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Good quality compost
Half-hardy annual seeds
A bright, warm place
Half-hardy annuals are quick to flower and provide a burst of colour in summer borders and pot displays. To give them as long a flowering season as possible, sow seed early so that plants have plenty of time to establish before planting out.
Once risk of frost has passed, plant your home-sown plants outside. Many varieties sown indoors by March or April will start to flower as early as June.
Fill a tray with seed compost, then sow a tiny pinch of seeds in each cell. Cover with vermiculite, water and place the tray in a propagator in a warm spot.
Once seeds have sprouted, wait until two pairs of leaves form. Transplant each seedling into a 7cm pot filled with sieved multi-purpose compost.
Water well after transplanting and keep the pots in a warm, bright place. Avoid exposure to bright sunlight, which can scorch the young leaves.
When all risk of frost has passed, move the plants to a cold frame or patio, bringing them in at night. After a week you can plant them outside.