Seed sowing starts


I have been a seedaholic for some years now though the last couple of years I was diverted by growing vegetable seedlings for the slugs and snails.  However, I am now back to my first love ornamentals and in particular perennials.

This year I placed my first order with the Alpine Garden Society which has one of, if not the best, seed distribution scheme in the world.  My seeds arrived just after Christmas and I spent some time last week researching sowing requirements for various alpines.  I found the Scottish Rock Garden Club website and forum really helpful.

The first batch of seeds were sown last weekend so that they could benefit from the cold weather that is forecast over the coming weeks.  A spell in the cold is often helps break the dormancy of seeds particularly those from alpine conditions. After reading numerous sites I chose to use a 50:50 mix  of John Innes No 3 and grit for my seed mix, this will provide the drainage needed as well as nutrients as many alpine seedlings aren’t germinated in the first year but left to grow on for a year or two.  The following were sown:

Allium karataviense
Androsace villosa
Aster amellus
Albuca humilis
Asyneuma limonifolium
Aethionema armenum
Allium acuminatum
Boykima jamesii
Chiastophyllum oppositifolium
Celmisia semicordata
Corydalis ccheilanthifolia
Delphinium requienii
Gentiana verna
Heloniopsis orientalis
Lewisia brachycalyx
Linaria genistifolia  dalmatica
Primula chungensis
Primula wilsonii anisodora

I also sowed two lots of cyclamen: Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Silver Cloud’ and Cyclamen africanum.  Following advice I soaked these for 24 hours in warm water which a dash of washing up liquid in to help  break the hard seed coating.  They went into the same seed mix

Crocus speciosus and Crocus goulimyi were sown in half filled pots topped up with another half pot of seed mix.  The reason for this is that crocus are sown deep because the bulb forms alongside the seed and this method prevents the seedling/bulb having to waste energy pulling itself down into the pot.  As this  is the advice I have read on several forums (it is also relevant to Narcissus seed which I hope to try next year) I decided it made sense to give it a go.  After all the seeds cost little so it is worthwhile having an experiment.

The final seeds sown were of Meconopsis napaulensis a beautiful pale yellow Meconopsis poppy which I feel in love with some months ago on reading an article. For these I sterilised the compost in the oven, much to the amusement of my son.  Again, doing some research on-line I found a very interesting web-site and decided to follow the advice on it.

So that is the first batch sown.  I have more from the AGS to sow but they  need slightly warmer temperatures so they will wait until March/April.  I am now waiting on my seeds from the Hardy Plant Society to see what I  have been allocated in their distribution scheme.  I have also just ordered some seeds from a seed collector in the USA, more alpine seeds but including a number of aquilegia and delphiniums which I am very fond of.  They should arrive in a couple of weeks.

It seems a lot but when I heard that people request 100s of packets from the AGS scheme I felt a lot better although I have to acknowledge that they are generally nurserymen!

I will do an update on the seeds progress as and when there is some news.

18 Comments on “Seed sowing starts

    • Hi Yvonne – Ha ha it isnt that big a garden but these are alpines so small and there arent that many seeds of each. Plus if I have any spares I can sell them through the club I belong to

  1. What fun! It seems you have choice for seed mediums. I can only find one in the stores here. I baked some earth once. It was not the usual aroma that might come from my oven. :-))

    • Hi djd
      I have taken to mixing seed mediums to get the sort of consistency I want. I went to a study day at one nursery and the owner had a cement mixer for mixing her seed medium but I dont think I am at that stage yet!!

    • Hmm. I think getting the cement mixer out would be just as much work as the shovel and wheelbarrow method.

  2. I’m sure that some of those vegetable seedlings escaped the molluscs and fed you Helen 🙂 You must have been pleased to have sown that lot. What a lot of anticipation and excitement in store. Fascinating to read about the treatment that you have given to the crocus seeds. Will you be covering those pots with horticultural grit? I find the Scottish Rock Garden Club forums most addictive at this time of year – so much snowdrop information posted by some very knowledgeable plantsmen and women. They were also helpful when I first asked a question.

    • Hi Anna
      The pots are covered in horti grit but not very effectively!! The SRGC site is a revelation to me having only discovered in a few months ago

    • Hi Mark n Gaz – but you have your wonderful pond to play with you wouldnt have time for seeds

    • Hi Christina
      Me too, my enthusiasm wanes when I get over run by seedlings though

  3. Helen you are an inspiration with seed sowing. I hope to have more time to experiment and sow more once I retire. For now I will be starting some early flowers that will hopefully be ready for late March around Easter.

    • Hi Donna – I love seeds, in fact I just love the act of sowing seeds even if they dont germinate!

  4. My goodness! I am very impressed – but wonder how your space expands to accommodate them all when you prick them out! Perhaps you have an expandable greenhouse, a bit like a a Tardis?! It certainly does encourage me to sow more seeds, and as I have just joined the RHS I might request seeds from their seed bank immediately and strike while the iron is hot!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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