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This year for the first time I took some cuttings in the autumn (verbena, fuchsia & pinks), and to my great pride I have managed to keep them alive through the whole winter and even multiply them, even though the location isn't ideal - it doesn't have light enough hours in the day, but in the middle of the day it can get blazing sunshine, plus it's on top of a radiator. In the spring I started with seeds (Livingstone daisies, cosmos, foxgloves) and so far everything is going well, and I've now started to plant some of both cuttings and seeds out in the garden.
The thing that is troubling me is that my precious babies are so wimpy compared to what is available in the garden centre, and far behind - absolutely no sign of flowers yet, while the garden centre has had blooms for months already.
Am I doing something wrong (e.g. starting too late), or is this because they have a more controlled environment? Is there a chance that e.g. the fuchsias will do better next year (assuming they survive the winter), or will they always be stunted? Is it worth bothering to grow annuals from seed when you don't have a greenhouse, if it takes so long for them to mature that you don't have long to enjoy the flowers?
I'd be glad to hear your advice and experience!
The reason that your seedlings and cuttings are so poor is indeed the atmosphere. Growers can give their plants ideal conditions, whilst yours have had poor light and been too warm on top of the radiator - that has encouraged them to grow lanky.
Before puting them out in the garden, you should have been putting them outside on warm days and bringing them in at night - that would have helped them to thicken up. You still need to do this before planting them out now, for at least a fortnight.
Once your fuchsias are outside, they will improve considerably, and you should find that they (and most of the seedlings) will give you a good show.
I would start to move them all outside, here the nights are mild are at the moment.
I don't have a greenhouse and grow annuals as well as other things, they do take off when it's warmer so plently of time to enjoy the flowers. If you've grown the foxgloves from seed it's unlikely that they will flower this year as they are biennual so they will flower next year
I have grown a beautiful pink and white Fuchia from a cutting on my windowsill , it is now growing in the garden . Next year i'll do the same and hopefully have a good show , the sun comes in every morning and lasts until 1pm so it's like a greenhouse . I have also grown cuttings from a plum tree and buddleja . For the first time ever i've planted pepper seeds in a pot but not sure of my luck in succeeding so fingers crossed i may get a plant of some shape .
Thanks for your responses. Yes, I did hardening off for a while before planting out, and indeed the first fuchsias I planted are gaining extra leaves so I assume they are happy enough now. I guess I just have to wait and see how long it takes before they may feel like flowering.
Maybe it's time to move the seedling trays outside as well, perhaps that will help. Thanks for the reassurance that they'll get there in the end!