Its really important to give your plants a chance ‘toughen up’ or ‘Harden off’ before planting out in the garden.
Its not just the change in temperature, they also have to get acclimatised to, lower humidity and increased air movement.
We move our plants from the greenhouse or polytunnel outside but under cold frames for 7-10 days.
Then for another period we will remove the cold frames but still give the plants some wind protection. A wall, close to the home or for us the side of the greenhouse is ideal.
Finally after this period of 2-3 weeks our flowers will be planted out into the garden or flower field.
For most of my gardening life I have had a full time job so many of my methods have evolved from enabling me to cope with limited time and at times limited space.
I have found one of the best ways to keep a constant supply of flowers throughout the season is start plants in trays and pots.
I will often ‘pot on’ at least once before they go out into the garden or flower field.
I find flowers are bigger and better equipped to fight their corner against weeds and existing plants when sited herbaceous beds and borders.
This is also of the best ways not to get overwhelmed, the urgency to plant out is reduced as plants are happily growing away and you have your own little plant nursery to call on should the dreaded slugs make a banquet of your newly planted babies!
Here at Swan Cottage we grow intensively producing many times the amount of flowers you would expect from the space.
But we have learned that plants spaced too tightly are counterproductive giving you less not more flowers!
The spacing can see huge when the plants first go in, but they quickly bulk up growing up to 1.1M in the case of some annuals and dahlias.
Spacing depends on what types of flowers are on your wish list and most of this information will be included on the individual seed packets, but as a general rule:
- 22 cm spacing is perfect for most plants such as Snap Dragons, Cornflowers, Grasses and Zinnia’s;
- 30 cm is better for tall plants such as Cosmos, Ammi and Amaranthus;
- 45 cm is essential for Dahlia’s – be generous, you will get better flowers and the tuber will be able to mature giving you the opportunity for future propagation.
Plants under stress will bolt (which means they try to set seed) skipping the strong growth and blooming we are aiming for.
If you have a dedicated cut flower patch you will find growing much easier if you group plants by the space they need keeping the Dahlias together for example.
I hope you have found this information useful