Sowing Spring Cut Flowers
As soon as the last chill of winter has passed, you can start sowing flower seeds in trays. Growing your own cut flowers is a rewarding hobby and kind to your pocket.
What to sow
When buying packets of flower seed, make sure that you pick the tall varieties as many old garden favourites have been hybridised to be dwarf and compact to make them ideal for small gardens and pots. For cutting, you need those tall stems.
You will also need deep seed trays, commercial seedling mix and a liquid growth stimulant like Kelpak, which is a seaweed concentrate and will give your seedlings a good boost before they are planted out into the garden.
The information on the back of the seed packets will advise you about mature plant height and spacing.
Sow these in spring
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus): 95 days to flower
Aster (Callistephus chinensis): 70 days to flower
Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus): 90 days to flower
Statice (Limonium sinuatum): 120 days to flower
Zinnia (Zinnia sp.): 90 – 120 days to flower
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): 70 – 90 days to flower
Godetia (Clarkia amoena): 90 – 120 days to flower
Seed cover (the soil atop seeds) is one of the key elements of germination success. Bury seeds to a maximum of three times their diameter. The tiniest seeds need only be shaken across soil and gently patted into place. To disperse small seeds easily, first mix them with mealie meal or fine river sand. A gentle watering with a fine mist spray will secure them. Be sure to keep the soil constantly moist or the germination process will stop.
To stop the soil from drying out, create a warm and moist hothouse around the sown seed by placing the seed trays in large, clear plastic bags. Blow them up first before knotting the ends to prevent the plastic from touching the soil. You can also use a home propagator to germinate your seeds. Keep the trays in a warm and protected spot in good light and remove any covering over the seed trays when the seeds have germinated successfully.
Over-exuberant sowing of seeds leads to a thick mob of seedlings, and none of them will thrive if they aren’t thinned out. As pulling out seedlings can uproot the survivors, use small scissors to cut off the surplus at soil level. As soon as true leaves have formed, the seedlings can be gently pricked out into pots or seedling trays and given a little more sunlight to harden them off. Water them regularly and feed them every two weeks with Kelpak. In general, flower seedlings should be between 6 – 10cm high before they can be planted out into the garden.