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Sowing perennials from seed

I’ve been looking for some new plants to start sowing from seed this year, and I’ve never grown perennials from seed as I’ve just stuck to annuals. I’m wondering what perennials other people have successfully sown from seed? Thanks in advance!


  • Centranthus ruber (red valerian) has done well here after starting from seed. Self seeds as well so now have way more than I planted myself.

    Happy gardening!
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    edited January 2022
    I've grown lots and lots of perennials from seed.  They are often more difficult to germinate than annuals, but treatment is the same after they have done so.  The main issue becomes space, as you generally need to pot-up the seedlings and grow them on for a year (or more), repotting as necessary, before planting out in the ground the following spring (and then keeping an eye out for slug damage.)  Some I've grown successfully and immediately spring to mind are (in no particular order): agapanthus, delphinium, japanese acer, hardy geranium, various kinds of campanula, aquilegia, catmint, heuchera, aubretia and lots of things in the daisy family (although most of those don't last long here as garden is north-facing and clay.)
    I would just pick some seeds of perennials you like, then check the germination requirements etc. from the supplier's (and other) website(s) (eg some seeds need to be sown with the pot/tray left outside over winter to break seed dormancy, others germinate over several months, so avoid those for now) then just have a go! :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • thevictorianthevictorian Posts: 1,048
    Digitalis lutea is very easy from seed and we'll loved by bees. It is a perennial but only lasts a few years.
    Veronica is also a great species. V. longifolia is good for the middle of the border and V. spicata for the front. Again bees absolutely adore them.

    Eryngiums and echinops are also good choices.

    I know Bob's advice above is excellent and correct but I have, in my garden with its particular characteristics, had far better results from planting these perennial seedlings in the first year. I lose far more in the greenhouse to slugs.    
  • Thanks everyone for your help and ideas!
  • I grew Agastache from seed last year, really easy and they all flowered too, didn't have to wait for their second year like with some things. Bees love them too 🤗
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,199
    Good advice from @BobTheGardener.  My agastache are still small @Crazybeelady from a sowing early last year - I'm hoping they will grow into more robust plants ready for planting out later this year.   The isoplexis caneriensis I started from seed in the autumn before last went into the garden last spring and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will actually flower this year.  Perennials play the long game!
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955
    How well any seedlings grow on is also determined by your location, climate and conditions. In milder, drier areas, growth start earlier and ground dries out more quickly, which makes it much easier. Plants become bigger and sturdier in a shorter time, and can therefore survive the onslaught of pests and diseases more easily. 

    As @BobTheGardener says, just have a look at a few things you like and check their requirements, but factor in the above, as well as the space you have for growing on.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,405
    I grew Verbascum chaixii 'Album', Dianthus carthusianorum and Lychnis coronaria from seed last year, all of them flowered from an early sowing under supplemental grow lights. The Verbascum was really quite spectacular. Shorter lived perennials tend to be the ones that grow faster from seed.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955
    Yes @Loxley - some plants will germinate and grow far more readily. Once you have Lychnis it's hard to keep it in check   ;)
    Most perennials benefit from dividing every few years to keep them thriving, but the shorter lived ones certainly need replacing by cuttings or seed to prevent losing them completely.  
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,938
    Agree about Agastache, also Verbena bonariensis is easy (imo).
    There's something very satisfying about seeing something return the following year and knowing you've grown it yourself. 
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