Hold onto your gardening hats folks, because things are about to get colourful! For the next eight days, I’m embarking on a mission to grow cut flowers in every colour of the rainbow all from a tiny growing space in my own home! I’m here to prove to you that you absolutely do not need a large budget or a large growing space to grow cut flowers in any colour you want. With a just a bit of strategic timing, creativity and resourcefulness you can grow a bounty of blooms from just your windowsill, with no need for any extra growing space. So, let’s get started, and where better to start than with the fiery, passionate colour that is red!
I’ve selected three fabulous plants to grow in red and these include the wonderfully dramatic Amaranthus, the deep sultry Sunflower Red Sun and the super scented Sweet Pea Winston Churchill. Three fantastic plants that will give you scent, texture, and drama galore!
Timing is everything when it comes to starting a cut flower garden, and I’m kicking off my rainbow-hues mini-series at the end of April and into the beginning of May. This means I’ll be able to plant my seedlings directly at the end of April and into the beginning of May. This means I’ll be able to plant my seedlings directly into the ground in just a few weeks, without needing to worry about additional spacing or potting. Plus, waiting until after your last frost date – which can sometimes linger into the second week of May – gives your plants the best chance to thrive outdoors. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way that slow and steady wins the race!
As for containers, I’m using old takeaway containers to grow my seeds. Not only are they easy to get for free, but they’re also a great way to reduce single – use plastic waste and maximise space on your windowsill. Plus, who doesn’t love a good recycling hack? But, of course, you can use whatever containers you have on hand the important thing is to get those seeds planted and watch your rainbow garden grow!
So we’ve spoke about colour, timing, and containers, let’s get growing!
First up we have Amaranthus, also known as Love Lies Bleeding! This dramatic plant will absolutely steal your heart with it’s vibrant hot red flowers that cascade elegantly over a vase giving a marvellous waterfall effect to your arrangements. It’s a doddle to grow, and you’ll inevitably end up with far more seedlings than you need. Amaranthus has dust like seeds so I find it easiest to sow it like you would season food, just grab a small pinch of the seeds in your fingers and rub your fingers together sprinkling the seed evenly over your container of your pre- watered compost. And finish with a light sprinkle of compost on top, easy! (One pinch will be plenty, and will give you oodles of seeds, do not be tempted to over sow, its far more frustrating to prick out if you have too many seedlings!) Germination can take between 10 – 14 days.
Next up is Sunflower Red Sun, these are also straightforward to grow and result in such dramatic deep red blooms. If I could only grow one cut flower in red this would definitely, be it. These are super easy: just sow them twice the depth of the seed, with at least a good thumb width apart. (Ideally sunflowers would get sown in deeper pots ideally individually) but as we’re sowing in late spring and we will be planting out as soon as the frosts have gone, they can handle being temporarily closer together (just do be sure to get them straight in the ground as soon as the risk of frost had passed as they do love space to grow!) Germination can take 14 – 21 days maximum, although I often see signs of life within 7 – 10 days.
And lastly, it’s we have Sweet Pea Winston Churchill. Now some people swear by soaking their sweet pea seeds, I’ve tried soaking and not soaking and I’ve seen no difference in the results, so personally I save the faff and plonk them straight into my container. Usually about three times the depth of the seed with a light covering of compost over the top. Easy! Again, similar to Sunflowers, sweet peas usually like a deep pot with lots of space to grow – but as we’re sowing later in Spring a shallow container will temporarily be fine as long as you get them out in the ground as soon as possible. Sweet peas are the hardiest of all on this list so they can go straight it the ground as soon as shoots appear, (just mind the mice don’t sniff them out, they absolutely adore the taste of sweet peas, little blighters!)
So there we have three fantastic red cut flowers you can grow with very little growing space. Stay tuned for day two of the mini-series tomorrow where I will share cut flowers I am growing in another colour!