Isn’t the thought of picking flowers from your garden (or allotment) a lovely one?
Even the tiniest bunch with lots of foliage in it to bulk it up is so rewarding, you may not need further encouragement, but here it is anyway:
- you can grow a wide range of flowers that you’ll never see in a supermarket
- they make nice gifts
- it costs pennies rather than pounds
- it’s a whole lot better for the environment
The easiest method of growing flowers from seed, is to sow hardy annual seeds directly into the ground, no need for any fancy kit, so it’s ideal for beginner gardeners and children.
Hardy annual seeds include:
- Sunflowers, there’s a whole range from sunny yellow to ruby red.
- Cornflowers, don’t forget the black ones as well as the traditional blue.
- English marigolds/ calendula, I love the burnt orange shades.
- Bupleurum rotundifoleum, wonderful lime-green flowers and leaves that look good with anything
- Nigella/love-in-a-mist, the seed heads are as nice as the flowers.
When to sow:
The middle of April is usually a good time to start here in the south-east of England. You’ll know it’s the right time where you are when you see lots of tiny seedlings sprouting up around the place, they may be weeds, but it’s a good indication that there’s enough light and warmth for hardy annuals to grow.
All you need to do is:
- Choose a sunny place and rake the soil back and forth to break up the lumps, remove any stones.
- Add fertiliser to the soil and rake it in, this is best done a couple of weeks before sowing, organic stuff like chicken manure or blood, fish and bone is best.
- Make a straight, shallow line with a trowel handle or similar, check the seed packet for sowing depth and water it, general the bigger the seed the deeper it needs to be planted.
- Sow just a few seeds, then a few more about 10 days later, and another lot 10 days after that to get a longer growing season.
- Sprinkle the seed as finely as you can, pouring small seeds into your hand first is easiest, then stick a name label in, I put a label at the end of the row too.
- Water the row when the soil looks dry and pale, then once the seedlings have two pairs of leaves, thin them so that there’s a good 4in/10cm space between them.
- Thin them again as they get bigger, check the seed packet, but as a rule most annual plants need to 12in/30cm away from its’ neighbour, even more for larger plants.
Flower production stops when plants make seeds, so keep cutting to get the maximum amount of flowers.
More about growing plants from seed here.