Biennials plants sown from seed are easy and such great value, and now is a good time to sow them.
Biennials germinate and grow their leaves, often as a low rosette shape, they flower, set seed and die the following year, job done.
Although they’re short-lived, they spread their seeds around, giving you a constant supply of small plants each year.
Sow them in a pot and leave it outside in a sheltered spot or a cold-frame. Thin them as they germinate into small single pots, transplant the seedlings to their permanent positions in spring.
Most grow in moist, but well-drained soil in dappled shade, though Digitalis parviflora and a few others prefer sun.
Sow the seeds into a seed tray full of a pre-watered mix of a third sharp sand, two thirds multi purpose compost. Leave them in the shelter of s cold-frame for a couple of weeks until they germinate, before potting them on into individual pots.
These stately, statuesque plants can grow up to two metres tall, and love sun and well drained soil.
They are prone to a fungal disease called rust, which forms on the lower leaves. Keeping them well watered through the summer helps prevent it. Pull up the plants and burn them after flowering, if it becomes a problem.
A few other favourite plants for sowing now are:
- Teasels /Dipsacus fullonum another tall one, often over two metres tall. The flower-head is made up of tiny blue flowers and the seed-heads attract goldfinches later in the year.
- Honesty/Lunaria annua has pretty, scented flowers and discs of papery seed-heads.
- Grannys bonnets/Aquilegias commonly said to like cool, shady sites, mine flower all over the place, including in sunny parts of the garden. I love their pretty flowers and they’re rampant self-seeders, which I see as a bonus, but snip the spent flowers off to prevent this.
All are great for pollinators and just right for an informal, planting style.
Let’s not forget that growing these from seed is great value and wonderful for sustainability, especially if you collect the seed at the end of the summer.
Take care in these uncertain times and enjoy your garden.
all photos: Jill Anderson