The Value of Sowing Seed
April is an important month for sowing seed for winter and spring colour. Get planning and planting now!
Some gardeners prefer to buy their bedding plants as seedlings in punnets at the nursery, rather than sowing flowering annuals themselves. There is nothing wrong with this, but there are cheaper ways to garden. One small packet of flower seed costs between R18 and R24, and depending on the type of seed (big or very small) you can get up to 600 seeds per packet, as with Namaqualand daisies.
Secondly, you will miss out on a wide variety of plants. Many winter- and spring flowering annuals can only be sown directly as they do not tolerate either shelf life in a tray or transplanting all that well. Pretty flower faces like forget-me-nots, Virginia stocks, African daisies, bokbaaivygies, Shirley poppies, candytuft, California poppies, cornflowers, love-in-a-mist, nemesias, linarias and godetias (satin flowers) are examples.
The editor lost her heart to godetias this year, an annual spring bloomer and popular cut flower with satiny single or double flowers in shades of white, pink, purple, lavender and red. These fast growers can start blooming 60 days after sowing seed, which should be done directly as transplanting is not always successful. They germinate well in cool weather and need full sun and compost enriched soil. Keep the plants moist but not wet, and fertilise monthly. Tall varieties (up to 40 – 60cm) will need staking as lots of stems and flowers are produced. Godetias are good reseeders, so plant them where they can drop their seeds and grow undisturbed. They are bee and butterfly friendly. Look out for seed packets of Godetia ‘Azalea Flowered Mix’, which can be sown in spring and autumn. Flowers should appear after 90 – 120 days.
Adding a product like HumiGro when preparing your soil for sowing seed is like adding a highly concentrated form of compost that feeds your plants.
Special purpose novelty seed mixes
Try the following great seed mixes from different seed suppliers:
Colour Patch Winter Dwarf and Colour Patch Winter Tall, which contain varieties suited to South African winter conditions. Different varieties bloom at different times.
Bird and Butterfly Flower Garden is a mix especially chosen to attract birds and butterflies, and can be sown in autumn and again in spring.
Meadow Mix is a mixture of seeds that can be sown in autumn, spring and summer to supply something of interest for many months.
Flower Garden – Edible: All the plants have a variety of culinary uses as well as attractive flowers. It is ideal to sow directly in small gardens in autumn and again in spring.
Flower Garden – Fragrant is a selection of seeds for glorious scents and visual appeal to sow directly in autumn and again in spring. For a few bucks more… You can also invest in bulk seed packets that cover a large area, up to 10m 2 . And again, there are special seed mixes to give you a succession of varieties.
Border and Balcony Mix: Seeds chosen for bedding borders and containers on a balcony to be sown in autumn and spring. Suitable for full sun or semi-shade. Shade Mixture has more than 20 different flower types suitable for shade and semi-shade. Sow directly in autumn and repeat in spring and summer.
Autumn and Winter Mixture contains more than 20 types of flowers for full sun.
TIP: Give your plants the best possible start with added micro-elements. A product like StartGro gives your plants an extra boost at the beginning.
Note that seed packets supplied by seed merchants are changed seasonally to ensure fresh seed on the shelves. Printed and illustrated on the back of the packets is all the information you will need about the right sowing times, depth, sun/shade requirements, planting distance, and whether it must be sown in seed trays or directly in the garden (or if both is possible)