June growing with Cel


This month I’ll be sowing the final packet of seeds from the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Free Seeds campaign! The weeks between mid-May and midsummer are the ideal time to start sowing biennial varieties, so the foxglove seeds with June’s edition of the magazine are perfectly timed for sowing now.


I’m Cel, and I’m a cut flower grower based in North Norfolk. I hope you’ve enjoyed growing your free flower seeds along with me! All of the seeds that I’ve sown over the past few months are growing on fairly well now, and with the warmer weather of June - along with plenty of rainfall – I’m hoping that the seedlings will bulk up quickly once they are all planted out and that I will soon have some flowers blooming in my pollinator border.

Sow with me

Foxglove seeds

The free foxglove seeds that we’ve received this month are so tiny that the seed almost looks like dust in the palm of your hand! When seed is this small, it generally needs to be sown on the surface of the compost. Foxglove seed actually needs to be exposed to light for germination. I use a flat seed tray to sow foxglove seed; I use sieved compost to fill the tray and then cover the compost with a fine layer of vermiculite. I then sow the foxglove seed fairly thinly over the top of the vermiculite and most importantly, I don’t cover the seed at all. I make sure that I clearly label the tray before placing it into a water bath to soak from underneath. You need to take care if you are only able to water from overhead as the fine seed can be washed from once side of the tray to the other very easily – perhaps a spritz with a mister would be gentler way of watering initially than with a watering can!

The seed will germinate within 14-21 days if left in a warm, light place. It is so exciting to see a little haze of green foxglove seedlings appear across the surface of the seed tray! You’ll need to leave the seedlings to grow on in the tray for a couple of weeks after they’ve germinated until they are large enough to handle; as soon as they are a decent size, prick them out carefully into individual cells in a module tray. They will take a few weeks to grow and develop a good root system before they are ready for planting out into the garden.

From a sowing in June, I would expect to plant the foxgloves into beds towards the beginning of September. Foxgloves are typically a woodland-edge plant and will thrive planted in light or dappled shade, but they will flower well in a sunnier position as long as they don’t go dry. Make sure that you don’t plant them out too late in the autumn as they need to form a good size rosette of leaves before the winter weather comes in to ensure good flowering in early summer next year.

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Seedling update

Cel plants out her free seed seedlings

The weather this spring has been incredibly wet on my plot in North Norfolk, and I don’t think there can be a gardener anywhere in the country who has escaped the onslaught of slugs and snails that have been feasting on our garden plants. The leaves of my sunflower plants are looking rather lacy at the moment, and alas, my zinnia seedlings were completely eaten over the course of a weekend! Fortunately, I hadn’t sown the entire packet of zinnias; I’ve re-sown some seed, which germinated very quickly in just three days! I’ve also sown another batch of sunflower seeds which I hope will bloom later in early autumn. It’s not too late to sow sunflowers, zinnias or cosmos if the slugs have made a meal of your young plants!

I’ve made use of a window of dry weather to start planting my flower seedlings into a bed that I have prepared. The bed is in a sunny spot, and I have applied seaweed meal (for the trace elements) and a couple of inches of compost to feed the plants. As the bed can be seen from both sides, I’ve planted the sunflowers (which are the tallest plants) in a staggered row along the middle of the bed. The cosmos, strawflowers, and echium seedlings have been planted around the sunflowers and I’ve made sure to leave some space to plant the zinnias once they are large enough to plant out! If the weather was dry I would have watered the plants well as it’s important to make sure they don’t dry out whilst they get established. With all of the rain we’ve been having though it hasn’t been necessary to water at all – let’s just hope we get some sunshine soon to get our plants blooming!