By Louise Curley
Some hardy perennials will flower in first year if they’re sown early enough. Sowing early allows them to put on sufficient growth during spring and early summer so they can flower by July or August. This can be an affordable way to grow new plants and they can make great cut flowers too. Perennials to sow now include achillea, agastache, Bellis perennis, catanache, gaura, Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) scabious ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’ and Verbena bonariensis
How to sow them
1. Fill seed trays with a seed compost or a 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and Perlite to just below the rim of the tray. Firm down so there are no air pockets.
2. Sow the seeds thinly onto the surface of the compost. Some seeds will need a light covering of compost to exclude light, whereas tiny seeds such as Iceland poppies need light to germinate and are best left uncovered. Check the packet instructions.
3. Water gently using a watering can with a fine rose attachment, or place the trays in a sink with some water in the bottom for about five minutes or so, and allow the moisture to be absorbed from below. You’ll know the compost is moist enough when the surface starts to glisten. Remove the trays from the sink and allow to drain.
4. Cover with propagator lids or pop the trays inside a clear plastic bag. This will help to retain moisture while the seeds germinate. Remove as soon as you see signs of life.
5. Place trays on a warm, bright windowsill or inside a heated propagator.