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Tips for beginners when growing from seed

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Growing flowers from seed has been the most rewarding experience. It has taught me skills such as patience, perseverance and what plants need. Sowing seeds and taking care of them rewards us with beautiful flowers and a sense of pride. Your garden and its wildlife will also thank you!

I often get asked for new growers to help them. They don't know where to turn for advice and sometimes feel silly for asking the basic questions. We cannot learn a new skill without asking questions so I hope to answer some of those questions here. There is no such thing as a silly question!

For new gardeners here is a list of the products that I use that may be helpful for you!

  1. Compost/sowing medium I use multi purpose peat free compost for EVERYTHING. Please do not buy compost with peat in it and if you are unsure, look up the environmental impact. I find some brands have fungus gnat larvae in them which is annoying. I often buy cheaper brands from major garden centres or DIY stores which work well. I sieve out the larger pieces of wood and add vermiculite to the mix to aid drainage. There are special seedling composts on the market but most are not peat free so I wont buy them.

  2. Propagator This is basically a tray of modules with a lid. The lid is important as it creates a lovely humid climate for your seedlings to grow. You can sow your seeds into any container such as halved, clean milk cartons and plastic food lids. To create the right atmosphere, place a plastic, see through box over your container to allow light in. It works well! You can even grow seeds in a plastic milk carton by creating a mini greenhouse! The choice is yours but a windowsill propagator works well for beginners and would be my recommendation. Choose the best you can afford as it will last longer.

  3. Seed Trays/pots Your propagator will come with some seed trays/modules for you to sow the seeds into. Once your seedlings germinate and need potting on, they will need new, larger pots or containers to grow in. This helps them be strong enough to withstand being planted in the garden later on. I use any pot I have but they tend to be 9cm pots or larger. They need to be larger than your propagator modules. If you don't want to buy more plastic, there are some more sustainable options available to you.

  4. Seeds There are many brilliant seed companies out there so my only advice for beginners is to buy fresh seeds. They will germinate easily if they are fresh.

  5. Tools I use wooden lolly sticks for plant labels. Labelling your seedlings is important and its very easy to mix them up! I also use a dibber to make a hole in the compost for the seedling to go into and a mini spade.

Do I need a greenhouse?

When I first started growing flowers from seed I didn't have a greenhouse. Its useful for sure but you can easily grow seedlings on a sunny window sill, in a cold frame or a plastic zippy greenhouse. My advice for those of you relying on a sunny windowsill is not to sow seeds until late Spring. All seedlings need light and warmth to germinate and grow healthily. When seedlings are grown indoors where its lovely and warm but a little dark, they tend to grow too quickly and become 'leggy'. Wait until the light levels are better! Most seedlings will germinate quickly indoors as its warm. Once this happens, you can get them outside to slow down their growth. This produces stronger seedlings as they will put their energy into their roots. Just watch out for those late Spring frosts.

I hope these tips were useful.

Join Helier and Sophie on one of their seed sowing courses to learn how to grow beautiful flowers from seed.

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