Sowing Flowers

Sowing Flowers

Written by: Andrew Oldham

They often say gardeners are split into two camps: the vegetable grumblers and the floral mafia. Over the years I have discovered that you can’t have one without the other. Flowers play an important role in the vegetable patch or allotment, they bring in pollinators, predators and create scent that will repel pests.

Flower Seeds

Flower power is all the rage in the modern vegetable plot, creating spaces that are colourful as well as productive.

Sowing flowers is easy and can be done from late-April in open ground (more about direct sowing) and earlier in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Flowers to grow are cosmos, calendula (repels pests), zinnia, cleome and sunflowers; great for the kids, big and small.

Flower Seeds Blooming

You don’t need an expensive kit to go floral, I use old yoghurt pots and mushroom trays with a few holes punched in the bottom, for drainage. Add compost and sprinkle the seed thinly on top. The rule of thumb in any sowing is that the seed should be at a depth of two and half times it’s size. The bigger the seed, like sunflower, the deeper it should be but something like cosmos need only the thinnest layers of compost to cover it. Most small flower seed will just germinate on top of the soil, such as, foxgloves.


Flowers are split into several camps, annual (these are flowers that grow and die in the same year, such as, cosmos), biannual (flowers that put on green growth in the first year and flower in the second and then die, such as, foxgloves) and perennial (flowers that come back year after year, getting bigger, such as, lupins).

After you have sowed your flower seed you need to put it somewhere warm and light, like a windowsill or a greenhouse.

You will first see seed leaves, often green and round. Wait for the seedlings to put out true leaves. True leaves look like the final plant foliage, so keep the seed packet for reference. It is at this point that you prick out. Pricking out means the moving of one plant into a new pot or module to allow more space to grow before finally planting them out after the last frosts. To do this, hold one of the true leaves, never hold the stem as you will kill the plant. With a dibber, this can be a pencil, a chopstick, a plant label, gently loosen the compost around the base of the seedling. Pull the seedling gently as you do this, teasing it away from the compost. You will have a tiny plant with its roots on show. You can’t leave it like this or it will quickly dry out. In a new pot full of fresh compost use the dibber to make a hole and gently ease the roots into the hole with the dibber, gently firm the compost down. Then label and water. In a few weeks you will have strong plants to plant out.

Garden in bloom

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