Sowing hardy annuals

How to sow hardy annuals

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

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May

Takes just:

30 minutes

At its best:

Jun, Jul, Aug

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.

You will need

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

Advertisement

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.

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.

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

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.

Advertisement

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Flower seeds to sow in July

Guide to sowing seeds

How to grow wallflowers from seed

Related offers

SAVE 20%

Subscriber only content Sarah Raven save 20 per cent

Save 20% at Sarah Raven

Subscribers save 20 per cent across the entire range from Sarah Raven, including a massive range of flowers, fruits, vegetables, garden furniture, outdoor lights and much more.

Unlock now

Offer

Save on pair of fragranced peonies

Save £5 on scented peonies

Save £5 on a pair of beautiful scented peonies. Usually £40, you’ll get one bare-root plant each of peonies 'Bowl of Beauty' and ‘Coral Charm’ for £35. Flowering from mid-June these plants have tall strong stems, making them an ideal addition for a cutting garden.

Use code: gwdbobccoff

Order now

FREE P&P

Delphinium collection from Woolmans

Save on delphiniums plus free p&p

Buy any two packs of delphiniums and get the third free, save up to £10.95 when you choose the Centurion Collection. These tall strong-stemmed flowers are attractive to pollinators and make excellent cut flowers.

Order now