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Sowing & Growing Update - 14th February 2023




Usually when I put together the monthly Cut Flower Patch Sowing & Growing Update and I compare the latest photographs with the ones from last month, I'm encouraged as I can see the progress my seedlings have made. However in the last month everything has slowed down and many of my plants are hibernating. Thankfully this is not a cause for concern as nearly all plants go dormant in the winter, they're going through a period of rest and given the frosty weather and limited daylight hours, who can blame them.


However now that March is within touching distance we can start to look forward to a period of growth and to nurture our seedlings so they are ready for planting out. There's a number of relatively simple things you can do to help your plants thrive and get them patch ready.


Ventilation

Seedlings are prone to a condition called damping off, it's a fungus that enters young seedlings from the soil. Good air circulation, to reduce humidity, along with not overwatering, is key to avoiding this condition. As long as it's not freezing outside I open my greenhouse doors every day and on mild-ish winter nights (5 degrees celsius+) I leave the doors open all night too.


Watering

The most important requirement is, of course, water and small pots can dry out very quickly. However there's a fine balance as overwatering can cause damping off. I water most days but I try and keep my pots moist rather than damp.


Feeding

After around six weeks the nutrients in the compost may start to runout and the plant is looking unhealthy and starting to yellow. You might want to give them a liquid feed, something that is high in potash, like liquid tomato feed is ideal. Avoid high nitrogen feeds as they promote leggy growth which we want to try and avoid.


Pinching out

Pinching out benefits certain plants that have a tendency to shoot upwards and produce a leggy plant with only one stem. Pinching out encourages bushier growth, numerous stems and plenty of flowers. I have indicated below which plants will benefit from pinching out.


Potting on

If you turn your pots upside down and you can see the roots appearing through the drainage holes, it's time to transplant them into larger pots. Try and find pots that are one size larger, and carefully remove the plant by loosening the root ball so it comes out whole. Put it in the new pot on a base of fresh compost and fill around the sides with fresh compost too.

This is a photo of the cornflower I sowed in August and as you can see it needs to be moved to a larger pot.


Second/successional sowing

As many types of flower seeds can be sown over the next few months, now is a good time to consider if you want to do a second or third sowing of any of the seeds we sowed last year or earlier this year, I've indicated alongside each plant, below, in which of the forthcoming spring month/s they can be sown.


Plot planning

I know that many of our growers have limited space to nurture, pot on and care for their seedlings so I thought it might be helpful to look ahead slightly and think about what we are going to plant out and when.


As a general rule hardy annuals can be planted out in mid-spring as the soil begins to warm up. There's obviously regional variations, planting out can begin earlier in milder areas in the south and west and later in colder northern gardens.


Half-hardy annuals shouldn't be planted out until late spring or early summer, after all danger of frost has passed. I use this online tool to help predict when the last frost date in our area

https://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-united-kingdom-last-frost-date-map.php


With the above in mind I've indicated below which plants are hardy and which are half hardy.


This month I've simplified the information provided for each plant, which I hope, along with photos will be more useful/actionable for our Cut Flower Patch growers.

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 28


Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: I already have some autumn-sown corncockle plants out in my patch which are doing fine. I also have some in the greenhouse which are becoming pot bound so they will be potted on into larger pots. If we get some warm weather in March I will start to harden these off and plant them outside as they are robust hardy annuals.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Direct sow March to May.


Cornflower - Week 28

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes when about 15cm tall


Over the next month: I have some cornflower plants already out in my patch which are doing well. If we get some warm weather in March and the soil warms up, I will start to harden these off outside, and as I initially sowed them in August and they are now robust plants and I will probably plant them out in late March, but will keep an eye on the weather forecast.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Direct sow March to May.


Iceland Poppy - Week 28

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary but I am concerned that mine are looking a little yellowy so I am going to move them into slightly larger pots with some fresh compost and I hope they will benefit from the additional nutrients.


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: I'll pot on into slightly larger pots. I don't think Iceland poppies are quite as hardy as cornflower and corncockle so will leave until late-spring to plant out.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Direct sow March to May.


Nigella - Week 28

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: do not feed


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: Last month my nigella were looking leggy so I moved them into larger pots and they have improved slightly. Other than keeping them watered and well ventilated I won't do anything with them over the next month,


Second sowing/successional sowing: Direct sow March to May.


Larkspur - Week 25

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when around 10cm tall


Over the next month: I've lost a few larkspur to slugs, so over the next month I am going to watch them carefully and check under and around the pots for signs of slugs.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors in Feb to April.


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


Scabiosa - Week 23

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: A couple of these are looking quite substantial so I will probably pot on the larger ones in a week or so.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Mar to May.


Snapdragon (Rocket Mixed)- Week 23


Classification: half-hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when they have four sets of true leaves


Over the next month: Other than keeping my snapdragon watered and well ventilated I won't do anything with them over the next month,


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors in March


Ammi Majus - Week 23



Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: Other than keeping my snapdragon watered and well ventilated I won't do anything with them over the next month,


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb and Mar. Direct sow Mar to June.


Calendula - Week 23


Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes, when they reach around 10cm tall


Over the next month: Like the Iceland poppies, I am a bit worried they look a little limp so will pot them on onto a bed of fresh compost.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Mar to April. Direct sow April to May,


Orlaya - Week 23

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when they have four sets of true leaves


Over the next month: Other than keeping my orlaya watered and well ventilated I won't do anything with them over the next month,


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Mar to May.


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


Sweet Pea, Tango - Week 19

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: sweet peas are hungry plants, I will start to feed mine once they start to flower or sooner if they start to look a little sad.


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when they have four sets of true leaves


Over the next month: I am slightly concerned that these sweet peas are going to outgrow the pot before they can be planted out in mid-March, sweet peas don't like root disturbance so I am hoping I don't need to pot them on. I'll be keeping a close eye on them.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to Apr


Sweet Pea, Mammoth - Week 19

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: yes, with a liquid tomato feed


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when they have four sets of true leaves


Over the next month: As you can see there isn't a 'week 19' photo, this is because all of my Mammoth Sweet Peas have failed, unlike the Tango variety, above, which are thriving. Therefore I have done a second sowing using a deeper, larger pot. I hope your Mammoths have done better than mine!


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to Apr


Achillea - Week 19

Classification: hardy perennial


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: I will probably move these into different pots in the next few weeks, the compost is starting to look a little green and compacted, and I think the plants will benefit from some fresh compost.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to May.


Lavatera - Week 19

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: feed with a liquid tomato feed once a month


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: My lavatera is looking a little limp so am going to try a light feed using diluted tomato feed.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to Mar


Cerinthe - Week 19


Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: feed with a liquid tomato feed once a month


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: I am not going to do much with the cerinthe plants over the next month, it looks like it has been dormant for the last 5 weeks or so and am hoping they're going to respond to warmer weather and more hours of daylight


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to Mar


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


Godetia - Week 15

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes, when around 10cm tall


Over the next month: other than watering and ensuring sufficient air circulation I am going to leave the godetia as is for a few weeks.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Direct sow April to May



Florist's Dill - Week 15


Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: Having thinned out the florist's dill last month it's starting to look a little leggy, I am going to prick out some of the plants into individual 9cm pots and plant the stems quite deeply into the compost.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors all year round. Direct sow March to July.


Wild Carrot - Week 15

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: no


Over the month: Although still quite small, I pricked out the wild carrot around 2 weeks ago, I am relieved it's doing ok because it doesn't like root disturbance. I'll keep it lightly watered over the next month but other than that I will leave them to get established in their 9cm pots


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to Mar



Aquilegia - Week 15


Classification: hardy periennial


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: I have had limited success germinating the aquilegia seeds, I will do another sowing this week. The ones that have germinated will be pricked out once they have their first set of true leaves.



Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to June


Astrantia - Week 15

Classification: hardy perennial


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: no


Over the next month: Like the aquilegia I have had limited success germinating the astrantia seeds, I will do another sowing this week. The ones that have germinated will be pricked out once they have their first set of true leaves.



Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb



The December Seed Box - Corn Marigold, Bergamot, Delphinium, Viola, Snapdragon (Appleblossom)


Corn Marigold - Week 4

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: It's always frustrating when someone tells you a particular flower is easy to sow and then you have little success. A few of my corn marigold seeds have germinated and although it's early days I've got a feeling I'll need to do another sowing


Second sowing/successional sowing: Direct sow March to May





Bergamot - Week 4

Classification: hardy perennial


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: Am waiting for these to get their first set of true leaves and then I'll prick them out.



Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors Feb to Mar




Delphinium

I've just realised I haven't sown my delphinium seeds, they are still in the freezer! The extended spell in the freezer wont do the seeds any harm and we have until the end of April to sow them. Apologies for the oversight.


Delphiniums and larkspur are from the same family and you can use the same technique to sow & grow them.



Viola - Week 4

Classification: hardy perennial


To feed or not to feed: an occasional liquid feed


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: Am waiting for these to get their first set of true leaves and then I'll prick them out.



Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors March to May



Snapdragon (Appleblossom) - Week 4

Classification: half-hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: not necessary


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when they have four sets of true leaves


Over the next month: Another one where I'm waiting for these to get their first set of true leaves and then I'll prick them out.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors in March



The February Seed Box - Zinna, Ageratum, Amaranthus


Zinnia - Week 4

Classification: half-hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: feed with a liquid tomato feed once flowering


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the growing tips when they have four sets of true leaves


Over the next month: These will need pricking out when they get their first set of true leaves but because zinnia don't like root disturbance I'll wait until they look fairly robust.



Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors in Feb to April. Direct sow April to May


Ageratum - Week 4


Classification: half-hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: feed with a liquid tomato feed


Pinch out: yes, pinch out the top 2.5cm when the plant has five true leaves


Over the next month: these aren't looking too chipper at the moment, early days but if they don't perk up I'll be doing another sowing.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors in Feb to April.





Amaranthus - Week 2

Classification: hardy annual


To feed or not to feed: feed with a liquid tomato feed


Pinch out: yes


Over the next month: These seedlings are rust coloured so they are quite hard to see against the brown compost. However they have germinated well and as soon as they get their first set of true leaves, I'll prick them out.


Second sowing/successional sowing: Sow indoors in Feb to April. Direct sow March to May





That covers everything for now. Next up we'll be sowing our March seeds at the beginning of the month. Any questions or feedback, I'd love to hear from you.




hello@thecutflowerpatch.co.uk








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