Starting Some Flower Seeds: A Tale Of Two Zinnia Packets

From some of my recent blog posts, it may be evident that I’ve been getting a little obsessed with gardening lately, even though I’m still a complete newbie — for more on this phenomenon, you can check out my recent “Bloom Day” post here. So for today’s post, I wanted to share a little seed-starting project I’ve been working on for the past few months.

It all started toward the beginning of April. Due to my newfound gardening obsession, I’d been thinking about maybe trying to grow something from seeds — so during a trip to Lowe’s for something else, I randomly picked up these two packets of Zinnia seeds for $1.35 each. I’ll confess, I knew nothing at all about Zinnias at the time, and only selected them because the pictures on the seed packets looked so full and pretty:

Zinnia Seed Packets

We also picked up a seed starting tray and some potting soil mix — the total expenditure for all of these items was around $10. Here’s the tray during the filling and planting process:

Seed Starting Tray

(The colors are odd because this photo was taken as it was starting to get dark outside.)

I planted one seed in each cell of the tray, using one packet (“Thumbelina Mixed Colors”) for one half and the other packet (“Lilliput Mixed Colors”) for the other half. And after just one week, I actually had some little sprouts popping up:

Sprouting Zinnia After One Week

And after two weeks, they had more than doubled in size:

Zinnia After Two Weeks

But at around the three week mark, we had some casualties. I guess they were finally getting full and leafy enough to start looking like an appetizing cat snack to Grendel, and she completely chomped off two of the plants and severely injured a few others. You can see the two sad little stumps in the foreground of the photo below:

Zinnia At Three Weeks

At this point we moved the tray into the mudroom (which always has the door closed, so Grendel doesn’t have access to it) in order to keep the rest of them from getting eaten.

As a side note, sadly this isn’t the first time Grendel has sabotaged my efforts to have plants inside our house. In her very first appearance on this blog (in this post) you can see a photo of her first leafy murder victim.

This is why I can't grow plants in the house.

(She doesn’t always look this evil, but the photo seemed to fit with all the talk of murder.)

Granted, by now it was getting to be time to transplant these things to the ground anyway. They were getting pretty tall as we approached the four-week mark, though I thought it was kind of interesting how much variation there was in the height of the plants — some were only in the 2-3 inch range, while others towered over them:

Zinnia Seedlings After Four Weeks

And quite a few of them (maybe 12 or so out of the 72 I planted) never sprouted at all. Interestingly, almost all of the ones that didn’t sprout came from the “Thumbelina Mixed Colors” packet, and the plants from that packet seemed to be on the shorter side as well. Here’s a photo showing the entire tray from the side (the “Thumbelina” plants are on the left):

Zinnia Plant Tray

The difference seems pretty obvious, though I’m not sure if there was something off about the “Thumbelina” seeds or if I just wasn’t paying attention when planting them or what.

Anyway, I had originally intended to plant these in various places around the yard, but ended up deciding to plant them all in one section near the corner of the garage. It gets some of the best sunlight in the backyard (and according to the pretty Zinnia seed packets, they need full sun!) plus many of the other planting areas weren’t quite as… “ready” as I would have liked.

So into the ground these little plants went. And I’ll confess that I worried about them a little at first. They just looked so small and thin and frail, like they’d blow over and die if a strong gust of wind blew:

Zinnia Seedlings, Planted In Ground

But over the next few weeks, they grew bigger and stronger and fuller, and any concerns about them being too small faded away. These look like plants that can fend for themselves:

Zinnias Growing Larger

And that’s where the epic tale of these Zinnia seeds ends — for now. None of them have bloomed yet, but yesterday I noticed that a few have little round things that look suspiciously like buds. Will they bloom in time for Bloom Day on June 15th? Maybe… but probably not… but whenever they do, there will surely be a post about it.

(Assuming they bloom at all instead of figuring out some way to fizzle out and die, which would make this whole thing an elaborate exercise in proving what a brown gardening thumb I have!)

What about you guys? Any plants started from seeds in your garden this year? Any troublesome plant-eating habits on the part of your pets? Feel free to share in the comments!


  1. I think your plants look good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will bloom in time. That would be so awesome! Using the seed tray is a great way to start. I, of course, had no idea about that because I really am a brown thumb. I’ve never done well with plants, although I would really like to give it a shot. I want to grow some flowers in front of the house and even start a small herb and/or vegetable garden. Finding the time to do all of this is my main issue, though. Anyway, I think you’re off to a really great start with these flowers. I’m looking forward to seeing to results of your effors. :)

    • Thanks! I’ve never done the seed-starting-tray thing before, so it’s been a fun experience. Hopefully we’ll get some blooms out of them eventually, and if this works out I think I’ll be tempted to try herbs and vegetables next (although I can relate to the time issue — it’s hard enough finding the time just to keep these ones watered!) Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

  2. You’ll have a lovely bed of flowers soon, and some to cut for bouquets! Maybe you could plant some catnip for Grendel!

    • Hehe, I love the catnip idea! Maybe next time if we plant a perimeter of catnip around the edges of the tray, she’ll be too distracted to eat any of the “real” plants. ;)

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