Seed sowing guide

This guide to germinating seeds, which has been compiled by our own horticultural experts in the US and the UK, has been designed to both widen and enhance the pleasure and success you get from growing your own flowers and vegetables from seed. See also our Vegetable Seed Sowing Guide.

What is a seed?

A seed in an embryonic plant waiting to get out. It's the pleasurable task of the gardener to turn the seed from dormancy into a living thing by providing warmth, light, air and moisture.

Seeds even have their own food supply to start them off, at least until they can put down roots and draw food and water from the soil.

Some seeds are quite unfussy about the conditions that trigger them into growth and many weed seeds fall into that category. Others are so sensitive they require a carefully controlled environment to germinate.

Fortunately, the great majority of flower and vegetable seeds will emerge from their big sleep quite readily if a few common sense guidelines are followed, and that's the purpose of this guide. It has been compiled by experts in Thompson & Morgan, a company that has been in the business of providing seeds for gardeners for close on 150 years.

The hope is that with the help offered in these pages the pleasure you get from sowing seeds will be both widened and enhanced.

Helipterum Pierrot

Key to Seed Abbreviations

Seeds are divided into categories and these are shown by using initials. This is a shorthand way of describing a plants growing characteristics.

seeds in a growing box

Undercover and Direct Sowing

Not sure how to sow seeds undercover or direct into the ground? Preparation is an important factor in successful seed raising.

red flowers in a field

Special Treatment

Covering topics like coping with small seeds using vermiculite or pre-chilling, this useful section will help you with some of the more specialised techniques.

Petunia flowers

What to Sow and When

The time to sow your seeds will vary from season to season and also with the area in which you live.

courgette plant

Pricking Out and Hardening Off

Not sure when to prick out or harden off seedlings? The following page will give you helpful hints and tips.

perennial plants

Sowing Biennials and Perennials

Although every garden should have its summer display of annual flowers, there should always be room for biennials and perennials.

beautiful geraniums

Raising F1 Hybrid Geraniums

The following page provides advice on when and how to sow F1 hybrid geraniums, including aftercare hints and tips.

nasturtium flowers used in hanging baskets

Hanging Baskets from Seed

Hanging baskets add a whole new dimension to gardening, helping to utilise all the available space.

long lasting and easy to care for flowers

Everlasting Flowers

There are four popular ways of drying flowers: Air drying, glycerine, moist drying and by using a desiccant.

tree outdoors with yellow leaves

Trees and Shrubs from Seed

The following article explains how to sow and grow tree and shrubs including pruning and trimming hints and tips.

child sowing seeds

View More Of Our Gardening Guides

Browse our gardening guides section for detailed growing advice, gardening hints and tips, and plenty of horticultural help from Thompson & Morgan's experts.

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