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Big show of perennials with a small outlay ... sow seeds.

Big show of perennials with a small outlay . . . sow seeds

Flowers that come back year after year: that's the advantage of perennials. English gardeners have long used perennials as garden mainstays, but now Western gardeners are catching up.

Perennials are appearing in our nurseries in greater numbers and variety each year. Still, they cost more than annuals. But some gardeners have discovered a secret weapon in the war against the higher cost--seeds. If you're willing to trade time for money, seeds of perennials will give you plenty of show for a small outlay. Perennials from seed fall into two general classes: the quick sprouters and the slow sprouters.

Quick sprouters need no chilling to break seed dormancy and will sprout within a few days or weeks after sowing. In mildwinter areas, seed sown this month will produce seedlings sturdy enough to winter over and start growth early in the spring. Where winters are cold, plant these in early spring, or indoors in late winter.

Some (arctotis and coreopsis, for instance) grow fast enough to bloom the first year from a spring planting.

These sprout in warm conditions: agapanthus (probably three years to bloom), arctotis, chrysanthemum (seeds are tiny), gaillardia, gerbera (requires protection when young), rudbeckia, Shasta daisy (single- and double-flowered types, dwarf and tall strains are obtainable and easy to grow).

Slow sprouters need a winter's exposure to low temperatures (or an equivalent chilling in a refrigerator at 40| or less) to sprout. Most will need two or three additional years to bloom. Seedlings of complex hybrids (daylily, iris, peony) vary considerably. Most will be inferior to garden hybrids, but many will be attractive. Here are nine to try: alstroemeria, anemone, columbine, hellebore, hemerocallis (daylily), iris, peony, phlox (needs freezing), and primrose.

You'll find a few packets of perennial seeds in most seed racks, but mail-order catalogs provide the greatest choice. Here are five to try: W. Atlee Burpee Co., Warminster, Pa. 18794 (free); Far North Gardens, 16785 Harrison, Livonia, Mich. 48154 ($1.25); Geo. W. Park Seed Co., Greenwood, S.C. 29647 (free); McLaughlin's Seeds, Box 550, Mead, Wash. 99021 ($1); Thompson and Morgan, Box 100, Farmingdale, N.J. 07727 (free).

Photo: Japanese anemone gives fall bloom in part shade. Sow outdoors now to sprout in spring; it's one of many perennials whose seeds need a good chilling to germinate

Photo: Shasta daisies, from seed sown previous October, are ready for cutting in July
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Date:Oct 1, 1984
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