Today is one of those winter days when the sky is bright blue and everything is frozen solid, and the last thing on your mind is sowing flower seeds. But in fact, it’s the perfect time to get excited about growing, ordering seeds and checking that you’ve got everything ready for early Spring, when the garden suddenly bursts into life and there isn’t enough time in the day.
Growing annual flowers from seed is easy and costs little, and it’s a must if you want lots of flowers in your garden to brighten things up or like to have them for cutting.
Annual flowers are the ones that grow, flower, fade and die all within 12 months. Half-hardy annuals, won’t survive frost or even cold wet winters.
Although half-hardies are sensitive to cold, unlike their cousins the hardy annuals, who are a much tougher lot, they’re easy to grow and they add more variety to the mix, who would want to be without:
and nicotiana [tobacco plants]
Success is easy with these if they’re not sown too early, sown at the right time, the plants will be sturdier and healthier. with better flowers.
I sow mine at the beginning of April here in the south-east of England, if you’re further north you may have to wait a couple of weeks.
- Grow them in an unheated greenhouse, cold-frame or a window sill inside, though this may be too warm and there won’t be enough light so they have to be turned to the light every day to stop them leaning over.
- Fill seed trays with multi-purpose compost, gently tamping it down and water lightly.
- Sow the seed thinly, allowing plenty of room for each plant.
- Cover the seeds with compost, check the seed packet to see how much cover they need, the smaller the seed the less cover, and some like Verbena bonariensis don’t need any soil over them at all.
- Cover the tray with a sheet of newspaper and check daily, remove the newspaper as soon as the seeds appear and put them somewhere cool but bright.
The first set of leaves they grow are just for starters, wait until they have a second set that are fully opened
- Gently tip them out of the tray, this is easier if they’ve been watered first and left for twenty minutes, transfer each strong seedling to it’s own small pot holding the leaves not the plant stem, gently firm it in and water it.
- Keep more than you need, so you have back-up in case of mis-haps and you’ll have extra small plants to share or swap.
- Transfer the seedlings to bigger pots when the roots are just beginning to show at the base, or it’s starting to dry out more frequently.
Plant them in the garden when you’re confident that there’s isn’t any risk of frost.
Read about growing flowers from annual seeds here.
Happy gardening, Jill