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By Bernard

Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom Gb

Help with seedlings.
Bearing in mind my lack of knowledge and experience as a gardener, I need help with the process of raising plants from seed. This photo shows my second attempt having successfully raised some Teasel plants from seed last year. This year I have tried Evening Primrose and Aquilegia which I sowed in John Innes compost last Spring. They germinated very quickly in my little propagator on the window cill (It's actually a plastic tray with a clear perspex cover bought from the garden centre) but since then, neither have made much progress and the Aquilegia in particular are looking a bit weak and feeble. The trouble is I don't know what to expect at this stage and would appreciate GoY members help in understanding this. If anyone would be prepared to take me through the process of raising plants from seed or can point me to a blog that deals with the subject, I would be ever so grateful.




I've never grown evening primrose, but I have raised lots of Aquilegia from seed. If they have been inside since they germinated, they need hardened off now - that is getting them used to outdoor temperatures. Start by setting them out during the day when it is not too cold and build up to leaving them out all the time.
When they have put on some more growth, pot them up into little pots, taking a little clump of seedlings gently out with a pencil and gently putting them into fresh compost. If the are big enough to handle individually, then pot them up singly. Let them grow on outside, somewhere sheltered, keeping them watered but not wet.
All being well, they should be big enough and strong enough by spring to put into the ground.
Aquilegia are not difficult to raise usually,
I'm sure someone will add advice on the Evening Primrose, although the process is much the same for many plants.
Good luck with them. It's fun seeing them grow.

30 Jul, 2011


Hi Bernard, I grew evening primrose from seed this year, sowed seed in march, in a propagator in the greenhouse,
they have been flowering now for about 6 weeks, I notice from the photo that they,re very low down in your container, which is why they,ve gone "leggy" when you sow seed try to leave the compost about 1/4" below the rim of the container, they go leggy because they,re trying to get the light they need which they can,t if they,re low down, to be quite honest, I would start again next year, because I don,t think these will develop enough at this time of year to be planted out, and would probably get killed off by frost, SORRY. derekm

30 Jul, 2011


PS, Bernard - the Aquilegia will die back in winter, as they do in the ground, but they are amazingly resilient and come spring, you should notice signs of re-growth, so don't throw them away thinking they are dead!

30 Jul, 2011


Evening primrose and aquilegia both self sow very readily, so next year I would try sowing some direct into the ground as well as some in seed trays. Evening primrose is actually a weed in my garden!
I'd agree, get these seedlings into a much better light and if you can care for them outside so much the better. You may need to try again next year though, as you've left it rather late for them to mature enough to get through the winter. fingers crossed, you never know your luck.

In general,when seedlings have germinated most need a good light but not scorching sun. When they have a good pair of leaves (not the first leaves that appear but the next pair) lift them very carefully (a plant label or teaspoon handle is useful for this as they have surprisingly long roots even at this stage) and plant them out either into a bigger tray or better into individual cells. When they can go outside depends on the variety and the weather! There is often helpful info on the seed packet.

30 Jul, 2011


Thanks for your comments.

31 Jul, 2011

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