experiments with seeds

I've always wanted to plant seeds and in recent years wanted to figure out how to do it more successfully. Results have been so hit and miss. I need to document and collect data:

1. How long from sowing seeds until flowers are produced?

2. Which compost materials are best for germination?

3. Should the seeds be covered? in opaque or transparent material?

4. Which seedlings are most attractive to slugs?

This year's seeds, 2017, starting with commercial seed packets planted end of January/beginning of February.

Planted scabious Blue Cushion (Mr Fothergills, "enough for 50 plants" packet), 4 seedlings so far (21-3-2017), from an entire tray of pots, not happy so far. If the conditions are ok for some germination, why not for more? makes me question the seed quality.

scabious blue cushion seedlings

as of 6-4-2017 still only 3 seedlings from those scabious, 1 in that pot with 2 seedlings died, I declare those seeds pathetic!

as of 26-4-2017 1 of the 3 seedlings died so I have 2 left, I am not impressed:

scabious blue cushion seedlings

as of 19-6-2017 those 2 plants

scabious blue cushion

Greater Knapweed (Mr Fothergills 100-seed packet), 3 seeds per cell x 10 cells

NO germination, I've set the seed tray aside in case *something* happens

- update - in going through some seed packets I see I previously bought Greater Knapweed seeds from Mr F and no results from that pack either!

Echium Blue Bedder (Mr Fothergills 200-seed packet), 5 seeds per cell x 10 cells, 18 seedlings so far (as of 21-3-2017), pleased with those results

on 21-3-2017 I have good germination of cornflowers and echium, 1 poppy, 1 monkshood (-later- no, that turned out to be a hollyhock that got into the compost), nothing else so far


I've moved the tray outside since the damping-off appeared. I've lost the poppy seedling and a few cornflowers, maybe 1 or 2 vipers bugloss. Still no greater knapweed seedlings.

as of 19-4-2017 about a dozen vipers bugloss (echium Blue Bedder) seedlings left and looking good

vipers bugloss seedlings

vipers bugloss seedlings

the echium Blue Bedder continues to look good

echium blue bedder

close-up of the echium Blue Bedder

close-up of one of those small plants

the echium Blue Bedder flowers have just started opening today (2-6-2017) so that's 11 weeks from seeds to flowers

echium Blue Bedder

Cornflower Blue Ball (Mr Fothergills 250-seed packet) 3-5 seeds per cell x 10 cells, 26 seedlings so far (as of 21-3-2017), pleased with those results

as of 19-4-2017 I've lost some of the cornflower seedlings but still have a dozen or so, I don't know why, 2 have died in this pot

cornflower seedlings

these are my cornflowers, a combination of those I sowed above and those that self-seeded, the self-seeders have definitely done better although maybe they've just had more time, the slugs love them so they are off the ground

cornflower small plants

the cornflowers are just blooming, not sure how many are from self-seeding and how many are from seed sowing, if they are the seed I sowed, that's 12 weeks from seed to flowers, same as last year


Seriously Scarlet poppies (Thompson and Morgan, 100-seed packet) tiny seeds sprinkled in 10 cells, 1 seedling so far (as of 21-3-2017), only got 1 plant last year from an entire packet so similar result, as of 26-4-2017 still only 1 seedling - pathetic result, not impressed

poppy seedling

11-5-2017 (8 weeks after sowing seeds) that one seedling is large enough to be repotted.

seriously scarlet seedling

a month later and I repotted that poppy again and it's looking good (although the lone plant from that seed packet)


Nasturtium Purple Emperor (Johnsons, 25-seed packet) 2 per cell x 6 cells and some outside in egg box, no germination so far, then as of 25-4-2017 about half a dozen small plants:

3 plants in the white trough, 1 each in black pots the shelf below, also a nasturtium in the terracotta pot on the right but not sure if that's a Purple Emperor or a self-seeder from last year

nasturtium seedlings

1 nasturtium in the white pot on the left, 1 large and 1 small seedling in the large pot

nasturtium seedlings

nasturtium Purple Emperor in bloom 31-5-2017 (not looking at all purple!) 11 weeks from seeds to flowers

nasturtium purple emperor

Meadow Cranesbill (Mr Fothergills 20-seed packet) 2 per cell x 10 cells

as of 25-4-2017 maybe 1 seedling? 2 columns on the left of the tray below, 2 completely different seedlings, 1 or which is probably self-seeded, I don't recognise the one at the bottom and haven't seen a cranesbill seedling before so maybe I have 1 germinated seed? the empty cell was a self-seeder I removed

here is that lone cranesbill seedling as of 29-4-2017 (looks like a tiny rush seedling there as well)

cranesbill seedling

a few days later and I have 2 (maybe 3 if that tiny one to the left of the large one) more seedlings

cranesbill seedlings

a week later I suddenly have 4 or 5 new seedlings emerging (7 weeks after sowing)

meadow cranesbill seedlings

this seedling/small plant is ready to be repotted

cranesbill seedling

another couple of seedlings appeared, reasonable results with these

cranesbill seedlings

I've repotted all the cranesbill seedlings, showing them all including that larger one I repotted 10 days ago.

meadow cranesbill seedlings

a couple weeks later the meadow cranesbill are doing well enough I decided to plant them out but as I was doing so, I saw the roots hadn't filled the pots so there was no hurry but I decided to revamp around the apple tree so wanted to plant aquilegia and meadow cranesbill around it, in addition to the lily-of-the-valley which haven't really spread as hoped - too dry I guess

meadow cranesbill

this was the apple tree before having a little clear-out of the green alkanet

in addition to the meadow cranesbill I have planted out some of the aquilegia

Monkshood (Mr Fothergills 50-seed packet) 2 per cell x 20 cells, 1 seedling so far - no that turned out to be a hollyhock that got into that seedtray by accident

NO germination, I've set the seed tray aside in case *something* happens, 4 empty columns in the middle in the tray above -update- 10-5-2017 I see 1 tiny tiny seedling but will see what happens with it

Dierama Blackbird (Mr Fothergills 25-seed packet) 2 per cell x 10 cells

as of 25-4-2017 about 6 seedlings I think, they look like grass but in the right seed tray cells, right 2 columns in tray above

as of 29-4-2017 8-ish dierama seedlings, I'm pleased with that as this is about my 3rd time trying to grow dierama from seed

dierama seedlings

about 2 weeks later and a few more seedlings, every cell but 1 has at least 1 seedling

dierama seedlings

I repotted the dierama. It can be quite difficult to separate seedlings gowing together like this so I've left them together.

dierama seedlings

I'm running out of room on the patio so I moved them to the side of the path. Luckily, they do not seem to be at risk from slugs. I found a slug under the square pot this morning. It would have had a good munch if they'd been of interest. One pot has a self-seeded poppy, I see it quite tiny in the pot above on 23-5-2017, below larger and identifiable 12-6-2017.

dierama seedlings

on 18-3-2017 added 3 trays of Suffolk Herbs Catnep (Catmint) (Nepeta cataria) hardy pernnial

I haven't really followed the catnip seedlings that closely with photos but they just bloomed this week, 15 weeks from seed to flowers. They are secondary to the leaves of interest to the cats. I'll watch out for bees visiting these.

catnip flowers


Disaster strikes! I have damping off. That has to be one of the most disheartening things to happen to the gardener. The seedlings - after germinating and just getting started, whither and die. Inside, in closed damp conditions seems to encourage it. I guess the plastic I put over the seed trays encouraged it, also got some white fungal growth. In recent years I haven't started many seeds indoors because of this but this year I tried again as it's too cold outside for much germination.  My only remedy now is to put the seedlings outside, which I've done (will take pics today and assess the damage). This is an example, my one poppy seedling but it also affected the cornflowers.

damping off

this is what happens to the seedlings, the stems rot

damping-off seedlings

Giant Single Mixed  Hollyhock (Johnsons 50-seed packet) seedlings, every pot has at least 1 seedling, as of 21-3-2017

hollyhock seedlings

I take so many pics I was surprised I didn't have any since the above when it was time to plant the small hollyhock plants in the garden earlier this week (21/22-5-2017). I had 11 small pots above and 11 small plants to plant out - good results - for me - I guess it should have been more from 50 seeds but 11 reasonable plants to me is success.

hollyhocks small plants

hollyhocks small plants

hollyhocks small plants

hollyhocks small plant

hollyhocks small plant

hollyhocks small plant

hollyhocks small plant

7 weeks later and 1 of those hollyhocks is in bloom and 1 has buds, as hollyhocks are biennials I thought they wouldn't flower until next year but at least a couple are blooming this year. (this is numbered 1 or 2 above)


hollyhocks buds

Double Mixed Hollyhock (Johnsons 50-seed packet) seedlings, at least 10 seedlings, not a disaster, as of 21-3-2017

double hollyhock seedlings

weeks later and not so many seedlings and hardly any bigger, as of 23-5-2017 and I did find slugs underneath the pots

double hollyhock seedlings

these have struggled but they got there in the end, 7 weeks later and I think they are ready to plant in the ground

hollyhock seedlings

as soon as I planted them Scarecrow decided to lay on top of them

hollyhock seedlings and cat

the following 3 pics have the seedlings labelled 1 to 8

hollyhock seedlings

hollyhock seedlings

hollyhock seedlings

while I was doing seeds I threw the monarda (Jekka's Herbs Bergamot Wild (Monarda fistulosa) all 180) seeds in some compost, not expecting much as I've tried these at least twice (from different seed company) before with zero germination so was surprised to see these seedlings, I don't know their attractiveness to slugs so will try to keep them off the ground, at least initially

monarda seedlings

I thought they have little future in that shallow saucer so moved them to these pots sitting on the patio so I'll see what the slugs do to them. Just looking at the seed packet again. It says "Protect young plants from slugs". Oh well, this is the best I can do. 12-6-2017

monarda seedlings

- later -

17-6-2017 the slugs have eaten some of those monarda seedlings so I have had to move them elsewhere

monarda seedlings

2-7-2017 the monarda seedlings, off the ground away from the slugs, couple of borage self-seeding in the pots with them


a week later, one leaf on the left is curled up as if a caterpillar is making a pupa in it but I don't know if they do that, I'll see what happens with it

monarda seedlings

About 7 weeks later (August 23rd) the mondarda is larger although not in bloom, I guess they won't bloom until next year, many (most?) perennials don't bloom until the second year. The tall hairy stems on the left amongst them are borage, tall stem on the right is agastache. Of course, they could do with planting in larger pots or better still, in the ground. They were eaten by slugs when smaller, I was worried about them but I guess it's really time to plant them out.


I'm not sure when I planted the Emilia Irish Poet (Emilia javanica Johnsons) seeds but they are blooming now, first small one a couple weeks ago I think. They've been pretty unexciting so haven't noted details. Two plants here, not the greatist pic but will try another.

emilia irish poet

the Emilia (left) are getting into their stride, they're a bit sprawling with some blooms hanging down to the ground, the nasturtiums on the right are two different varieties, one with split flowers, maybe phoenix or fruit salad

emilia and nasturtiums

I got a free packet of radish seeds and planted them a few days ago. I don't have much sun and room for vegetables but as I had the seeds thought I might has well try them at the end of the garden.

radish seedlings

I planted the rest of my collected seed beginning of May 2017, clockwise from top left, cornflower, sea holly, crocosima, honesty, borage. I've only tried the borage before (still waiting for the aquilegia I planted a few weeks ago).

collected seed

June 2017, that was a silly idea! I am overwhelmed with seedlings. I guess I didn't expect them all to do so well. I've had to have a bit of a re-think. Why do I need so many new plants? I don't. I don't even have room for them. I've tried to have a bit of a consolidation and updated each variety below.

honesty, I've never actually collected and planted the seeds before, just had them self-seeding, they suprised me by growing very well, I've planted them all out now even though they are small, assuming they are pretty tough to cope, as they do naturally

honesty seedlings

I love sea holly but the slugs have attacked mine so trying to grow more and the seeds have germinated really well - too well. I have masses of seedlings. These trays are seedlings I replanted into individual cells.

sea holly seedlings

I reused this tray as I had so many seedlings. It still has a seedling, second row, 2nd from left, from the original planting of monkshood seeds, not sure whether it is a monkshood seedling or something else. If by some miracle the monkshood seeds do germinate, I'll see them here along with the sea holly.

sea holly seedlings

here's another tray of the sea holly, I must consider how many sea holly I really need and how many seedlings to try to grow on

sea holly seedlings

1 July 2017 I decided I could do with 20 sea holly plants but I still have more. These are the seedlings before I repotted them. I think that different one on the right is an enchanters nightshade.

sea holly seedlings

I was only able to repot the tray on the right above and the additional pot, the largest ones I put in these pots

sea holly seedlings

the smaller ones were repotted in these pots, 25 pots in total - and the slugs love sea holly - I've given myself some hard work keeping them away from the slugs

sea holly seedlings

it's a miracle I have any crocosima at all as I managed to drop this and had to pick them up best I could but have 7 or 8 seedlings

crocosima seedlings

I had some hollyhock seeds with the others so planted those, some sea holly got mixed in and I see the ubiquitous verbena bonariensis. I don't know what that tall plant is, will pot it up and see.

hollyhock seedlings

generally the hollyhocks are not attacked by slugs so I can leave them on the patio

hollyhock seedlings

Chinese lanterns are the star of my front garden. When I first moved here, before I understood them, I tried buying a packet of seeds to increase their numbers. No germination and I see they don't really self-seed in the garden either - they spread via their roots, so the year I tried to dig up the bluebells which were invasive the chinese lanterns suffered as I'd damaged their roots. Now I know better. I try not to dig in that flower bed and let the chinese lanterns spread - and they have. I was curious though and collected seed from the dried lanterns and tried planting them. I've had great germination. How they grow and how they'll get to the point of flowering, I have no idea but I'll see as they grow.

chinese lantern seedlings

17-6-2017 I put the seedlings from those 3 pots into the cells that are empty so that leaves me with 1 tray of Chinese Lanterns. Do I need those? probably not but I wanted to see if they could be grown from seed so want to see what happens.

Chinese Lantern seedlings

couple weeks later on 2-7-2017, at least a dozen are looking quite good

chinese lantern seedlings

Planted some collected seed of my self-seeded aquilegia 5-4-2017. I hadn't tried that before. They do not like root disturbance so I can't move them around the garden at all so thought sowing in a seed tray might help having more plants where I want them. Nothing visible of them yet in the seed tray but here's Scarecrow in the mess my patio sometimes gets.

cat with seed trays

Here are some (I think) aquilegia which self-seeded in a pot and I replanted them in a seed tray. I'm hoping moving them so young will work as later they definitely do not like disturbance. I say "I think" as I'm not absolutely certain they are aquilegia but will see how they develop.

aquilegia seedlings

I'm thinking the purple-tinged seedlings above are aquilegia? And the one in the middle with the additional leaves definitely looking like aquilegia but I've repotted them and will see how they develop. I've put a couple of the larger ones in this pot.

aquilegia seedlings

some larger more developed ones I put straight into a pot

aquilegia seedlings

3 weeks later and I think they are looking extremely aquilegia-like and intriguingly nothing like the bright green seedlings showing up in clumps in the tray below it where I planted the collected aquilegia seeds, now what could they be? I only used the 2 columns on the right in the bottom tray. A few unknown seedlings have appeared in the first 2 columns on the left.

seed tray

those small seedlings on the right above turned out looking very delphinium-like although I also see a couple of verbena bonariensis tiny seedlings and at least 1 teasel even though I had tried to remove those

delphinium seedlings

I must have mixed up the aquilegia and and delphinium seeds are these have definitely turned out to be delphiniums. Now I just have the challenge of keeping them away from the slugs.

delphinium seedlings

disaster with the slugs getting to those but will see if I could get a few plants from these (the top of the greenhouse is not slug-free!)

delphinium seedlings

back to the aquilegia, the seedlings are looking good

aquilegia seedlings

I planted some of these aquilegia around the apple tree with the meadow cranesbill see above.

I forgot to mention the lesser calamint. I bought a packet of Lesser Calamint seeds (Jekka's Herbs Calamintha nepeta) thinking it was a kind a catnip but after I realised it wasn't I wasn't in a hurry to plant them and then I read something about bees liking the flowers so finally got around to sowing the seeds. The slugs seem to have left them alone. A few borage have self-seeded themselves alongside the seedlings.

lesser calamint seedlings

I re-planted the seedlings in this pot today (1-7-2017). I left the borage with them.

calamint seedlings

two or three weeks later, the calamint have grown and bloomed



Here are my previous years' experiments with seeds, in alphabetical order.


Borage (Jekka's Herbs)

I planted these on 1-4-2016 and I had flowers 18-6-2016, 11 weeks from seeds to flowers. This first pic is from 18-6-2016.


The next day, full view of the borage in the middle of the nasturtium pot.

Ten days later 28-6-2016, lots of flowers on multiple stems.

nasturtiums and borage

I have collected some of the borage seeds but think I need to wait until next Spring to plant them. Seeds in the flower head which readily fall out so I had to be quick to collect them.

borage seeds

empty flower head with the seeds removed

borage seeds

borage seeds

borage seeds


I planted the seeds on 28-1-2017 and got the first germination a week later 4-2-2017. I covered the pots to keep the seeds moist and warmer and uncovering as they germinate.

catnip seedlings

Chicory (Jekka's Herbs)

I planted these 11-5-2016. They are biennial so will bloom next year. These are the remaining 6 plants beginning of August after the slugs ate a number of them in June, 3 in the black plastic pot on the left, 1 in each terracotta pot on the right. They look a bit like dandelions. They do get quite big so 6 will probably be enough plants.


Cornflowers (Mr Fothergill's Cornflower Blue Ball)

I first planted half the packet of the cornflower seeds 4-4-2016. By the end of June I had some flowers but in the past week (as of 8-7-2016) they are making a great display. Seeds to flowers in 12 weeks.


I planted the other half of the packet of seeds on 4-7-2016 and within 48 hours I had germination. I think the extra heat of the recent hot weather really helps. Not sure these will have time to bloom this year but if they don't they should survive the winter and bloom in the spring.

4 days later and quite reasonable number of seedlings

cornflower seedlings

2 days later and the slugs and snails have eaten all trace of those seedlings. I'd include a pic but there's nothing to see, just bare compost. And I thought the slugs and snails were easing slightly! Back to square one. Cornflower seeds are going on the list for 2017.


Foxglove seeds are tiny so difficult to sow thinly. Not thinning seedlings enough is such a newbie mistake I'm embarrassed to even admit to it. I've had such hit and miss success with seeds that I am loathe to discard a seedling which has made it but I had to force myself to do it with these foxglove seedlings. They absolutely had to be thinned if they were ever going to survive and flower. All those in the foreground are going in the compost pile.

I shook out some foxglove seeds from the dried flower stem, they are tiny

foxglove seeds

Lupins (Mr Fothergill's Festival Mixed)

I sowed these seeds 30-3-2016 and this lupin flowered about 18-7-2016. There are a couple more buds on other plants from this sowing in this pot but sadly all the others died or were eaten by slugs. 3 plants out of 30 seeds, sad. Just over 15 weeks from seeds to flowers but perennials often don't flower until the second year so I think that's a good result. My other lupins in flower I sowed last year. One was blue (my preferred colour). I collected seeds from that one and planted them on 23-7-2016.


These are the seed pods from the purple/blue flowers. The seeds need to ripen before they are ready.

lupin seed pods

these seed pods from the pink flowers have opened and dropped their seeds

lupin seed pods

this is my first seedling from the 23-7-2016 sowing of the collected blue lupin seeds on 30-7-2016, very pleased with only a week's wait but this is my only seedling visible, hope more will follow soon

lupin seedling

20-8-2016 a month later. It's been slow-going with those lupin seeds. I have 4 seedlings I put in this pot. After 1 night on the ground and 1 leaf half eaten by a slug I've brought it up onto the table. (update Sept/Oct 2016 the slugs have eaten all the lupins in this pot)

lupin seedlings

Some of these seedlings have only just come up

lupin seedlings

another lupin came up today! I'm up to 8 of these small seedlings. Patience required.

lupin seedlings

a week later and these are the 9 seedlings (pots above planted in the black pots below) I have left in addition to the 4 I think I have left in the grey pot above, I tried to separate some of the double or triple seedlings and ended up breaking 2 so thought - just leave them together! a slug attacked one last night so I'll have to see if it survives

lupin seedlings

6-10-2016 another lupin seed from one of those pots has germinated (very bright green round leaves bottom right) - after 6 weeks

lupin seedlings

10-9-2016 a larger seedling to the left and another surprise new seedling in the middle - and a borage self-seeded to the right

lupin seedlings

6-10-2016 that pot a month later

lupin seedlings

10-9-2016 that lupin in the middle got attacked by slugs and then surprisingly another seed germinated bottom right

a month later and another seedling appeared in the middle (think it's that tiny sprout just coming up in the middle above)

lupin seedlings

a week or so later the pot above with a third seedling sprouting - weeks - no months - after sowing those seeds

lupin seedlings

all the lupin seedlings below, back row has 2 upright borage seedlings and a foxglove in the middle, middle right I think is a prickly sow thistle but leaving it to see how it develops, I hope the lupins seedlings survive the winter, last winter was quite mild, this winter remains to be seen

lupin seedlings


Morning Glory (Mr Fothergill's Grandpa Otts)

I guess I was a little late planting these (impulse purchase on sale at Ocado) and didn't get them sown until 9-5-2016 (soaked the prev 24 hours). First bloom 24-7-2016. 11 weeks from seed to flower.

morning glory

I also previously planted Mr Fothergill's Morning Glory Choice Mixed a month earlier 11-4-2016. No flowers from those yet but I need to look at the plants more carefully to see if there are any buds. I had to move them away from the slugs to the top of the shelves where they started climbing on the honeysuckle so I can't lift the pots down and I can't easily stand on steps as a pot is in the way but I will try to get up there soon.

3-8-2016 still just getting the Grandpa Otts Morning Glory flowers

morning glory  grandpa otts

Granpa Otts in full flower end of August

morning glory grandpa otts

Nasturtiums (Franchi Chelsea Fringe seeds)

I sowed nasturtiums twice this year. The first sowing I forgot to note the date (think May?), the second sowing was on 2-6-2016. These flowered on 18-7-2016 but I think they must be from the first sowing. Going by 1-5-2016 that's about 12 weeks to flower but I could be out on the date by a month. I did feed them as the lupins (currently in bud/flower, not sure which lupins, pic to follow) were in the same pot.

nasturitum flowers

Nasturtium seedlings from a previous year's packet of seeds (Thompson and Morgan Phoenix??)

I haven't grown nasturtiums from seed before so don't know if this is usual but they are two slightly different colours.

nasturtium seedlings

Nepeta (cat nip) collected seed

I love nepeta as do my cats. I have a number of pots of it and recently collected seed from the spent flowers (just swept up the dried flowers that had fallen) and planted it in these 4 pots on 14-7-2016. 2 tiny tiny seedlings 5 days later - very pleased with some germination

nepeta seedlings

10 days later more seedlings

nepeta seedlings

a few days later still and they are growing well

nepeta seedlings

Pansy Black Star


I prepared some of those pre-formed pots (on sale now in the supermarket) with a mixture I like of compost, perlite and vermiculite. There are 75 seeds in the packet so with 25 small pots I can sow 3 seeds in each. Always label the seeds, in this case the seed packet comes with a little plastic label to use. I also write on the packet the date I planted them.

the seeds are small but not tiny so I am able to put 3 in each pot

after planting the seeds I covered them with this plastic cover

and put the tray in the greenhouse, not sure if it will get too hot in there, some seed trays I have in there are uncovered, not sure how that will affect germination, enclosed heat and moisture vs air circulation

3 weeks later, 16 tiny tiny seedlings, out of 75 seeds in the packet. Hopefully more seedlings will appear.

Viola Black Star

Polyanthus (Mr Fothergill's)

According to the seed packet, this is what the polyanthus seedlings look like, at first I wasn't sure as it took so long for seedlings to appear, planted the seeds 15-5-2016, these first 2 pics 2 months later 19-7-2016. - update- following year I have further intermittent germination (from another packet of seeds?)

a week later the polyanthus seedlings are looking good if very few in number, I see 1 in the black plastic pot above the 2 terracotta pots - not sure how? I had the chicory planted in the pot before I potted up the stray seedlings

polyanthus seedlings

30-7-2016 I potted up the seedlings, 1 to a pot, I have 6 polyanthus seedlings, out of a packet of 100 seeds

polyanthus seedlings

almost a month later and they are looking good, aside from the one top left, it's failing to thrive - no idea why

polyanthus seedlings

2 months later (October 2016) and they are looking quite good, although no sign of the one top left above (but I'm going to double-check it)

polyanthus small plants

March 2017 and the polyanthus are in bloom


I potted 3 of the polyanthus up with a foxglove for a neighbour to bring a little spring cheer; it's in a washing up bowl so it won't dry out too quickly. I like sharing plants with neighbours but carrying watering cans of water to them is tiring.


I had these seedlings and noticed how similar they were but didn't know what they were.

close-up of some of them

I didn't even realize this one was similar until I was at my computer looking at the pics when I thought, hmm is this the same?

a month later and after repotting and comparing with verbascum on the top left, I think these may well be polyanthus, which I did plant seeds for but hadn't had much germination (got 5 plants out of the packet of 100 seeds) but looks like there's been intermittent germination over the last year and one of the plants in the black plastic pots above died in the last 2 weeks

polyanthus seedlings compared verbascum


Pink Fizz (papaver laciniatum pink bicolor from Thomson and Morgan)

I planted half the seeds on 29-3-2016 and had the first flower on 7-7-2016 (the seed capsule at the back after the petals fell off). The flowers are very short-lived, these followed shortly after. Seeds to flowers in 14 weeks.

pink fizz poppies

I planted the other half of the packet of seeds on 4-7-2016, perhaps a bit late for flowers this year. A week later I have about 5 tiny tiny seedlings.

poppy seedlings

Poppy Oriental Royal Wedding, hardly any seedlings but it's only been 3 weeks and the packet says seedlings in 14-28 days so I'll leave them for the moment -update- a year later, nothing at all came of these

poppy royal wedding

Seriously Scarlet (Thompson and Morgan, Papaver somniferum)

my one lone flower from a packet of 100 seeds

seriously scarlet poppy

the flower looks nothing like the seed packet, more like one of the peony flowered ones but I didn't buy any of those so it would be a mix-up at T+M

seriously scarlet poppy

Thompson and Morgan Scabiosa House's Novelty Mix


I did try these earlier in the year but got so few seedlings I got a replacement packet of seeds. As they are hardy perennials it should be fine to plant them now for next year or maybe late in the season flowers for this year? That is one of the questions I hope to answer. I prepared with the same compost/perlite/vermiculite mixture 17 slightly larger preformed pots and put 2 seeds in each, 35 seeds in the packet so a few pots got 3 seeds.

I covered them with cling film, again not sure what difference that will make but will see.

I'm not sure the covering did these any good. I only have a couple of germinated seeds.

3 weeks later and I have 4 seedlings. I also have some of which the birds bit the leaves. Some might recover from that. All the eaten ones are in the pots below on the right.

scabiosa Houses Novelty

Snapdragons Chelsea Fringe Franchi seeds

1-7-2016 seeds sown, 13-8-2016 first flowers, 6 weeks from seed to flower

I was a bit late planting the snapdragon seeds so quickly threw them onto compost in a seed tray. This is an example of what NOT to do. They should have been sown much more thinly and then thinned out. Anyway how to rescue them now. I tried to pot up the seedlings as thinly as possible but they still need thinning out. There's an empty space on the right as I didn't think to take a pic until I had already started to pot them up.

snapdragon seedlings

I'm afraid they've ended up as a bit of a dog's dinner.

I was able to make 3 trays of small pots

snapdragon seedlings

and 3 large pots, I don't know if it's too late for them to bloom this year, we'll see


3 weeks later and the snapdragons are growing very well

snapdragon small plants

the snapdragons have buds so will be in flower soon

snapdragon buds

first snapdragon flower in bloom


Sprouting Broccoli Chelsea Fringe Franchi seeds


Better results with seeds is and always has been a major goal for me with gardening. Some have worked brilliantly and I have the resulting plants blooming in my garden, others have sunk into oblivion. I planted some sprouting broccoli seeds yesterday in different media to evaluate which is the best.

seeds sown in: on the left vermiculite, middle all-purpose compost, right perlite, all 3 say on the packages that they can be used on their own for sowing seeds

all 3 mixed together which I guess is the usual way to use them

10 days later, all media worked well for germination (but perhaps vermiculite was best and perlite worst), I think the compost worked better once they were growing to provide a firm base for the roots

sprouting broccoli seedlings

sprouting broccoli seedlings

Viola Floral Powers

May 2011

I cannot get over these Viola Floral Powers. Although germination was only 50% they are blooming in only 7 to 8 weeks, really incredible.


some of my less successful results with seeds

beginning of July 2016

I had 2 seed trays left of, in theory, dierama, monarda, monkshood, polyanthus, etc., mostly unidentifiable so far, except for the deadnettle top right. Of course, I forgot to photograph the first tray before I started. I also found a slug hiding underneath the egg cartons.

I do know those large ones in the middle are chichory, just needed somewhere to put them away from the slugs.

there is some overlap in these pics, the red-rimmed plant below left is the one top right above

most are tiny, 1 - 2 cm

when I see that they are surviving and growing I will take more detailed pics

a prickly sow thistle, not something I planted! which I have discarded

prickly sow thistle

forget-me-not, also not something I planted, I have them all over the garden and they self-seed a lot and the slugs don't eat them, I'll put this in the ground


buddleja which I discarded

2 weeks later, the penny has finally dropped, verbena bonariensis!

verbena bonariensis

green alkanet?

willow which I discarded

tall on the right sprouting broccoli or oilseed rape, looks like some brassica

nasturtium on the upper left, deadnettle on the upper right, verbascum seedling in the middle?


I also had some Irish wildflower seeds

some of the wildflower seedlings were eaten by the slugs, slime trails still visible



As I reorganize some of my content, not sure where some bits should go, if anywhere. This bit about tomato plants is in that category.

I was repotting my young tomato plants when I noticed how easy these were to lift out as the roots have filled the cell in the seed tray. They are a good size to repot. The ones below were really too small. The roots did not fill the cell and were more difficult to lift out without falling apart and falling over.

young tomato plants

Cat Grass

Getting seeds to germinate and start growing can be challenging, even with something simple like cat grass. I bought a packet of seeds a few weeks ago. I put some in the existing pots of cat grass, which were all dead. After a few days - nothing. Then I remembered the advice of covering the seeds, in this case, just cling-film and about 3 days later I had sprouting seeds. The pot on the left I had bought with cat grass but it all seemed to be dead. All those plants are the recent seeds I planted - why so many and so large compared to the middle pot? I'm guessing the pot still had some fertilizer from their initial planting. The middle one is just my home compost and the one on the right I planted a couple weeks after the first two.

cat grass