Flower Cultivation Tips
Types of Seed
H - Hardy, HH Half Hardy, T
- Tender, A - Annuals, P - Perennials,
B - Biennials
When to Sow Seeds
The seed packets will indicate the best months to sow specific seeds
and optimum temperature. Packets also indicate whether seeds need any
Stratification of seeds is a process whereby seeds are given a "false
winter" by being kept at low temperature for a period of time, normally
a few weeks. This can be achieved by sowing the seeds into trays/bags
and placing them in the top of a fridge.
Scarification. Some seeds germinate better if
the surface of the seeds is broken. The safest way to do this is to rub
the surface lightly with sandpaper.
Soak the seeds in tepid water for 24 hours
Sow the seeds on top of a good quality seed or general purpose
compost. Seeds should be covered with vermiculite or fine compost to the
depth indicated on the seed packet. Very fine seeds can be mixed with
silver sand to make them easier to handle.
Seeds can be sown in reasonably deep seed trays, for later pricking
out, straight into individual 3 inch pots (2 or 3 per pot - remove the
weakest seedlings later) or into rootrainers. Keep the compost just
moist - don't let the top of the compost dry out too much, as this is a
common cause of germination failure. Cut down on watering by covering
the pot or tray with plastic film. Try to keep the seeds at the
temperature indicated on the packet (although room temperature is
successful for most seeds). Don't leave the seeds in direct sunlight as
the heat generated may kill them. If you like you could also spray the
surface with a dilute copper-based fungicide to prevent the fungal
disease that causes "damping off".
Seeds of some HA and HP can be sown directly outside.
Once they have sprouted, keep the seedlings at a slightly lower
temperature and increase ventilation. Water the seedlings regularly, but
don't let them become waterlogged as this encourages rot. Don't let
seedlings dry out as they rarely recover at this stage.
Potting On Your Seedlings
When the seedlings have produced their first pair of proper leaves
they can be potted on into individual 3 or 4-inch pots. Use good quality
potting compost and mix in some organic slow release fertiliser,
according to the manufacturer's instructions. I use 2 parts peat free
compost, 1 part coir (a peat substitute), plus a little additional
organic fertiliser; to improve drainage you may add perlite or grit.
Pot the plants on again before they become root-bound (you'll see
roots appearing through the holes in the bottom of the small pots).
Stake if necessary, using soft twine to tie in the stems. Seedlings
should be grown in good light. A cool, frost-free, greenhouse is ideal
for most seedlings.
In most cases it is beneficial to prepare the soil in advance by
digging in plenty of organic matter a month before planting. The
priority is to improve the structures of the soil (providing moisture
retention and drainage).
Make sure that plants have been allowed to acclimatise to outdoor
conditions for at least 2-3 weeks before they are moved permanently
outside. During this time gradually increase the amount of wind,
sunshine and cooler temperatures that the plant experiences. HH and T
plants must not be planted out until danger of frost has passed.
After planting ensure that the plants are well
watered until they have established as they are quite vulnerable at this