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Name: Bob Moore
Question: I've ordered quite a lot of perennial seeds this year, and fairly inexperienced. What size do the plants need to be for me to nip them, to make them bushy? Also, when I've grown the plants on, do I plant them out next year, or leave them until the spring of 2014?
Answer: Hi Bob. It’s great to hear that you are growing your own perennials. If you have sown some already then make sure that you don’t overwater them during the winter months - they won’t do a lot of growing while the temperatures and light levels are low. If they get too cold and wet then you run the risk of the seedlings rotting off.
You don’t need to worry about pinching out their stems until they are potted up individually and growing strongly. They will probably be getting on for about 10 to 15 cm tall (5-6") by the time that pinching becomes necessary. Simply pinch the main stems back between your finger and thumb to just above a node. This will encourage new stems to break further down the stem and make bushier plants.
You could plant your young perennials out in late spring/ early summer next year, but bear in mind that they will still be quite small and may succumb to competition from larger plants. It might be better to grow them on until next autumn to make bigger, more substantial plants. You will need to pot them on into progressively larger pots as they grow. You can plant them out in October or November 2013, and this should give them sufficient time to settle in to their new homes before the following growing season. Hope that helps you Bob. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Name: Farooqui Yawar
Question: Hi, I got few seeds like poppy, Heliopsis, Geranium etc. It’s sowing time for annuals in India. Can I save few seeds for next year? Will it decrease its germination rate? Thanks
Answer: Hello Farooqui. Yes you can save some seeds if you want to. The germination rate may decrease slightly but all of the seed that you mention should last for a few years. Make sure that you store them in a cool, dry place. You can also collect some seed from the plants that you grow this year if you want too.