How to grow flowers from seed

Clare Foster explains the trials, tribulations and tremendous satisfaction of growing beautiful blooms from seed

I am obsessed with growing flowers from seed. It all started when photographer Sabina Rüber and I finished our last book — Painterly Plants — and decided we could do with a new project. Growing from seed seemed the cheapest and most satisfying way to grow our flowers, so we set out to grow as many different flowers as we could, with the thought of making a book out of the idea.

We started learning about the trials of sowing by seed — and also the immense satisfaction when things went right. By the end of the season we had persevered and grown armfuls of cosmos and snap dragons and even dahlias that we had managed to coax into flower from tiny seeds. Rather than buying expensive perennials or trays of bedding plants, we had spent a few pounds on packets of seed that produced many plants almost for free.

There is nothing more satisfying than planting a tiny seed in spring and watching it emerge and grow. As you become more experienced you’ll find that it isn’t as daunting as you might have once thought. Sabina and I have found that there is usually no exact science for growing from seed and that trial and error is the best way of learning. Once you have accepted this, you can have a huge amount of fun experimenting.

You can grow flowers from seed by starting them off on a windowsill. Start with something easy like sweet peas. They will germinate swiftly, their green shoots emerging within a week or two of planting, and before you know it, you’ll be picking your first bunch of scented blooms to bring into the kitchen, thinking: “I did that. I grew those from seed.”

The Flower Garden is published by Laurence King, £19.99. Available at amazon.co.uk

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