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Self-seeding plants

Free and easy

Favouring a more laid-back approach to gardening, I love plants that self-seed with abandon. Here are a few of my favourites...

Find out how to collect allium seeds

Self-seeders are the opportunists of the plant world. They may be uninvited guests to the garden party, but often they make the difference between a monotonous gathering and an unforgettable carnival.


Nature's surprise

All but the tidiest of gardeners experience the joy of finding new plants that have sown themselves. And although we may intervene, there's no need to initiate. No soil preparation is involved, no cultivation necessary.

Self-seeders are pragmatists. Produce enough seed, chuck it about and some plants are bound to come up. Stepping in to cull or move seedlings when there are too many competing for the same resources may be necessary, but apart from that, all we need to do is wait and see.

Carol's favourite self-seeders

Alchemilla mollis

Perennial lady's mantle has furry, round leaves and produces lime-green flowers. It grows to around 45cm high.

Aquilegia vulgaris

This woodland dweller, also known as granny's bonnets, likes to grow in a shady spot. It can grow to about 90cm high.

Eryngium giganteum

Also known as Miss Willmott's ghost, this herbaceous perennial likes to bask in full sun. It reaches 1.5m high.

Meconopsis cambrica

Happy in woodland conditions, the yellow- or orange-flowered Welsh poppies are annuals that don't mind shade, making them perfect to weave under trees and taller shrubs.

Geranium pratense

A cottage garden favourite, the meadow cranesbill is a perennial that flowers in June and grows well in an open spot. Taller stems can grow to 90cm high.

Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots will pop up everywhere to create a frothy blue cloud, but are easy to pull out if you have too many.

Stipa tenuissima

Leave Stipa tenuissima to its own devices for abundant feathery panicles in summer.

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena sprinkles seed liberally in autumn, and produces airy stems from midsummer that won't crowd or smother other plants.



Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Self-seeding plants
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tarttartan 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I have most of these plants but find that they dont self seed very easily in my shady acid soil garden. My friend who has a sunny garden with wonderful crumbly soil is always pulling out seedlings which threaten to over-run her garden. I suppose its the old story - if you have curly hair you want it straight...

kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I love all the above plants and would welcome them to self seed, they don't very often in my garden unless they are a weed.

daisybelle 24/11/2011 at 15:27

i have most of the plants but the grass i don't have i will get it next garden centre visit my verbena disappeared so it obviously didn't self seed for me! will try it again and hope for better luck next time.

i think the new gardeners world is great have always been a fan of toby so welcome his humour and carols enthusiasm is catching love it all and wish monty well too

fflwrpwr 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I found this feature useful because in these credit crunch years its difficult to keep buying plants. I dont mind if plants start taking over as i can always dig them up and share them with nieghbours and friends.

georgiesunflowe 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Some self seeders become a pest in my garden, but one can learn to live with them. Even when you think every forget me not is out, one will always escape.

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