Sowing hardy annuals

How to sow hardy annuals

Find out how to sow hardy annual seeds outdoors in our step-by-step guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is at its best in June

Plant is at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Sowing seed straight into the ground is a great way to raise plants if you don’t have anywhere under cover to sow them. Some hardy annuals, such as poppies, sunflowers and dill, actually benefit from being sown direct.

A fine-textured soil is crucial when sowing seed, as most seeds contain only limited energy reserves to fuel their development. Once they start to germinate, the seedlings need to break through the soil surface to reach the light quickly, so the green shoots and leaves can photosynthesise to provide more energy.

If the soil contains big lumps of earth, the emerging shoots have to divert around the obstruction. This wastes energy and could kill the seedlings before they reach sunlight.

By contrast, when seeds are sown into fine, crumbly soil, the shoots are able to push straight up and out into the light. As a rule, the larger the seed, the more energy reserves it contains and the coarser the soil texture it can cope with.

Here’s how to sow hardy annual seeds.

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You Will Need

  • Fork
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Hardy annual seed
  • Line and reel

Total time:

Step 1

Prepare the bed before sowing on a dry day. Break down any large clumps using the back of a fork, and remove any weeds and rake the soil to a fine tilth. Remove any lumps of earth and large stones that may hinder the progress of emerging seedlings.

Raking topsoil to level the lawn area

Step 2

Create drills using a trowel. Neat rows of seedlings are much easier to weed, so create straight drills, using a line and reel, or attach a length of string to a cane at either end of the row.

Sowing hardy annuals

Step 3

Water the soil lightly before sowing, using a watering can with the rose attached.

Watering rocket seeds

Step 4

Space the seeds according to the instructions on the packet. Tip them into your hand, then sow them individually or in small pinches, rather than pouring directly from the packet. Lightly cover wth soil or leave the seeds on the surface, depending on the instructions on the seed packet.

Sowing seeds outdoors
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