Grow­ing bi­en­ni­als

Leaves one year, then flow­ers

Amateur Gardening - - Gardening Week -

ONE of the eas­i­est types of seed to sow are bi­en­ni­als. These are plants that pro­duce leaves the year they are sown and then flower the next, be­fore set­ting seed and dy­ing back.

Many bi­en­ni­als are pro­lific self­seed­ers, so if you al­ready grow them it is worth col­lect­ing the seeds and sow­ing where you want the plant to grow, rather than wait­ing for seedlings to spring up all around the gar­den.

The best way to cul­ti­vate them is to sow them in a nurs­ery bed if you have space, then move the seedlings in au­tumn so they can bed into their fi­nal flow­er­ing po­si­tions be­fore they go dor­mant in win­ter.

Al­ter­na­tively, sow thinly where you want them to grow, or start the seedlings in the ground be­fore pot­ting them up for win­ter. They can then be planted out in spring when bor­ders have more free space.

Bi­en­ni­als in­clude hon­esty (Lu­naria an­nua), sweet rocket (Hes­peris ma­tronalis) and fox­gloves (Dig­i­talis pur­purea), as well as a few short-lived peren­ni­als such as Ice­land pop­pies and Eryn­gium gi­gan­teum, a sea holly.

Wallflow­ers and sweet Wil­liams are also bi­en­ni­als and are of­ten bought as bare-root ready-to-plant bunches in au­tumn.

Fox­gloves are pop­u­lar bi­en­ni­als

Pot­ting up seedlings for win­ter

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