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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Sprouting Seeds

​​Sprouting Seeds Learn from Home

​Getting Re​ady

Welcome to our Sprouting Seeds - Learn From Home Program! 

If you participated in our contest, you should now have received seeds for four different varieties of native plants. 

If you didn't participate, don't worry! You can use any seeds - even ones from vegetables you have at home - tomatoes, peppers, lemons, oranges. Some of those may need a bit of extra preparation (like drying out or soaking in water). Practice your research skills to find out more about your seed and how to prepare it! Need a hint? Use the word "germination" (in other words how seeds turn into plants!)​

When you have your seeds, you can set up your starter garden with any materials that you have available at home. Plastic cups with holes punched in the bottoms, newspaper rolled into paper pots, toilet paper or paper towel rolls cut down.

​Watch our video and learn how to set up your garden.


Get to Know Your Native Plants

A close-up of the wild bergamot flower with purple petals.Wild Bergamot – Monarda fistulosa

Characteristics: Wild bergamot can be found in fields, meadows, and ditches. It grows large clusters of lavender or pink flowers that are 5 - 10 cm per head. It will grow up to 1.5m tall.

Value: It is a beneficial nectar source for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

A close-up of a pearly everlasting wildflower. White petals with a yellow centre.

Pearly Everlasting – Anaphalis margaritacea​

Characteristics: Pearly everlasting can be found in open woods, roadsides, and waste areas. It has white petals arranged around a yellow centre in a globe-like shape. It will grow up to 1m tall

Value: It is  a good food source for Painted Lady butterflies, and  native bee species

New England Aster wildflowersNew England Aster – Symphotrichum novae-anglie

Characteristics: New England aster can be found in wooded areas, meadows, and stream banks. It has dainty bright lavender petals that connect to the orange-yellow centres. It will grow up to 1.5m tall.

Value: Bees and butterflies frequent this flower. It is also a nectar source for monarch butterflies.

Three evening primose wildflowers.Evening Primrose - Calylophus serrulatus

Characteristics: Evening primrose can be found in dry open plains and prairies. It has brilliant yellow four-petaled flowers that continue to bloom throughout the summer. It will grow up to 1m tall.

Value: A good nectar source for pollinators, especially solitary bees.

Print a copy of "Get to Know Your Plants"

Caring for Your Plants

Show your plants a little TLC:

  • Keep it covered - Keep the starter garden covered with plastic wrap until the seeds germinate.  Then remove the plastic wrap to avoid mo​​uld growing on the soil.
  • Caution - Mould! - Mould may begin to grow on the top of the soil before your seeds begin to germinate. This will inhibit the germination of the seeds. You may need to reduce the amount of water or remove the plastic wrap from the tops of the pots for about an hour to let the soil dry out slightly.
  • Bottom Watering - Always water the plants by adding water to the bottom of the starter garden bin. Avoid pouring water on top of the soil as this may displace the seeds.
  • Too Much Watering - Check your starter garden daily to ensure the top of the soil is consistently moist but not overwatered.
  • Root Control - As the seedlings begin to establish themselves and grow larger, the roots may grow out of the bottoms of the pots and into the starter garden bin. Clip off these roots so that the growing root mass stays inside the pot​.
  • Watch the light - Whatever light source you are using should always be about 10cm above the tops of the plants. Move the light up as the plants begin to grow. The lights should be on about 16 hours per day for maximum germination and growth.​​​

Please note:

  • Plants should germinate within 10 days, BUT some seeds are so small you will not see anything without a magnifying glass. Use a magnifying glass to see the germinated seeds.
  • Some seeds will look like little hairs or short grass when they first start to sprout. Other seeds will look more like a small plant, sprouting from the soil.​

Plant Growing Timeline

​Week 1​
​Set up your Starter Garden.
Create a routine for monitoring the plants’ progress.  See the section on Plant Care Activities.
​Week 2
​Keep soil moist, but watch for mould/algae growth.  Some seeds may begin to germinate.
​Weeks 3 & 4
​The seedlings should become well established and germinate. You may need to use a magnifying glass to see smaller seeds. 

Remove plastic film from the section of seeds that have germinated.  Not all seeds will germinate at the same time.  Keep the non-germinated pots covered with plastic film until the seeds germinate (unless the soil is very wet and needs to dry out a bit).

​Weeks 5 & 6
​As the plants become larger you may notice that several seedlings have germinated within each pot. Ideally, there should not be more than 2 plants per pot. Carefully remove any small or weak plants and discard them. If you have several healthy plants in one pot, then split them up and transplant healthier plants into any empty pots form seeds that did not germinate. It is better to have too many plants in a pot than to damage plants while trying to move them, so be careful when thinning or transplanting from one pot to another.
Continue to move your light source up as the plants grow so that it is about 10 cm away from the tops of the plants. Plants will grow at different rates so use the tallest plants when measuring for proper light height.​​
​Weeks 7 to 8
During this period, the plants will require less attention. Set aside one day a week to tend to the plants.

​If daytime temperatures are warm enough (not more than about 5 °C below indoor temperature), you can begin taking your plants in the bin outside, for a few hours a day (in partial sunlight – do not place them in full sunlight).  This will allow the plants to begin adjusting to outdoor conditions.  DO NOT leave your plants out overnight.​

​Week 11 to 12​
​Continue taking your plants outside as long as outdoor conditions are favourable (not more than 5°C below your indoor temperature). Allow the plants to slowly have more exposure to direct sunlight over the next few weeks.

If overnight temperatures are not going to drop more than 5 °C lower than daytime temperatures, you may leave your plants outside overnight. Be sure they are in a protected area where they will not be stepped on or sustain any damage to stems and leaves. 

The plants are now ready to be transplanted to an outdoor garden!