For those that haven't already started their indoor planting, it's not too late for many varieties of plants. Most of what we grow are specifically for our hummingbird garden. Some require three months or more indoors before conditioning them outdoors, but there are some that are fast growers. There are some you can directly plant outdoors, such as nasturtiums, or scarlet runners, and those need to wait until there's no risk of frost. But right now we're right between the earliest starting seeds and those that get planted directly. So what am I referring to? It's those that need just a little bit of a head start, but certainly don't need to be mature when you place them outdoors. Zinnias are one of those flowers that young hummingbirds tend to gravitate toward. I don't like to start them too early because they tend to set back when I move them outdoors. I don't like to start them too late because they'll only start to flower when the young hummingbirds begin showing up in the garden, and at that point I want them to be in full bloom.
One of the biggest problems people have in starting seeds indoors is lack of light. You can spend a ridiculous amount of money on lighting and the whole setup, but it's really not necessary. You can get a couple shop lights with the chains and you can adjust the height of the lighting as needed. Here's my simple setup. It can take you less than an hour to make a setup equipped to grow many plants from seed. I simply build a couple T bars out of 2x4's with a base across the bottom as well. They don't really need to sit that well on their own because once you drill holes for the pipe and pass them through both ends, it stands pretty well. I used a couple copper pipes because that's what I had available, but steel conduit would work just as well. Just drill the holes barely big enough for the pipe to pass through. You can get shop lights for around $20.00 and then bulbs to fit. Some people use plant bulbs, but I simply used standard fluorescents, and they've proven successfully over the last decade. By the images you can see that the plants do extremely well. If they weren't getting enough light, they would be long and leggy. This is oftentimes a problem when people start plants indoors. With low light or shorter daylight, the plants get really long and leggy because they're searching for more light. Try out a simple lighting system like this and you'll notice a huge difference. But whether you spend a little bit of money or a lot of money on a lighting system, it's well worth it. In these images you can see the salvia cuttings that I took from last Fall, and the snap dragons, Million Bells, and Petunias that are all doing extremely well. You can buy ready mixed seeding soil, or create your own out of 75% peat moss and 25% perlite. Make sure you give them some all purpose fertilizer every week are two until you start conditioning them outdoors. Don't over water, but don't let them dry out. There are only a few simple things you need to remember when planting indoors - Light, medium(soil) with the occasional fertilizing, and water. One more important thing - condition them with very little sunlight when you place them outdoors. After a few days increase with a little bit more light. Continue this process for about two weeks to get them gradually used to direct sunlight. Bring them indoors if temperatures dip below 5 Celsius(42F). I believe that once you try and become successful at the indoor planting, it'll become the norm in future years.
P.S. - The foam pads on the end of the pipes are only necessary to prevent head injuries and brain damage.
Much of the year I spend time attracting hummingbirds and other species to my garden. Please take some time to read and enjoy my blog. I hope it inspires you to build and create a beautiful place to attract birds of your own.