This is that time of year when perennial seed you've ordered, like that from seed exchanges, is coming in the mail. Or it should be, if you are not. (the NARGS seedex is still open right now!)If you don't grow your own perennials from seed, you are depriving yourself of a not-too-difficult way to keep you dirty hand in gardening and enrich your garden attainable by no other means.
The pleasure of seed.
Know just two things:
1. It is deeply satisfying- you may grow things you could have never dreamed of or possibly bought.
2. It can be easy, and small. Just a tray in a shadowed place on your patio will do.
Your own plants will be truly more adapted to your climate and garden. The next generation will be even better.
It provides me with a great deal of wintertime sanity: to watch green things growing under lights in the spare room, to go outside for brief moments to see how cold it really is or isn't- and better appreciate a heated house. It also forces me to do a little something on a timeline instead of slipping into the depths of winter complacency. Lastly, it breeds excitement and dreams of new and colorful plants- unbridled by the realities (yet) of getting it done. Is there nothing more delicious than looking at seed catalogues?
For rock gardeners, yes: reading Czech seed hunter lists, seed exchange lists, and and googling names they've not heard of. It sets me on research benders for whole worlds of amazing plants I've never known before.
You can go nuts or stay small. It's up to you. You feel like God if you wind up having a patch of tiny pots like this, seemingly waving up to you with their tiny tags.
I'm not going to write completely about growing rock garden plants from seed, because my friend John wrote a very practical, thorough article here on it.
Most folks find that re-using standard pots they buy plants in is ideal and easy, since they come with trays, but use whatever containers work for you. Egg crates fit into windowsills for things that like indoor temps.
Not all will germinate, and it's not your fault. The more experimental you are, the lower percent germination, but more lessons learned and higher odds of discovering something very cool.
If you like to see things grow in the dead of winter, you don't need a home greenhouse. A windowsill or shelf outfitted with fluorescent lights works for species that are happy with house temperatures (or don't need winter stratification- or, have already been stratified)
Lastly, three very easy groups to start with:
1. Aquilegia. Columbines are fast and easy and don't mind being crowded in a pot for a while.
2. Draba. Needs no stratification; I found just days ago. Quick because they are mustards.
3. Yucca. You can start indoors with no strat
The value of a baby plant is so much more when you have known it since it was in a packet that came in the mail.
Or, how else will you be able to enjoy a little gem in your garden you've only seen hiking?