Herbaceous perennials will soon be starting to grow again as the days lengthen. It’s time to give your old favourites room to grow by tidying up. It could also be time to branch out a bit by introducing some new perennials to the garden. Grow some from seed and you’ll soon have enough for you and all your friends too!

herbaceous perennials

Geraniums are herbaceous perennials that suit many different gardens.

Tidy up old herbaceous perennials

Clear away last year’s stems from your perennials to give the plants plenty of light and air to grow. Using sharp secateurs, cut off the dead growth as near to the ground as possible. Bunch the stems together and put them in an upright position at the back of a border or in another sheltered place out of sight. This will protect any insect eggs, larvae and chrysalises so the insects can develop and emerge in the spring.


Astrantia and hoverfly. © David Short and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Grow new perennials from seed

There are lots of good reasons for growing perennials from seed:

  • a better choice of plants
  • propagating precious plants from friends’ and family’s gardens
  • saving money
  • making money for charity and other good causes by selling plants
  • it’s fun!

It’s easy to sow perennial seed as Gardeners’ World shows here.

In brief: read the packet if you have one, keep the compost loose and level, cover the seed with a thin layer of sieved compost (use a pot) or vermiculite, place in a tray to take up water and put in a warm, sunny spot.

If you sow seed now, the new plants will be ready to plant out in the summer. Many will flower this year, if sown early enough. Have a look at Chiltern Seeds’ helpful list of first year flowering perennials.

Coneflowers (Rudbeckia) and blanket flowers (Gaillardia) grow quickly and will flower in their first year. Another reason we like them is because they are ‘perfect for pollinators’.

This year I plan to grow astrantia (see pic. above) from seed. It’s a plant I always admire in other people’s gardens but have never grown myself. I’m also going to sort through my seed box to find both those which are past their ‘best by’ date and any collected seed which has been hanging around for too long. I know there are some allium seeds from a family garden in there. I’ll sow the seed and see what happens. You can often be pleasantly surprised by what germinates.

future garden. perennials

This image of a clump of allium at Coleton Fishacre, by Derek Harper, lifts my spirits - and is something most gardens can support

Why don’t you sow the seed of some perennials and see what happens?