Garden plants of the moment: delphiniums, lobelia and snaps

Garden plants of the moment: delphiniums, lobelia and snaps

In the middle of winter, it’s hard to imagine flowers blooming, but if you sow annuals indoors now, you’ll have more than enough to fill your borders with colour in summer. For easy annuals to grow from seed this winter, you can’t go far wrong these three:

Delphiniums: tall spires of blue, white or pink flowers. A cottage garden classic, loved by bees.

Antirrhinums: better known as snapdragons, they come in a fabulous range of colours, and flower for months. 

Lobelia: a gorgeous bedding plant with masses of tiny flowers in rich colours.

 

Growing delphiniums from seed

Sow delphinium seeds under cover from late January to March, about 3mm deep in trays filled with seed compost. Stand the seed trays in a dish of water until the compost is damp, or use a hand spray to water. Delphinium seeds need darkness to germinate, so cover the trays with kitchen foil to keep in moisture and block out light. They also don’t want to be too warm – a temperature between 15-20°C (59-68°F) is ideal. Check them regularly, and once the first few seedlings have appeared, remove the foil. 

When the seedlings are large enough to handle – typically when they have two sets of true leaves – pot them on into separate small pots. In May, harden them off for about two weeks before planting by leaving the pots outside during the day and bringing them back in at night.

Plant your delphiniums in a sunny position in well-drained soil enriched with compost, adding a handful of slow-release fertiliser like fish, blood and bone to the soil when planting. Stake to keep them from blowing over, and cut back after flowering to encourage a second flush.

 

Growing Antirrhinums from seed

Antirrhinums can also be sown from late January. They need light to germinate, so scatter the seed on the surface of a tray filled with moist seed compost, cover with a clear plastic bag and place the tray on a sunny windowsill. Seeds should germinate within 10-20 days. When they’re big enough, pot on as for delphiniums. Harden off and plant out in May.

Antirrhinums prefer a sunny position and a well-drained soil. Keep picking the flowers to encourage more to appear. 

 

Growing lobelia from seed

Lobelia erinus, the annual lobelia, is a fabulous bedding plant. Producing masses of deep blue or rich pink flowers, it looks equally good trailing over the edge of a pot or in neat mounds along path edges. Sow lobelia in seed trays indoors from January to April, pressing the seeds lightly into the surface of the compost. Water and leave somewhere bright and cool (between 15-20°C/59-68°F). Seeds should germinate in 1-2 weeks. Once they’re large enough, thin them out to 2.5cm (1in) apart and leave them to grow on. Harden off and plant out in May in moist, well-drained soil in a sunny spot.

For seeds, seed trays and all your gardening needs, come and visit our centre. We’re always happy to help!

You might also be interested in:

Home trends: hanging plants & lights

With our ideas to combine hanging plants and lights, you will be armed with plenty of ways to mix clever lighting with some of the best houseplants you can find. The two together work so well, both highlighting the plant and also the rooms in your house. Not only that but you can make a real statement, be creative or keep it on the down-low for something a little more subtle. Either way, there are many options and here are a few for you to try.

Read more...
How to care for a Christmas cactus

In the middle of winter, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) bursts into flower, a splash of vibrant colour to reassure us that spring will come again. This exotic but easy-to-grow houseplant is the perfect way to add a touch of the tropics to your home.

Read more...
8 x hardy plants for winter

Beat the cold weather with our top 8 hardy plants for winter and continue to have colour and interest with evergreen foliage and flowers in your garden all year.

Read more...
Taking care of your vegetable garden in winter

When the autumn harvest is over, it can feel as though vegetable gardening is over for the year, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With time to spare, now’s your chance to plan ahead for a bumper crop. 

Read more...