Eight perennials you can grow from seed

Eight perennials to grow from seed

We reveal our pick of eight of the best perennials to grow from seed.

Sowing your own perennials from seed gives you a huge-variety of long-lasting plants for just pennies.

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For the first few years, perennial plants should be kept in pots but never neglected – potting on is vital to ensure they’re never pot bound. While the plants are young, and the weather is cold, they’ll need protection to prevent their roots freezing. A garden cold frame is ideal.

When plants are growing strongly, and the weather is mild, it may be worth planting them out into a nursery bed. This can be just a strip of soil in the vegetable garden or a piece of border where they can grow on without too much competition. They’ll bulk up well and may even grow enough to divide after a year.

More seed sowing advice:

Find out more about these eight perennials to grow from seed.


Aquilegia

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Long Spurred'
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Long Spurred’

Aquilegias self-sow but if you want special hybrids buy seeds. Sow on the surface of good seed compost. Prick out seedlings when they’ve made several true leaves.

Flowers: May-June.

Height x spread: 1m x 45cm.


Astrantia

Astrantia maxima
Astrantia maxima

Buy seeds, or collect from your best astrantia plants, they won’t all come true but you may get some with their parents’ traits. Surface sow under glass, cover with grit. If no germination occurs after two months, put outside in an exposed spot.

Flowers: June-August.

H x S: 90cm x 30cm.


Pulsatilla

Pulsatilla vulgare seedheads
Pulsatilla vulgare seedheads

Both pulsatilla and clematis seeds have fluffy seedheads and are distributed by the wind. Push each seed into compost with its ‘tail’ in the air.

Flowers: April-May.

H x S: 20cm x 20cm.


Geranium psilostemon

Geranium psilostemon flower
Geranium psilostemon flower

Geranium psilostemon is best grown from your own saved seed. Each seed is large, so sow individually into modules. Should germinate fairly rapidly. Pot on as plants bigger.

Flowers: June-August.

H x S: 1.2m x 1.2m.


Eryngium bourgatii

Eryngium flowerheads
Eryngium flowerheads

Sow eryngium seeds thinly on the surface of the compost. Seed usually germinates quickly but may need a period of cold to spur it on. Prick out and pot on promptly and may you get a few flowers in the first year.

Flowers: July-August.

H x S: 45cm x 30cm.


Lavender

Lavender in bloom
Lavender in bloom

Add grit to seed compost before sowing lavender seeds. Surface sow and cover with a centimetre of grit. After initial watering, don’t water again until the compost is dry. Prick out into gritty compost.

Flowers: July-September.

H x S: 1m x 1m.


Helleborus hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus
Helleborus x hybridus

Collect your own hellebore seeds, as they soon lose viability. Sow individually into module trays, spacing out regularly. Stand trays outside until germination.

Flowers: February-April.

H x S: 45cm x 45cm.


Selinum wallichianum

Selinum wallichianum flowerheads
Selinum wallichianum flowerheads

Selinum wallichianum has very long-lasting umbels that improve each year. Sow fresh on the surface the compost. May need vernalisation (several months in cold, damp compost to break dormancy). Prick out promptly. Avoid disturbing roots.

Flowers: July-September.

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H x S: 1.8m x 60cm.