Though it's still too cold to direct sow seeds outside, there are plenty that you can start off inside in February. A propagator is ideal if you have one, though a warm, bright windowsill is fine, too.
By sowing seeds early on in the year, you can be enjoying beautiful blooms and tasty crops for a larger part of the year. The season of interest can then be extended by carrying out repeated sowings from March onwards.
You will need:
It’s exciting to be able to start sowing a variety of different seeds at this time of year, and to give them the best chance you might find that it's worth investing in additional kit, which we've suggested below.
- Heated propagators: Available in a range of shapes and sizes, we’ve suggested the best heated propagators, which provide the perfect growing conditions for seedlings.
- Cold Frames: If you’re prepared to add a bit of extra insulation, a cold frame offers protection against wintry weather and can help hardy seeds get off to a flying start too – check out our pick of the best garden cold frames.
- Greenhouses: For those of you who have been toying with the idea of a greenhouse, we’ve got handy guides packed with information about how to choose the best greenhouse, as well as 12 of the most useful greenhouse accessories. No outside space? No problem – our round-up of the best indoor greenhouses is just for you.
Cosmos are easy flowers to grow and they look great in borders or meadows. Go for annuals like Cosmos bipinnatus or C. sulphureus, and choose single-flowered varieties like 'Fizzy Pink' to please pollinators. The seeds need light to germinate, so sow on top of seed compost in a tray, then prick out when large enough to handle.
A red kale plantWhile very hardy, kale seeds need to be started off indoors during winter, as it will be too cool outside. Sow them indoors in modules or 7cm pots, with 2-3 seeds per module, then thin to leave the healthiest seedling.
Pink sweet pea 'First Flame'Sweet peas provide a heady summer scent and growing them from seed couldn't be easier. Biodegradable pots or cardboard tubes are best, as they allow the sweet peas to be planted out in their containers. Sow individually then place on a sunny windowsill, in a greenhouse, or in a heated propagator.
- Buy sweet pea seeds from Crocus, Thompson & Morgan, Sarah Raven and Primrose
- Buy biodegradable pots from Crocus and Sarah Raven
Sowing tomato seeds in a tray in a propagatorSown indoors in a heated propagator or on a sunny windowsill, tomatoes should germinate within two weeks. Sow tomato seeds in pots of seed compost, or in trays, and place in a heated propagator or on a warm windowsill, keeping the compost moist.
- Buy tomato seeds from Thompson and Morgan, Crocus and Sarah Raven
- Buy Garland Fab 4 Electric Heated Propagator on Amazon
- Buy Garland Super7 Electric Heated Propagator on Amazon
- Buy Harrod Heated Windowsill Propagator with Capillary Mat and Tray at Harrod Horticultural
Vivid blue Salvia patens
Salvias, like this Salvia patens, are great for providing structure and height in the garden, and can be grown in borders or containers. Sow the seeds under cover in February, on top of seed compost. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of compost, then grow in a light, warm spot, keeping the compost moist. Other salvias you could sow in February include Salvia splendens and Salvia farinacea.
Avoiding damping off
Low light levels and stuffy indoor can both encourage damping off – a fungal disease that sweeps through trays of seedlings. Prevent it by using fresh compost with perlite added, watering pots and trays from below and opening propagator vents during the day.