Ready, set, sow!

Grow beautiful, exotic flowers from your favourite RHS Garden for less than £1 a packet with our members' seed scheme

Our aim is to encourage you to have a go at growing plants from seed, which is fun and rewarding (albeit not without its challenges - the slugs may find your seedlings irresistible!).

Growing from seed is a fun and really economical way of filling your borders with plants, and in my garden I grow loads of annuals and herbaceous perennials in the early spring to fill the gaps left by the spring-flowering forget-me-nots.   

This year at Wisley the Seed Team created two small borders outside the Honest Sausage Café, which were completely filled with plants grown from seed that we had collected from our RHS Gardens. Our wonderful Propagation Team started them off for us and when they reached a good size (in mid-May) we planted them out.

Each bed followed an RHS initiative: one was Plants for Pollinators (see photo, below), and the other was a Greening Grey Britain bed. In this one we tried to create a front garden, using pebbles to represent a garden path.

Perfect for pollinators mix

The plants we used were ones which would cope with dry, exposed conditions and thrive on neglect. It worked well, and the Verbena bonariensis (purple top) was perhaps rather too successful, so we’ll be taking some of this out next year and trying something else. Its success is a great example of how easy it is to grow from seed, and the fun to be had experimenting – next year we’ll have more fun trying a different mix.  


Hot off the press

Our new 2017 seedlist is just about to be released and if you’re an RHS member you can order your allocation of 12 packets of seed for just £8.50 by going to our seed list page, any time between 1 November 2016 and 31 March 2017.

Although most of our seed is harvested from our Wisley we do also collect some seed from our other gardens. RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex has an impressive dry garden - have you ever been? From there, for our seedlist we collected the lovely Tulbaghia violacea (society garlic) that resembles a pink agapanthus and is a fast-growing, rhizomatous perennial with narrow, garlic-scented leaves and umbels (think of flowerheads shaped like an umbrella) of delicate lilac flowers in late summer and autumn. It grows prolifically at Hyde Hall! And from the Cottage Garden at RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon we collected seed from the tall, striking annual Nicotiana mutabilis (see photo, below) with flowers that open white aand gradually change to dark pink.  


Nicotiana mutabilisTry something new today

Here at Wisley we have at last been able to collect sufficient seed to include Embothrium coccineum (Chilean fire bush, see photo, end) on our seedlist. This is an impressive, small evergreen tree growing in our Chilean glade and which has intensely scarlet tubular flowers in late spring.  
Other new ones on our list include Nepeta kubanica, a catmint with attractive deep purple, tubular flowers which has featured in our Mixed Borders for the last couple of years and Lepechinia hastata (pakaha), a perennial with aromatic leaves and purplish-pink salvia-like flowers in very late summer and early autumn.

There is so much choice and flexibility when you grow from seed. Yes, they’ll be a few losses, but you’re bound to have surpluses to give away too. So if you’ve never tried growing from seed then I strongly urge you to give it a go!

It’s great fun to experiment, and it is so thrilling to see small seeds become flowering beauties - and it’s never going to break the bank.


Chilean fire bush (Embothrium coccineum)Useful links

Find out more about the seed scheme

Germination Guide (945kB pdf)

How to collect seed from your garden (800kB pdf)

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Seeds: Sowing indoors

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.