Welcome to the latest Sowing & Growing Update from The Cut Flower Patch, sorry it's a bit later than usual but I've had a couple of stays in hospital (one planned and one not) so that's put me a little behind. Am on the mend now and ready to get stuck into all things cut flowers.
It's now been 14 weeks since I sowed my first hardy annuals of the season and as you will see most of the seedlings are doing well and growing at a healthy rate. Please remember to water your seedlings over the winter, be careful not to over water, just keep the compost moist. Also as the weather gets colder you will need to shut your greenhouse, cold frame etc. over night and then open it up again during the day to ensure your plants can benefit from air circulation.
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 14
Corncockle is a hardy annual and therefore can cope with cold temperatures and frost, and because my plants reached a good size (around the size of my fist) I planted them out into my cut flower patch on 10th October. It's probably too late to plant them out now as ideally you need to do this 6 weeks before the date of your first frost.
However, if you haven't planted them out, don't worry you can overwinter them in a cold frame, polytunnel green house etc. If you haven't got a greenhouse, here's some ideas for low cost alternatives.
Corncockle doesn't need to be pinched out.
Cornflower - Week 14
The cornflower is pretty much a repeat of the corncockle, other than the slugs have helped themselves to a fair few and, because cornflower is one of my very favourite cut flowers, I sowed a second tray to be on the safe side.
The seeds germinated within days, had their first set of true leaves at around 3 weeks and were robust enough to plant out into my cut flower patch about 6 weeks before the first frost.
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.
Iceland Poppy - Week 14
My Iceland poppies were a little slower to germinate than the corncockle and cornflower however after around 4 weeks, even they were still very small, I pricked them out and as you can see they are doing fine.
Even though Iceland poppies are hardy annuals the advice is to overwinter them in a greenhouse, cold frame or polytunnel so mine are happily tucked in for the winter.
Iceland poppies do not need to be pinched out.
Nigella - Week 8
The nigella seeds took a couple of weeks to germinate and another 2 weeks to get their first set of true leaves. Again, the seedlings were fairly small when I pricked them out but as you can they're doing fine.
I was planning to plant out some nigella into my patch 6 weeks before the first frost but in the end I was concerned that they weren't quite robust enough so they are going to stay in the greenhouse over winter.
It's not necessary to pinch out nigella.
Larkspur - Week 11
Really pleased with how quick my larkspur germinated, in just 11 weeks I've got lots of healthy looking plants. When they get to around 10cm tall (it looks like this will be any day soon) I'll pinch out the central growing tips.
Again, I'll be overwintering the larkspur in the greenhouse and will be planting them into my patch in early May when the risk of frost has passed. If you haven't got a greenhouse, here's some ideas for low cost alternatives.
The September Seed Box - Scabiosa, Snapdragon, Ammi Majus, Calendula, Orlaya
Scabiosa - Week 10
The scabiosa seeds germinated within a week, I then took off the plastic cover and moved the modular seed tray into the greenhouse so the seedlings could benefit from light and air circulation.
As soon as the first set of true leaves (true leaves are the second set of leaves to grow, the first set being the seed leaves) appeared I pricked them out into 9cm pots.
I had hoped to plant the scabiosa into my cut flower patch before the first frost but as you can see from the photo they weren't large enough so I'll be nurturing those over the winter in the greenhouse too.
Scabiosa doesn't need to be pinched out.
Snapdragon - Week 10
The snapdragon have had a growth spurt, these are looking lovely and strong. This year my snapdragon kept flowering from May through to September so things are looking good for another bumper crop next year.
Snapdragons are half-hardy annuals so can't tolerate cold temperatures and will need to stay in the greenhouse, cold frame or polytunnel until the spring.
Snapdragon will benefit from being pinched out when it has four sets of true leaves.
Ammi Majus - Week 10
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.
It's not necessary to pinch out ammi majus.
Calendula - Week 10
Another one that took me a little by surprise, they germinated quickly and I've already pinched them out. Again these will stay in the greenhouse until the spring.
Orlaya - Week 10
After a slow start my orlaya had a growth spurt and as you can see they've been pricked out and are now growing happily in 9cm pots.
The October Seed Box - Sweet Pea Tango, Sweet Pea Mammoth, Achillea, Lavatera, Cerinthe
Sweet Pea, Tango - Week 5
Wow, these sweet peas germinated and have grown really quickly and after only 5 weeks need to be pinched out. As you can see from the photos above I've pinched them back right down to the bottom set of leaves.
Sweet Pea, Mammoth - Week 5
My mammoth sweet peas are looking a bit leggy, which is probably down to the fact that I didn't get them into the light when they showed the first sign of germination. The plants then start to search for the light and this is what happens, straggly sweet peas. Hopefully they're recoverable, I am going to move them into larger pots and bury them up to the bottom set of leaves. I'll handle them very carefully because sweet peas don't like too much root disturbance.
Achillea - Week 5
Hmmm, this is the only seed I've sown this autumn that has had a disappointing germination rate. The few that have germinated now have two sets of true leaves so I will prick them out into 9cm pots. I'll probably sow another tray as achillea make a great cut flower and I want to make sure I have some plants read to put into my patch in the spring.
Lavatera - Week 5
You may remember that I started off the lavatera in 15cm pots but while I was in hospital a friend came to help out in the garden and potted the lavatera seedings into 9cm pots. I'll leave them where they are now but if yours are in larger pots please leave them where they are and don't decamp them into smaller pots.
Lavatera will benefit from being pinched out when they are around 10cm tall.
Cerinthe - Week 5
It looks like I didn't get the cerinthe off the kitchen windowsill and into the light as soon as they showed the first sign of germination, they're a bit leggy. I'm going to move these into larger pots and bury the stems a bit deeper, hopefully that will allow them to develop good, strong stems.
That's all for now, and until next month happy sowing & growing.