Forum home Plants

My first attempt at growing perennials from plugs - HELP


I bought a mix of hardy perennials for the grand sum of 36p - they arrived in a tray and were the tiniest things I've ever seen (can't complain for the price lol), I didn't have any tiny pots so put them in pots (3 to a pot), used some John Innes and they are now sitting on a window sill in the spare bedroom.

this is what I have got:Scabiosa blue jeans
Aquilegia swan mixed
Carnation hardy ever bloom mix
Lavendula Hidcote
verbena bonariensis
Digitalis foxglove dalmatian mixed

So far so good, apart from the verbena which looks very dry and fragile, I am trying to very careful with watering and turning but so far can't find out how often to water, I'm just sticking my finger on the soil and feeling it but really don't know what I'm doing.  I open the window a bit during the day and the radiator is turned off.

I have no idea how long I should wait before re-potting/planting, there were some directions but I think they assume that you know what you're doing lol.

Can anyone give me some advice about watering, do I need to feed? How will I know they need their own pots/when to plant out?

I am about to order a mini lean to greenhouse with ventilation/spraying system because I want to be able to grow some more plants (house tender things in winter) so I really need to get to grips with the basics.

I've just been up and taken some photos, the foxglove isn't looking to happy, nor the verbena, is there a chance I have over watered and rotted the roots?

this is the foxglove








 I also bought 2 astilbe plants from Lidl, it was a dry lump of stuff, am astounded that after a few days of planting how tall it has grown, I am trying not to water this in dribbles but give it a good drink and I have been told they don't like direct sunlight, is it okay on this window sill?  Does it need to go into a bigger pot next or straight into the ground and at what point (how will I know when to do this?)



 I know I'm asking for a lot of advice here but if anyone can tell me ANYTHING it would be great, I would hate to kill these plants just because of my ignorance.

Any advice re watering/position/what to do next would be greatly appreciated.







  • sanjy67sanjy67 Posts: 1,007

    i usually stick a finger down in the pot away from the roots and if it's moist i leave it until it feels dryer.

    the astilbe likes shade, i had one i planted in half sun but it wasn't happy so i moved it last year to a shady corner and is growing nicely, make sure you harden it off (as with all plants/seedlings, which means when it's ready to be planted outside, it needs to get used to the weather temps, so outside during the day back indoors at night for a week or so, then on frost free night start to leave it outside at night for another week, then you can plant your plants.

    i have aquilegia smaller than yours in the garden that have grown from seed and are growing well, so yours probably are bigger enough but harden them off 1st, i'd leave the others untill they are bigger before thinking of putting outside.

    you will know when to repot to the next size up pot when the roots start to come out of the bottom of the pot or when you slide the plant out of it's pot and roots are wrapping round the outside of the compost, think that will be a while away, when you slide them out of the pot, give pot a gentle squeeze and hold plant by a leaf not the stem, as a damaged leaf will grow back a snapped stem probably won't. plants normally like as much light as possible but not on a sunny windowsill, a north facing sill is fine.

    you don't need to feed them, don't over water them image

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Renata, you have them on saucers, so water in the saucer, not into the pot. Let the compost become dry to the touch before watering or until the plants flag a bit. They're very small. The foxgloves are suffering from scorch so keep them out of the sun through the window. You'll know when to pot them on if you look at the underside if the pot and the white roots will be visible through the drainage holes. As for the astilbe keep it out of direct sunlight and again water in the saucer, not from above. Although they are all hardy they're far too small to go outside. You'll need to grow them on for about a month before they'll be large enough to go outside. The astilbe needs about another month as well. Keep them in indirect sunlight if you can and when you repot them next (at least a few weeks), pot into 9cm pots individually. By mid June you should have reasonability sized plants which you can harden off outside before planting into your garden. When you pot the carnations on pinch out the growing point which will give you more flowering stems. Don't hesitate to ask more questions there's plenty of free advice here.

  • BRILLIANT image  thank you SO much Sanjy and Dave, will find another spot for the foxgloves and astilbe.  Will water the saucers instead and stick my fingers into the soil ... I'm glad you both told me about how to harden them up too.  Will have plenty more questions, so glad there are people like you on here xxxx

  • Kevin HKevin H Posts: 1

    They are all strong growers. Dont over water and avoid humidity. You can pot on when roots show at the base of the pot. Ideally they need some sun and would be better outside in a  greenhouse. It may be better to grow them on a sunny side of the house protected by the eaves of the house. When you pot dont push the compost down as watering will do this. Fill a pot and tuck the plants in and water well then only water when the compost dries and that is when its colour lightens and yes use a finger touch to feel if its dery of damp.

  • image I think the foxglove and verbena have had it, they were tiny to begin with but now they have virtually disappeared and I still don't know what I've done wrong, it is odd how all six of each type haven't done well (got 6 tiny pluglets) but the carnation, aquilegia and lavender are still doing okay, have moved the astilbe into the bathroom window sill where it's not as bright and they are coming on nicely.

    I am still finding it incredibly difficult to tell by touching the soil whether it needs watering or not, I don't want to push my finger down now in case I disturb the tiny plants and its so hard to tell how 'dry' dry is  ....

    The lean to greenhouse has arrived although the setting up looks highly complicated (10 pages of instruction) but luckily got a handy next door nieghbour - also got two gardenia 'crown jewels' (about 7" pots) that are also awaiting the greenhouse, any advice on those would be nice .... this is the small greenhouse I've got - picture shows glass at the back but mine doesn't have that as it will be against the house wall.



  • ahhhh just read your comment Kevin about watching for the colour change in the soil, I THINK ive been over watering as the soil always looks dark. I was worried about leaving water in the saucers as I thought this would make the roots rot? could that happen?

  • mushermusher Posts: 389
    Digitalis are biannual .Just greenary this year. flower and pop their clogs next year.

    Aquilega, Let them go to dry seed. Collect the seed in a brown paper bag and store. Or let them pop and self seed.
Sign In or Register to comment.