Top Spring Gardening Ideas

It’s really not difficult to sow and grow your own flowers from seed. Simply follow these easy steps...

It’s unbelievably satisfying seeing the first green shoots pop out of the soil, grow vigorously, and then burst into bloom. And, even more gratifying, it won’t cost you a fortune. Trays of ready-grown seedlings come at a price, particularly if you plan to fill an entire bed. In comparison, a packet of seeds costs far less, even when you include the time and patience necessary to produce a magnificent display in your garden.

But first you have to decide where to create your dream flower bed. Will it be in full sun, full shade or a partly shaded area? Don’t hamper your chances of success by sowing seeds in the wrong place, no matter how strong the temptation. And you don’t need a huge garden or vast beds either – any bare patch can be transformed into an eye-catching splash of colour with the right preparations and suitable seeds. Start off with easy-to-grow plants (see our list) that are suitable for your garden.

Follow the instructions

The back of every packet contains all the information you need to successfully sow the seeds, so follow the instructions carefully. Before you start, decide when you’d like to sow the seeds; some can be sown throughout the year, while others are restricted to a specific season. And it’s vital to check whether your seeds can be sown directly into beds, or if you should start them off in seed trays.

Also check on whether they prefer sun, shade or semi-shade, and how deep you should plant them.

Easy-to-sow top 16 flowers

1 Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus)

2 Sweet peas

3 Cosmos

4 Nasturtiums

5 Love-in-a-mist (Nigella)

6 Annual mallow (Lavatera trimestris)

7 Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)

8 Larkspurs (Consolida ambigua)

9 Columbines (Aquilegia)

10 Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi majus)

11 English marigolds (Calendula)

12 Sweet Alyssum

13 Poppies (Papaver)

14 Sunflowers

15 Mourning bride (Scabiosa atropurpurea)

16 Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)


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Directly into beds

Many seeds can be sown directly into flowerbeds, given suitable space, compost and bonemeal.

1 Prepare the soil. Remove any weeds and large pebbles and, if you haven’t composted the bed for a while, do so now – adding a few handfuls of bonemeal at the same time. Dig the soil over well.

2 Level the soil and walk over it lightly to compact it a little – this will release any air bubbles and prevent it from sinking once the seeds have been sown. Then use a rake to lightly loosen the surface level.

3 If you plan to group different flowers in the same bed, you can mark the separate areas with river sand bought from your local nursery. But don’t lay out large blocks too precisely if you want an informal look. You can also buy packets of mixed seeds to sow in a single bed for a colourful look.

4 Mark rows in the beds with a stick. Sowing the seeds in straight lines makes it easier to distinguish between seedlings and weeds once they sprout. Sow the seeds in the rows. Don’t scatter them too densely, but sow more than you think you’ll need to ensure a successful display. You can always thin out the seedlings later.

5 Gently cover the seeds with soil.

6 Water well with a fine sprinkler rosette and keep the soil moist until the seedlings are well established. Thin them out if they sprout too densely.


• Wear surgical gloves.
• If your dogs or cats dig or lie in your flowerbeds, fence off the bed with a small barrier.
• Fine wire will thwart birds and guinea fowl intent on eating the seeds; it can be lifted once the seeds have sprouted.

Seeds into trays

Some seeds fare best sown into trays before being planted out into flowerbeds. In this case, all you need is clean trays, a suitable mixture of seeding soil and your seeds of choice.

1 Make sure your seed tray is clean and fill it to the top with the soil.

2 Press the soil down by hand until it’s about 1cm from the top of the tray, then water well with a fine sprinkler rosette.

3 Draw lines in the soil with your finger or a stick.

4 Carefully sow the seeds in the rows; plant larger seeds such as sunflowers and zinnias individually.

5 Cover the seeds with a fine layer of seeding soil. Water the seeds with a fine sprinkler rosette and stand them in a cool place, keeping the soil moist until the seeds have germinated.

Tip Use vermiculite as seeding soil as it retains moisture and encourages root formation. Be careful not to sow very fine seeds such as poppies and larkspurs too densely.

6 Once your seedlings are about 5cm tall, or have one or two leaves, transplant them into individual seed trays so that each seedling has room to grow. Carefully water the soil before doing this and gently lift the seedlings to prevent damaging the roots. Once the individual seedlings have grown into healthy young plants, it’s time to bed them out. Water regularly and you’ll enjoy a lovely display within two to three months.

Storing seeds

• If you have leftover seeds, carefully close the packet and store it in a cool, dry place. But check the expiry date and sow the remaining seeds before then.
• If your flowers have bloomed and bolted (gone to seed), store any seeds you’ve collecteced in paper bags, not plastic, and keep in a cool dry space.

Tip Don’t buy too many seeds at a time. Instead, start small and sow more once you’ve achieved success. And don’t despair if you aren’t successful the first time around – keep trying.

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