii ‘Blue’

Dianthus serotinus ‘Pink’

Dianthus ‘Siberian Blues’

Dianthus species

Dianthus squarrosus

Dianthus tenuifolius

Dianthus viscidus

Dianthus whergii

Sweet William – mixed colors

Sweet William – mixed dwarf

Sweet William ‘Sootie’

Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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Creative K Kids


January is the tale-end of the seed starting season for Pansy and Viola seeds. At least it is for me since I typically start them in November. I like to give the seeds of these two varieties plenty of time to germinate, grow and flower. Ideally I want mine in bloom and hardened off by the end of March. These are some of the first flowers I plant in the garden – and in window boxes.

In fact, here in Indiana, USDA Hardiness Zones 5 and 6, I often get them to overwinter outdoors and bloom throughout the winter months. They do die back during the hardest part of winter, but typically come back to life as the weather warms up. Sometimes they set seed. I allow this to drop into the garden or window box because I know when the time is right, the seeds will germinate and I will have a surprise flower in the garden.

Pansy and Viola are ideal seeds for winter seed sowing. The seeds germinate best when the soil temperatures are between 65 and 75 degrees F. The seeds need darkness to germinate, so cover them with 1/4 inch soil, seed starting medium or vermiculite. You do not need to worry about covering the seeds that fall into the garden on their own. Let nature take care of that. The average germination time is 10 to 21 days.

Here are the varieties I am growing this year and a little bit about them:

Pansy Swiss Giants Mixed Colors:

Fragrant, extra-large blooms make this particular variety of pansy popular with gardeners. The plants reach a mature height of 6 to 8 inches. Space plants 4 to 6 inches apart.

The average time for germination is 10 to 20 days. This variety does tolerate light frost. Deadhead – or remove – the faded flowers to encourage continual bloom. A good companion plant is the low-growing annual babies breath.

Viola Helen Mount:

What can I say? I cut out the name of the seeds and threw the rest of the tag away. I’m not sure why I did that.

Viola cornuta Painted Black:

Disclaimer: This was a trial packet of seeds given to me for review by the seed company. All opinions are my own and are honest.

There was no information that came with this packet of seeds about this particular plant. I will germinate the seeds using my own knowledge.

Other varieties of Pansies and Violas I have grown include:

Pansy – white with dark purple face

Pansy ‘Banner Daffodil Mixed Hybrid’

Pansy ‘Black’

Pansy ‘Cello Violet Face’

Pansy ‘Chalon Formula Mix’

Pansy ‘Flambe Red Hybrid’

Pansy ‘Flameco Hybrid Mix’

Pansy ‘Flamenco F1 Hybrid’

Pansy ‘Flamenco Hybrid Mix’

Pansy ‘Light Strawberry Sundae Hybrid’

Pansy ‘Mixed Colors’

Pansy ‘Paper White’

Pansy ‘Petite Bronze Hybrid’

Pansy ‘Purple Rain’

Pansy ‘Rhine Gold’

Pansy ‘Rippling Waters’

Pansy ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Pansy ‘Springtime Lemon Splash Hybrid’

Pansy ‘Swiss Giant’

Pansy ‘Ultima Morpho’

Pansy ‘Universal Citrus Hybrid Mixed Colors’

Viola – seed saved from the garden

Viola ‘Baby Lucia’

Viola ‘Bambini Mixed Colors’

Viola ‘Blue on blue’

Viola ‘Bowles Black’

Viola ‘Cuty’

Viola ‘Jewel Yellow’

Viola ‘King Henry’

Viola ‘Miniola Purple Heart’

Viola ‘Prince John’

Viola ‘Satin Bou doir’

Viola ‘Velour Blue Bronze’

Viola ‘Victorian Posy Pansies’

Viola ‘Violin purple and white’

Viola ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’

Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Orange Duet’

Viola cuculata ‘Striata Alba’

Viola koreana ‘Sylettas’

Viola tricolor – Johnny Jump Up

Viola variegate v. nipponica

Viola x wittrockiana ‘Flamenco’

Viola x wittrockiana ‘Satin Boudoir Pansies’

Viola xwilliamsii ‘Angel Black’

Viola xwilliamsii ‘Angel Frosted Yellow Blotch’

Viola xwilliamsii ‘Angel Tiger Eye’

Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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Ah – Snapdragon – botanically known as Antirrhinum ! An early spring flower that will tolerate light frost and keep on blooming. Snapdragons are a common flower, but one sure to delight the little ones in your life if they are allowed to play with some of the blooms which look like the top and bottom of a dragons head (use your imagination). Little ones delight in moving the flower heads together making the dragon talk – or eat bugs as the case may be.

Snapdragons come in all colors and sizes from short to tall. There are even double-flowered varieties which are my personal favorite. The taller ones are ideal for cut flowers. They are annual plants which means they just grow, bloom, set seed and die – however sometimes – depending on where you live, the seeds that fall to ground germinate the following spring. I have had that happen here in Indiana, USDA Hardiness Zone 5 and 6.

Typically I start my snapdragon seeds on January 3. I want them to have plenty of time to germinate and grow before it is time to plant them outdoors – and I know if I see them in bloom before the ones I grew from seed begin to bloom, I’ll end up buying a flat or two. After all, one simply cannot have too many early spring blooming plants that can survive light frost.

The seeds require light to germinate, so sow them directly on top of your preferred seed starting medium, press them lightly into the top of the pre-moistened soil and always water the containers of seeds or seedlings from the bottom. You do not want to disturb the tiny seedlings root system. I prefer to sow my seeds right on top of pre-moistened vermiculite because I find this helps prevent dampening off. The seeds also need cool temperatures in order to germinate. For those of you who use the winter sowing method of seed starting, snapdragons are an ideal candidate.  The average germination time is between 10 to 21 days based on my own personal experience.

Here are the two varieties I am growing this year along with a little bit of information about each variety.


Magic Carpet Mixed Colors Snapdragon:

This variety is free-flowering and compact, reaching a mature height of just six inches. The flowers are full size. Deadheading – or cutting off the faded flowers , encourages the plant to keep producing new flower spikes.

The seeds take 10 to 15 days to germinate. Plant seedlings 10 to 12 inches apart in the garden.


Tall Deluxe Mixed Colors Snapdragon:

This is a good choice if you are growing snapdragons for cut flowers because the plants reach a height of 3 1/2 feet. It is ideal for the back of the border and is a very vigorous variety. Expect a flush of blooms in early summer. Deadhead the spent blooms and the plants will produce a second flush of blooms in the fall.

The seeds germinate in 10 to 14 days. Space plants 10 inches apart in the garden.

Other varieties of snapdragons I have grown in the past include:

Snapdragon  mix- open-pollinated seed from the garden

Snapdragon mix – large and small

Snapdragon – T & M new 2004

Snapdragon ‘Azalea White’

Snapdragon ‘Bells Pink’

Snapdragon ‘Black Prince’

Snapdragon ‘Chimes Bronze’

Snapdragon ‘Cinderella Mix’

Snapdragon ‘Cinnamon Bronze’

Snapdragon ‘Double Azalea Flowered Mix’

Snapdragon ‘Fancy Mix’

Snapdragon ‘Frosty Lavender Bells’

Snapdragon ‘Gum Drops Mix’

Snapdragon ‘La Bella Mixture’

Snapdragon ‘La Bella Rose’

Snapdragon ‘Liberty Classic White’

Snapdragon ‘Magic Carpet’

Snapdragon ‘Maximum Mixture’

Snapdragon ‘Night and Day’

Snapdragon ‘Rainbow Mix’

Snapdragon ‘Ribbon Light Pink’

Snapdragon ‘Ribbon Purple’

Snapdragon ‘Select Dragon Pink’

Snapdragon ‘Tall Rust Resistant Mixed Colors’

Snapdragon ‘Yellow Chimes’

Snapdragon ‘Rainbow Mix’

Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting! Download a free sample chapter for your Kindle device today!

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