Flowers to sow in March
Growing flowers among a vegetable garden comes with benefits beyond simply adding beauty. Flowers can be used in companion planting to help deter pests and attract beneficial pollinators. Interplanting also saves space and time, as you can grow and tend to more of your plants in one place.
Even without companion benefits, the vegetable garden is a lovely place to plant flowers intended for cutting. Having a readily available summer supply of flowers, for a display on your kitchen table, is such a treat.
Hardy annuals such as sweet pea make great cut flowers and are so easy to grow. Perennials, for example, lupins or dahlias, can also be grown easily from seed and are well suited to container gardening.
Lupins are quick growing perennials that provide interest and colour in a garden. If the seeds are started under protection such as a greenhouse, they will flower the same year. Sow indoors, scattering seed on the surface of moist compost. Cover with a lid – I like to use two of the ‘see through’ punnets. These can be found in supermarkets holding mushrooms or other vegetables. I reuse these punnets, one for sowing the seeds and the other for a lid.
Remove the cover when seedlings have appeared. Keep on a sunny windowsill and keep watered.
Dahlias are tender perennials that will flower in their first year if sown in the greenhouse or polytunnel in March. Fill a pot or seed tray with moist compost and lightly firm the surface.
Gently push your dahlia seeds into the compost. Cover pots with a reused clear bag. Use a rubber band to hold the bag in place. If sown in seed trays, cover with a propagator lid.
Cosmos are freely flowering annual plants that are easy to grow and reach full maturity within two months. If you’re looking for a flower that will continue to put on a show for months, cosmos are a great choice.
For early blooms, you can start the seeds indoors for germination, if not, the seeds can simply be scattered around the area once the frost has passed.
These beautiful blooms sit atop long, slender stems and form a cloud of colour that not only looks attractive throughout the summer but also attracts bees, butterflies, and birds to your garden.
Sweetly scented sweet peas never disappoint as a cut flower. Sweet pea seeds can be planted from October to March. They have long roots, so sowing into a reused toilet roll is ideal.
When plants are 10cm tall, pinch out the tips to encourage bushy growth. Plant outside in mid-spring, or when you are sure the cold snaps have passed, and keep well watered.
Most varieties have tendrils that will climb up a support, but some sweet peas will need tying in.
Start feeding sweet peas with a high potash fertiliser when flower buds appear.
Once they are in flower, regular picking encourages more buds to form, so keep picking those blooms for the vase to enjoy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tara Kate Linnane is passionate about sustainability and growing all things edible. Together with her husband Barry, she has embarked on a journey of designing edible spaces and getting others started on their gardening adventures.