Take good care of your seedlings

Image credit: Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash

Thanks for growing some seeds of change! These seedlings will grow into pollinator-friendly plants with a bit of care to start them off.

Position: place your pot in a place with good natural light (direct sunlight is good, as long as it’s not too hot).

Care: as soon as you get home, get your pot on some kind of tray or saucer (the bottom will get a little soggy when you water it). Slowly add enough water to soak the compost nicely, and water it again when the top is starting to dry out. You should see your seedlings appear within a couple of weeks!

We suggested growing multiple seeds so that there’s more chance of some of them growing. If you’ve got two seeds of a certain variety, sometimes both will grow – you can keep them both there and spread them out when it comes to planting them outside. Sometimes, neither will grow – but that’s a good opportunity to try again! You can pop some more seeds of your choice in the same pot.

Time to move out: When your seedling is quite large and has strong roots which are starting to pop out of the bottom of the pot, it’s time to plant your seedling in the big wide world!

You can pop the whole newspaper pot in the ground – submerge it in a hole up to the previous soil level for borage and sunflowers, and the newspaper will biodegrade. Whenever you’re planting in a new place, give the plant a good drink of water and keep it well-watered while it gets established.

For wildflowers – plant these up to the soil level. These are very hardy little plants, so it doesn’t matter if you’re planting them out in spring or autumn (or any time between). You can get them in a pot or in the ground as long as it’s not frosty outside for some weeks. In autumn, their leaves might die back but they should re-emerge in spring.

For cosmos – you can plant these deeply for stronger roots (up to the first ‘true’ leaves), and you may want to pinch out the growing tip when it has a few sets of leaves on, to give a bushier plant.

When they’re flowering: Borage and cosmos will keep flowering if you ‘deadhead’ them – remove flowers that fade. We’d love to see the photos of plants you’ve grown from the exhibition – please share them with us! @ExeSciCentre.

For more information on caring for each plant, have a look at the links below:

Sunflowers: https://www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/gardening-children-schools/family-activities/grow-it/grow/sunflower

Cosmos: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/cosmos

Borage: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/borage/growing-guide

Wildflowers: https://www.rhs.org.uk/wildlife/lawn-and-mini-meadow-habitats – this little pot will form a ‘plug’ plant of wildflowers, that you can put into a pot, the garden border, or a long area of grass. You can let them self-seed and spread in future years!

Happy gardening!