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Success With Your Seeds

First Shoots seedling image

We want you to have the best possible success with your seeds which is why they have to pass the most stringent tests in our laboratory and at our trial grounds. In addition to checking germination levels, we also look at seed purity and trueness to type by growing plants on to maturity.

Given good conditions for germination, we are confident that you will be delighted with the results from our seeds, and to help you achieve this we have put together some hints and tips below.

The first thing to say is that it is always best to go with the growing instructions in our catalogue and on our seed packets. We are constantly updating this information from results on our own trials.

Growing temperatures stated are the ideal for your guidance, if you cannot quite reach this level at home, don’t worry, your seeds may just take a little longer to germinate.

Sowing Outdoors

The soil should be warm, well drained yet moist and free from weeds. A good tip as to when the soil is warm enough is to watch the weed seedlings. Normally when they germinate and emerge, you are okay to clear them off and sow your seeds. Rake your soil to a fine, crumbly surface and follow directions on the packets.

Sowing Indoors

Sow in trays using a fresh, moist, good quality seed or universal compost. (Most germination failures are due to poor compost). Firm the surface prior to sowing. Water and place in a warm, moist, well-lit position.

Sowing Depth

Sowing too deep can lead to germination failure as the seed can run out of energy before the shoot reaches the surface. Always follow packet instructions.

To germinate well, seeds need the following three elements to be in harmony:

Light: Most seeds need covering with soil or compost, but some, e.g. Lobelia and Petunia need light to germinate and therefore should be sown on the compost surface.

Water:   Seed can fail to germinate if the soil or compost is too wet or too dry. So how can you tell? Indoors we suggest that when you have sown your seed in trays or pots, you place them in shallow water in a sink until you see the compost surface turn darker in colour. Normally then there should be sufficient moisture to ensure germination. For outdoor sowing, follow the tip as in ‘Sowing Outdoors’ above.

Temperature:   Each type of seed has its own ideal germination temperature. Always refer to recommendations on the packets. Remember that temperatures too high, as well as too low can inhibit germination. Do not be tempted to sow earlier than recommended.

Pests and Diseases

The most common reason for seedlings dying is ‘Damping Off’ – a fungal disease caused by poor light, excessive moisture and sowing the seed too thickly. The cure of course is correct levels of light, moisture and sowing density!

All our seeds have full growing instructions printed on the packets. If you have any further queries you can always contact our Customer Care team.

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