Some gardeners have difficulty growing ground cover from seed, but if you maintain control of the seed's environment and growing conditions, your ground cover will be a success.
When ground cover seeds are planted outdoors they are likely to be eaten or out-competed by weeds. For this reason, raise your ground cover plants in containers until they are old enough to survive in the ground. The following instructions will guide you through the process of successfully establishing a ground cover plant fit for survival in nature.
Sprout Seeds in Paper Towels
When you buy any type of seed from a nursery, expect about 70 percent of the seeds to sprout. To guarantee that you plant viable seeds sprout them before planting them in soil. This is easily accomplished by folding together and dampening several sheets of paper towels. Sandwich the seeds between the paper towels (the paper towels should be damp to the touch, not soaked). This will create a dark and moist environment similar to that which the seeds would experience in nature.
For the next several days, the "seed sandwich" to see if any seeds have sprouted and to make sure the paper towel remains moist. Depending on the ground cover specie's gestation period, within ten days several of your seeds should begin sprouting a short white root. This root is your first indication of life and should be treated with the utmost care.
Transfer Seeds to Containers
Sprouted seeds should be planted into a large pot with a scoop of gravel on the bottom, covered by your favorite potting soil mix. Be sure to space the seeds as prescribed by the seed packet with the white root pointing down. It is imperative that you make sure to place the sprout facing down because it is the beginning of your plant’s root system.
Your seedlings will emerge within the next 2 weeks during which time it is unnecessary to fertilize, but imperative to water. It is important to keep your seedlings moist but not saturated. The roots grow in search of water; saturated soil does not encourage the roots to grow. Seedlings require rigorous care during the first four months of their lives because it is the time they are most vulnerable to destruction. Most potting soils fertilize plants up to 6 months; therefore fertilization is unnecessary during this time.
Watering and Fertilizing
Once your seedlings have grown for 6 months, you should develop a watering and fertilizing schedule. Most species require watering only once a week, and should be fertilized every other time you water. Feel free to mist your plants in between watering because they can absorb nutrients and water through their foliage.
Your ground cover plants should be allowed to grow in its container for at least 1 year before being repotted into your garden. Growing ground cover from seed is a rewarding experience, yielding a personalized plant that will beautify your garden for years to come.