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While the weather is cold outside, you can take advantage of the warm weather inside by sowing seedlings. Check out our top tips for growing healthy seedlings, along with a list of our favourite seeds to plant in January.
Tropical fruits like aubergines and chillies benefit from being sown early – but a lack of natural light and varying temperatures can lead to weak seedlings. Minimise the risk of ‘damping off’ (a fungal disease which causes seedlings to collapse) with our top five tips:
Make sure you use new pots or thoroughly sterilise previously used pots and trays.
Use high-quality, peat-free seed compost. Soil from your garden can harbour all kinds of fungus spores, so it’s essential to use a sterile potting mix.
Make sure you leave space between seedlings for sufficient air circulation.
Water your seedlings from the bottom and remove excess water once the soil is moist.
Add a thin layer of gravel to the surface of the potting soil. This will help to keep the surface dry.
Renowned for their cheerful colours and striking petals, if you plant dahlia seeds in January, you can look forward to them blooming from July to November.
Sow 1–2 seeds in cells or small pots
Use seed compost and 10% vermiculite
Ideal temperature: 18–21°C (65–70°F)
Germination: approx. 5–20 days
These ever-popular crowd-pleasers are beloved for their delicate petals and sweet scent. They enjoy a four-month bloom between May and August.
Sow seeds 6cm deep in tubes or in 7cm pots
Use seed compost and 10% grit
Ideal temperature: 12°C (55°F) in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame
Germination: 10–14 days
Delphiniums help to create drama in flower beds with their striking colours and impressive stature, reaching heights of over two metres. They flower between June and July.
Sow delphiniums thinly in trays of seed compost
Lightly cover with 10% vermiculite
Ideal temperature: keep refrigerated for three weeks, then between 15–21°C (59–70°F)
Germination: 7–28 days
Geraniums are native to South Africa and boast around 250 wild species. Their vibrant flowers blossom from June to November.
Sow thinly, just below the surface, in small seed trays
Use seed compost and 10% grit
Ideal temperature: 24°C (75°F)
Germination: 3–12 days
Offering a huge variety of colours and flower shapes, petunias come in two main types: bushy and upright, making them ideal for pots and flower beds. They blossom from late June to September.
Sow petunias thinly on the surface in small trays of seed compost
Lightly dust with vermiculite to barely cover
Light is essential for petunias to grow
Ideal temperature: 24–27°C (75–80°F)
Germination: 14 days
Coleus has striking foliage which comes in colour combinations including green, yellow, pink and red. They look magnificent from June onwards.
Sow thinly in pots or a tray using seed compost
Use 10% vermiculite, covering to its own depth
Ideal temperature: 19–24°C (65–75°F)
Germination: 10–20 days (depending on temperature)
A wonderfully fragrant herb that makes a beautiful accompaniment to salads and pasta dishes. Plant seeds in January and you can harvest the delicious leaves between May and October.
Sow thinly in seed compost on the surface of pots or trays
Cover lightly with vermiculite
Ideal temperature: 15–25°C (59–77°F)
Germination: 14–21 days
Often mistaken for vegetables, chillies and aubergines are actually fruits. Familiar staples in most kitchens, they are easy to grow and can be harvested between July and October.
Sow 2–3 seeds thinly per small individual pot
Use seed compost and 10% silver sand
Cover to own depth with vermiculite
Ideal temperature: 21–27°C (70-80°F)
Germination: 3–10 days