What Does It Mean To Plant Seeds “In Situ”?

Ilona Erwin

Planting seeds in situ literally means “in place” or “on site”. That is, in the ground directly rather than starting elsewhere and then transplanting into the garden.

The characteristics of a plant dictate which method is best. Many plants suffer from transplanting: vegetable roots may become misshapen or a taproot may be damaged. Poppies are flowers that like sowing in situ, and grow best with that method. In situ planting is often the easiest way to grow a large number of plants, with care given to proper spacing.

Transplanting always produces a bit of a shock and a temporary setback for a plant. Avoid setbacks with direct sowing.

Which Plants Prosper with In Situ Seeding?

Plants which do best with this method:

Vegetable Garden Plants

Most cool season crops are direct sown.

  • beans
  • red beets
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • chives,
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • parsley
  • radishes
  • turnips
  • thyme
Flower Garden

Many of these flowers grow best in cooler ( but not frosty) temperatures.

  • calendula
  • chrysanthemum
  • clarkia
  • colocynths
  • coreopsis
  • cosmos
  • cup-and-saucer vines
  • eschscholzia
  • flax
  • tagete marigolds (French)
  • four-oclock
  • gaillardia,
  • gypsophila
  • larkspurs
  • morning glory
  • nasturtiums
  • poppies
  • portulaca
  • rudbeckia
  • sunflowers
  • sweet peas

Remember These Points When Planting In Situ

Season of Planting

Especially remember to plant after recommended frost dates. Many seed packets have helpful climate map and dates for planting.

Read your seed packets for for best timing, and soil conditions.

If yours do not, a handy resource book which lists recommended times for your chosen seeds gives this information.

 Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

Soil Tilth

Well cultivated ground without clumps or lumps is best for seedlings to start. Good loam or amended soils which are raked smooth provided a good seedbed for direct sowing.

Moisture Conditions

Germination rates are governed by soil moisture and temperatures. Generally, soils which are too wet or too cold will not produce successfully; the seeds will rot rather than grow.

Depth of Planting

Seeds may need light to germinate, or they may need enough depth to keep them moist, some even require relative darkness to sprout. Know you plant requirements for best results. (Although, well prepared, well drained soil is marvelously suited for most plants to sprout and grow).

How to Find Your Frost Dates and Hardiness Zone

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.