Spring is traditionally the main sowing season for many gardeners. However there are many reasons why autumn is the best time to sow flower seeds.
If you are planning to grow a lot of flowers and you know that spring will be extremely busy for you then you can get a head start now. Besides, autumn sown plants are amazingly vigorous, often larger and taller with nice long stems for cutting. Another bonus is that they’ll flower slightly earlier. So if you are itching to get cutting your home grown flowers then sow them now! There are several groups of plants to choose from.
November is Sweet Pea month. Autumn is a great time to sow Sweet Peas Lathyrus odoratus. There are several reasons to sow sweet peas now including:
1) You’ll have your pick of the varieties of Sweet Pea seeds if you order them now.
2) They will produce an excellent root system ready for planting out.
2) Autumn sown sweet peas produce the most vigorous plants and slightly earlier flowers too.
There are lots of sweet peas to choose from. You can pick individual varieties such as the tasteful, pale and interesting High Scent, Molly Rilstone and Betty Maiden. If you prefer darker and more dramatic flowers then Blue Velvet, Cupani and Beaujolais may be more up your street. If you only have the space to grow one row of Sweet Peas then it’s probably best to choose a mixture such as Just Peachy, Blue Ocean, Cocoa Mix or In the Pink.
If you live in a very mild area of the UK you can carry on sowing some super Hardy Annual Fillers such as Ammi majus, Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ and Dill, Anethum ‘Mariska’ outdoors in November. Many flowers will do well if sown now too. Poppies, Cornflowers, Californian Poppies, Scabious, Marigolds and Clarkia are some of the best. There are some seeds such as Nigella that actually need a cold spell to break their dormancy.
You will need to get your plants going before it becomes too cold for them to grow. The aim is to get your plants to produce good foliage and roots before winter, so It’s best to do this as soon as possible. You’ll always get the strongest plants with the most flowers by sowing in autumn and you’ll save precious time in spring when there are lots of other jobs to do. If you can’t sow them outside now because it’s too cold and wet then you can sow them in an unheated greenhouse or a coldframe.
Autumn is a great time to sow Wild Flowers too. British Wild Flowers are quite hardy and will survive the worst of our winter weather as long as any newly germinated seedlings have protection from the frost. If you live in a cold and frosty part of the UK then I recommend sowing them in plugs indoors. I usually start them off on my kitchen windowsill. Once they are growing, they can cope with much lower temperatures. Move them outside to a sheltered place such as a cold frame, porch or unheated greenhouse.
Some Wild Flowers I recommend are Oxeye Daisies Leucanthemum vulgare and of course the much loved bright red British Field Poppy Papaver rhoeas. As soon as temperatures warm up in spring your wildflowers will start producing more shoots and leaves and can be planted out ready for flowering in early summer
The Meadow Maker, Yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor is very useful too but must be sown where you want it to grow as it needs grass to grow with. For full details see Growing Information in the Wildflowers category in the Shop.
There are some perennial flowers that you can sow in November. They are easy to grow and produce flowers year after year. The beauty of perennials is that they are fast growing, give you lots of flowers for cutting and your garden wildlife will love them too. Perennials produce plenty of food (seeds) and places to hide and overwinter (hollow stems and seed heads) for your garden wildlife.
I recommend the beautiful blue Globe Thistle Echinops ritro and Sea Holly Eryngium alpinum, plus Rose Campion Lychnis coronaria which comes in either tasteful white or bright magenta pink. Don’t forget you can grow Perennial Sweet Peas Lathyrus latifolius from seed too. There’s a more limited range of colours than annual Sweet Peas. They come in white, pale pink and a much deeper pink/red colour. They are also available in individual colours or as a mixed packet of seeds.
A word of caution Please don’t sow Half Hardy Annuals now. (Cosmos, Dahlias, Sunflowers and Zinnias… see Half Hardy Annuals category in the shop for a full list) They are tender plants used to the sunnier climate in places like Mexico and will not survive the cold wet weather here in the UK.
So there’s just a taste of some lovely plants you can sow in autumn. I hope it helped you to decide what you’d like to grow for 2020. Wishing you a very happy and flower filled month. Love Gillian 🙂