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Sowing & Growing Update - 10th January 2023

The last few months have been a bit of a challenge in Cut Flower Patch land: limited daylight hours; an exceptionally cold spell in December; and now January has arrived, it's wet and windy, None of which are conducive to sowing & growing cut flower seeds. I've also been hindered by some difficult health issues but as the days start to get longer and spring is within touching distance, I feel we've turned a corner and it's time to embrace all things cut flowers.

As I'm lucky enough to have a greenhouse my seedlings have made it through the frosty weather but am aware that some Cut Flower Patch growers' plants might not have survived the cold. Most cut flower seeds have 2 sowing windows each year and so if you have lost some seedlings or you want to do a second sowing of your favourites, I've indicated alongside each entry below when you could do another sowing if you wish. Also if you're a subscriber and have run out of a particular seed please drop me an email ( and if I have any spare seeds I'll pop a packet (FOC) in with your next box.

For those who are new to The Cut Flower Patch, each month I put together this blog to give our growers an idea of my sowing and growing progress (or lack of progress, as sometimes is the case). The information is grouped by the month the seeds were included in our seed boxes. For the purposes of comparison, for each plant I specify the number of weeks since sowing as I am aware that not everyone is sowing their seeds at exactly the same time. The photographs were taken on the day of writing this blog.

The August Seed Box - Corncockle, Cornflower, Iceland Poppy, Nigella, Larkspur

Corncockle - Week 23

Corncockle is a hardy annual and, because my plants had reached a good size (roughly the size of my fist) before the last frost, I planted them outside in my cut flower patch in October. Even though our soil was frozen in December, they've survived. They are looking a little bedraggled today with all the rain but am confident they'll be fine. Definitely hardy by name...

If you want/need to do a second sowing of corncockle you can sow them in March or April in seed trays, as before;

Alternatively corncockle can be direct sown into your patch in March of April if you prefer. Sow sparingly in drills spaced 30cm apart. Keep the ground well watered. Thin seedlings to 30cm spacing.

Corncockle doesn't need to be pinched out.

Cornflower - Week 23

Cornflowers are pretty much a repeat of the corncockle, and again I put some of my plants in my patch in October.

The one notable difference to corncockle is that cornflowers will benefit from being pinched out. Once they reach around 15cm in height pinch out the central growing tip using your thumb and forefinger. This will help the plants to become bushier and produce more flowers.

If you're thinking about doing a second sowing of cornflower you can sow them in March or April as before in seed trays

Or you can sow direct in March of April into prepared, raked soil 3mm deep in drills 30cm apart. Thin to 15cm spacing when large enough to handle.

Iceland Poppy - Week 23

Poppies never cease to amaze me, they are slow to start and when the first set of true leaves appear they look so fragile. However they are hardy and now the plants, at 23 weeks since sowing, look strong and robust.

These will stay in the greenhouse until the risk of frost has passed and I will keep the compost moist.

If you have any seeds left over that you'd like to sow you can do so in March, April or May as before in seed trays

Iceland poppies do not need to be pinched out.

Nigella - Week 23

Oh dear, my nigella is looking very leggy and I only noticed fairly recently. I've now moved them into larger, deeper pots. Hoping they recover as I love nigella. Usually plants go leggy when there is insufficient light, however a friend of mine gave me some nigella seeds (a different variety) and they are in the same spot in the greenhouse and are doing fine.

I will be doing a second sowing in March (can also be sown in April or May), I will sow into modular seed trays as before but you can sow direct 3mm deep in rows which are 30cm apart. Thin seedlings to 25cm spacing when large enough to handle.

It's not necessary to pinch out nigella.

Larkspur - Week 20

Comparing the week 11 photo with the week 19 photo I was confused why my larkspur doesn't appear to have grown in the last 8 weeks, but then I remembered in November I took a risk and planted out my larger larkspur plants. Sadly they didn't survive the frost. Luckily I'd kept back a few and will now be waiting until after the last frost to plant them outside.

As with all the seedlings/plants overwintered in the greenhouse/polytunnel/cold frame, keep them moist but taking care not to over water. Also please ensure, if it's not too cold, to open up greenhouse/polytunnel/cold frame to allow air to circulate.

Larkspur can be sown from January through to April, if you want to do another sowing, but please remember that larkspur seeds need to be kept in the freezer for 2 weeks prior to sowing.

Opinion is divided about whether or not larkspur needs to be pinched out, if in doubt I tend to pinch out because I think it results in bushier, stronger flowers for cutting. Pinch out larkspur when it's around 10cm tall.

The September Seed Box - Scabiosa, Snapdragon, Ammi Majus, Calendula, Orlaya

Scabiosa - Week 18

It's good to see the scabiosa are coining along nicely, it's such a lovely and giving cut flower. You can sow scabiosa indoors from March to May in seed trays as before.

Scabiosa doesn't need to be pinched out.

Snapdragon - Week 18

Another tiny seed that's easy to grow and produces lovely, study plants. Snapdragon can be sown anytime from September through to March, as with the first sowing they need to be sown under cover/indoors and not direct sown outdoors.

Snapdragon will benefit from being pinched out when it has four sets of true leaves. Simply pinch out the central growing tips with your thumb and forefinger, see photos above.

Ammi Majus - Week 18

The ammi majus is looking good, from experience it will grow profusely over the winter so I will probably move them into larger pots if they look like they're becoming root bound in the 9cm pots.

Ammi can also be sown indoors in March or April or direct sown March to June. Sow into raked soil, 1.5mm deep drills, 30cm spacing, rows 30cm apart.

It's not necessary to pinch out ammi majus.

Calendula - Week 18

After a speedy start my calendula has slowed down a bit and are looking a bit limp. I've pinched them out again to see if that perks them up a bit.

Or you can direct sow in April or May, Calendula germinates in the dark, sow thinly 10mm deep in drills spaced 30cm apart into well prepared soil which has been raked to a fine tilth. When large enough to handle thin out to 30cm spacing.

Orlaya - Week 18

Orlaya can be tricky to germinate but I was lucky and mine germinated quickly. They are now looking good and healthy and all quite uniform in size. Orlaya will benefit from being pinched out, which I haven't done yet but it's the next job on the list.

If you didn't have any success with your first sowing of orlaya seeds you can sow indorrs as before in March, April or May.

If germination has not occurred after 6-8 weeks cold stratify. Move to -4°C-+4°C for 6-8 weeks.

The October Seed Box - Sweet Pea Tango, Sweet Pea Mammoth, Achillea, Lavatera, Cerinthe

Sweet Pea, Tango - Week 14

This Tango variety of sweet peas are looking great. As you can see they are starting to grow multiple stems off the central branch, which is what we want and this is achieved by pinching out.

If you want to do a second sowing of sweet peas you can do this anytime indoors, as before, from now until April.

Sweet Pea, Mammoth - Week 14

I'm afraid I can't say the same for the Mammoth variety. At week 5 they were looking quite leggy so I put them into larger pots but now it looks like something has eaten them. There are lots of garden pests, such as aphids, that like sweet peas but I can't spot any of them on the leaves. I'm going to do a second sowing which can be done anytime between January and April.

I hope you're having more success than me with your Mammoths!

Achillea - Week 14

At week 5, I was disappointed with the germination rate of the achillea, however I manged to prick out a few and they are looking ok-ish. Last year I was sent by Cut Flower Patch growers lots and lots of lovely achillea flowers and mine were a bit sad by comparison. Am wondering if achillea is my nemesis, most gardeners have at least one!

I can sow another tray indoors from February through to May, which I think I will do as back up, second time lucky, I hope.

Lavatera - Week 14

During the cold, dark winter my lavatera appears to have gone to sleep. hoping it feels a bit happier now it's warming up a bit and the days are a little longer.

If you want to do a second sowing, February and March are the best months.

Lavatera will benefit from being pinched out when they are around 10cm tall.

Cerinthe - Week 14

Cerinthe is really easy to grow and these are young plants are looking good. You often get two plants from one seed so that's a bonus too. cerinthe will benefit from being pinched out.

February and March are again a good time for a further sowing,

The November Seed Box - Godetia, Florists' Dill, Wild Carrot, Aquilegia, Astrantia

Godetia - Week 10

As you can see I pricked out the godetia into 9cm pots when the seedlings had their first set of true leaves but they were still quite small, however they look fine and I am confident they will grow well.

You can direst sow godetia in April or May if you wish

Florist's Dill - Week 10

Florist's Dill is super easy to sow and grow. As you can see from the photos above I thinned out the seedlings to give space for the stronger ones to grow. Once they are around 15cm tall I'll transplant into larger pots.

Florist's Dill can be sown indoors all year round,

Wild Carrot - Week 10

To break the seed dormancy the wild carrot seeds once sowed in the tray started life in the fridge. They germinated after around 4 weeks and then I moved them into the greenhouse. Within the next week or so I will transplant the stronger seedlings into 9cm pots. If your first sowing was unsuccessful you can have another try anytime from now through to the end of April.

Aquilegia and Astrantia - Week 10

Aquilegia and astrantia are both quite tricky seeds to germinate. Some of my aquilegia have taken but not the astrantia.

They can both be sown again this month but I think once sowed this time I will cover the tray with a clear polythene bag and keep them in the fridge for a few weeks to break the dormancy. Fingers crossed.

That covers everything for this month and I hope you find this update useful. This weekend (14/15 Jan 2023) I am going to sow the seeds from our December box. It's somewhat delayed because of the frosts and limited daylight hours.

Here's looking forward to brighter days ahead and lots of fabulous cut flowers in the spring.



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