Tips for Flower Seed Growing

  • Seeds need to be sown thinly, in rows at a distance indicated on the packet. The seeds should be lighted covered with fine soil and watered gently so that they are not disturbed.
  • Never use garden soil when sowing seeds in pots or trays indoors as it will probably contain weed seeds and could also contain pests & diseases. Always use a good quality seed compost.
  • When sowing most seeds in trays or pots indoors, sow thinly and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite. This aids germination and reduces “damping off” (this is when clumps of seedlings that have been sown too thick collapse and die).
  • When sowing fine seeds, mix half seeds to half dried silver sand and lightly sprinkle over the surface of the compost. The sand enables you to see where the seeds have been sown.
  • After sowing hardy seeds in either seed trays or pots for placing outdoors to germinate, cover the surface of compost with a thin layer of fine grit. This will prevent moss and liver wort forming on the surface, which would prevent your seeds from germinating.
  • Keep a close watch on your seeds, never allow compost to dry out. If in a dark location, at first sign of germination remove the tray or pot to full light, but warm and not in full sun.  Once seedlings are large enough to handle (normally when first set of true leaves have developed from the first two seed leaves), they can be gently transplanted to other containers or cell trays for growing on.
  • Sowing seeds outside in curved rows or a number of parallel rows will give a more pleasing natural effect.
  • Check the seed packet to make sure that you sow at the correct depth and position in the garden.
  • Young plants that are thinned out need not be discarded and they could, with care, be replanted elsewhere.
  • After thinning out, water plants well to wash dislodged soil back around the roots of the remaining plants.
  • Do not allow plants to dry out and do not over water. The soil should be kept moist but not wet.
  • To get the best displays, feed flowers when the buds begin to appear with a liquid feed.
  • Cut flowers are best picked when the buds are beginning to show colour.
  • Grow fragrant flowers near to the house, patio or paths where the scent can be appreciated more easily.
  • Once established, most mature perennials can be divided in the autumn or spring.

Companion Planting

Planting certain types of plants together can help to reduce certain pests and thus alleviate the need for chemicals.  For example:-

Planting marigold or tagete plants around your tomatoes can help to prevent white fly in the greenhouse.

Planting cabbage together with the strong flavoured and scented herb Thyme will help to repel the dreaded cabbage white butterflies.

Planting lettuce with the sweet flavoured herb Chervil will help to protect your crop from aphids and slugs.

Planting carrots and spring onions together will help to deter aphids, carrot & onion fly. When sowing carrots, try sowing every three weeks which will ensure a continuous supply of young roots. Always ensure that carrots are well watered during dry spells to avoid splitting.

Growing a Wildlife Garden

Gardens play an important role in the survival of British wildlife and are a vital resource for a huge number of creatures. Sowing native wildflower seeds can create a beautiful garden yet create a perfect habitat for wild insects which in turn will feed other insects, birds and small mammals.  For example, ladybirds and hoverfly larvae are voracious eaters of aphids and ripening seed heads will provide valuable food for wildlife in the autumn.

There is a lot of media attention these days regarding the reduction in the bee and butterfly population and there are many seeds and plants available aimed specifically at attracting wildlife into the garden.

Annual & Perennial Flower Gardens

Seeds need to be sown thinly, in rows at a distance indicated on the packet.  The seeds should be lighted covered with fine soil and watered gently so that they are not disturbed.

The seed packet will also give an indication as to the best location in the garden to where the seeds should be sown to give the best results, for example, some plants will thrive in a sunny position whereas others would perform better in a shady or partial shady part of the garden. Many annual and perennial flower seeds can be sown directly into a well prepared seed bed but the soil should be dug over and raked to a fine consistency.

Once seedlings sown outdoors are strong enough to handle, they will need to be thinned out according to the spacing indicated on the seed packet.  Removing the weaker seedlings which enable the stronger ones to grow on in the space created.  This also improves air circulation around the seedlings, reducing the chance of disease.  Soil should be kept moist (but not wet) and weed free.

Most half-hardy plants need to be sown indoors as they require an early start to give them the long growing season which their warmer native climate would usually provide.  Sow into seed trays or pots of seed compost (seed compost gives seeds and seedlings the best start as it does not contain any strong fertilisers which may scorch the roots).  Seedlings raised indoors should be carefully transplanted to further pots or trays when they are large enough to handle.

Always hold seedlings by a leaf to avoid crushing the stem.  They can then grow on until large enough to plant out but will need to acclimatise to outdoor conditions by placing in a sheltered location for a few hours during the day.  Gradually increase the time spent outside each day over the next two weeks (avoid frosts).