One of the best remedies for February's cold, grey winter days is to start sowing flowers! As long as you have a sunny windowsill, you can plant seeds now and look forward to beautiful colours in summer. Here are some of our favourite flowers that can all be sown in February.
Sowing sweet peas
Sweet peas are gorgeous in summer, with their fragrant flowers in practically every colour you can think of. Sow them now, and they'll be ready to plant in spring once the frosts are over. Sweet peas do best if their roots grow deep, which is why they're best sown in root trainers – these come in sets of long thin plastic modules that can be clipped together and unclipped to remove the seedlings for planting out. The root trainers can be reused, but if you're trying to reduce plastic use in your garden, toilet roll cardboard tubes make an excellent alternative.
- Fill the root trainers or toilet roll tubes with seed compost and sow two seeds per pot, around 1cm deep.
- Water the pots and place them on a sunny windowsill until the seeds germinate, then move them somewhere cooler to grow on.
- Plant the pairs of seedlings out in spring without trying to untangle the roots, and they'll give you double the flowers! If you've grown seedlings in cardboard tubes, plant the whole thing and let the cardboard break down naturally in the soil.
Antirrhinums, better known as snapdragons or dragon flowers, are a cheerful sight in summer and bloom for months with very little need for care. They take a long time to grow from seed, so it's worth starting to sow them now to be sure of flowers in time for summer.
- Fill seed trays with a good quality multipurpose compost and scatter the seeds on the surface, pressing down lightly.
- Water and place in a propagator at 20-25C. If you don't have a propagator, seal the seed tray inside a clear plastic bag and place it on a sunny windowsill.
- Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots and grow until the frosts are past, then plant them outside in well-drained soil in full sun.
Get a head start on summer bedding by sowing tender geraniums (pelargoniums) now.
- Fill pots or seed trays with seed compost, moisten it slightly and sow the seeds on the surface, then cover them with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite.
- Place the pots or trays in a propagator at 20-25C or inside a clear plastic bag on a sunny windowsill. Water them enough to keep the compost moist.
- Once the seedlings are large enough, transplant them into individual pots and grow until late spring, when they can be planted in beds, containers or hanging baskets.