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Hello all

I'm new to gardening and have a lot to learn.  I'm inclined to prefer wildflowers and pollinators in a wildlife-friendly garden space.

I want to sow seeds for planting out but don't know what time of year to do it, what compost to use, techniques etc!  I've got lots of seeds bought, and the foxglove camelot rose packet says to start sowing indoors but other sites tell me differently.  I also have verbena, echinacea, stocks to sow. 

I also need advice on what compost is best to use, and should I use a vermiculite, grit, etc..

Any advice or tips for best sowing results or Do's and Don'ts for a novice but enthusiastic gardener would be really welcomed!

Thank you.



  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,091

    Hi Sean. Gardeners generally reckon to sow foxglove seeds when the current foxgloves are in flower.  In nature foxgloves have to flower, make seed, then wait for it to ripen before sowing their own seed. Mine are doing that now so I think you could.

    The others you mention I'd keep til spring

    However there are a lot of plants, especially wild plants, that benefit from autumn  sowing, for some it's essential. what else have you got?

  • Thanks nutcutlet

    Great advice about the foxgloves, thank you.

    I've also got a meadow mix and some teasel seeds - any tips when to sow?  I've got a moderate grass/flower meadow which I've been advised to cut right back - should I sow my wildflower seeds there after the cutting?

    Also, could I ask one more thing please?  I don't have a greenhouse, but I imagine it's OK to keep seedlings etc outside until it gets very cold?  I've read that you shouldn't leave them in direct sunlight.  I've bought some plastic propagator trays with clear lids, and cell trays too.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out!

    Many thanks,


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,091

    If you're talking about native plants for a meadow mix, they're all hardy, you don't need a heated greenhouse. Native plants can be germinated outside, over winter to germinate in the spring. They don't all need the winter chill but if you've got a mix they'll all get the same treatment. Yellow rattle can be sown into grass if you have it separately, sow it after the last mow and don't mow the heads off in spring. Most plants struggle to germinate and develop in grass, I generally sow in pots, grow on a season then plant into grass. It's more reliable. Once they get going some will seed around a bit in grass, dog daisies, musk mallow, knapweed, but seeds are a bit expensive to risk sowing in grass. Seeds and babies dry out too quickly in the sun

    There have been previous discussions on here, I'll see if I can find one

  • This is a great help, thanks nutcutlet!  Yes, the meadow seeds are all native.  I didn't realise I could germinate outside through the winter - I'm learning so much on this site, it's great.  I'll take your advice and sow and grow in pots before transplanting into the grass.  

    Can I treat the teazel seeds the same - are they hardy too, or will they perish over winter?

    I'll visit the thread and pick up some more nuggets of wisdom.

    Again - many thanks!


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,091

    teasels are in flower and will set seed soon, or the goldfinches will eat them. Nature sows most seeds in the summer/autumn. some germinate quickly and grow slowly in mild periods in the winter. some germinate in spring. Some won't germinate until they've had winter. that's the native wildflowers like teasel

    A lot of the non native 'bee plants' are not so hardy. 

    If I was doing something for kids it would probably be something quicker. one of those corn field or annual wildflower mixes so the children can see it through in one season.

    verbena is great but lots of people on the forum were having trouble germinating it this year and echinacea is a perennial that may not flower til the second year. I'd sow them but with something more reliable to back them up.


  • More good advice - thank you nutcutlet for taking time to help a poor novice out!  That link about the wildflowers waas really useful too, picked up lots of tips.

    Thanks for the warning about verbena - it must be a tricky one to get right.  All I can do is try, and if it doesn't work out this year I'll try again next year.

    So, I'll leave the teazel sowing until Springtime along with some non-hardy wildflower mixes. 

    I'm going to sow my foxglove seeds in a propagator in the next few days.  Is seeding compost essential - I have potting-on compost only.  It isn't cheap and I'm on a super-tight budget, so I hope it will work the same. 

    I'm also attempting to take some lavender cuttings from the non-flowering shoots, following Monty Don's step-by-step guide.

    Wish me luck!

  • Oh I just remembered - I sowed some penstemon seeds directly into the soil last week.  Was this wise or foolish of me - will they germinate and survive the winter?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,091

    sean, the right compost might make a difference for somethings but most will grow in what you've got.

    Penstemons aren't the most hardyplants

    I'd sow the teasel

    Good luckimage

  • Oops, sounds like the penstemons might not take which is a shame - I was looking forward to their colourful spires.  Oh well.

    Can I be a pest (or an idiot) and ask - do you mean sow the teasel outside now, or indoors then plant out next spring?  If they are hardy enough and best suited for direct sowing, then I'll do that definitely.

    Many thanks!  Again!

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