General gardening topics

How to grow perennials from seed – step by step

Last updated on October 13th, 2021

Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.

Spring time, especially the beginning of Spring is a perfect time to plant your perennials seeds after spending hours gazing through seed catalogues and garden centre seed shelves, but how do you grow quick-growing perennials from seed?

The good news is it’s quite easy if you follow these simple steps and you don’t need any expensive growing equipment although it can be beneficial to have a heated propagator to speed the process up and improve the germination rate, especially for perennials that may take a while to germinate which can be as little as 1 week to as long as a couple of months but it’s always worth being patient and is very rewarding.

Things you will need:

  • A seedling tray or some pots (A propagator can be helpful but not essential)
  • Multi-purpose compost with no peat or ready-made seed compost
  • Your perennial seeds of choice
  • A container or compost riddle

When you are ready and have everything you need, follow these steps to get started:

Step One – Fill seed trays with seed compost

Take a seed tray (can use pots if you don’t have a seed tray) and fill it with the seed compost or that multi-purpose compost you have. Gently firm it down but not too much, you don’t want the compost to be soggy, just moist. Water the compost thoroughly with a fine rose and let the water drain all the way through. This is very important to do before you even tackle the seeds.

Step Two – sow the seeds

Once the water has drained thoroughly scatter the seeds over the surface of the tray as evenly as possible. It is best to have different trays for different plants. If you have, for example, four types of seed you are trying to grow, it is better to sow them in individual containers so that they don’t get mixed up as it helps if they germinate as different times.

A useful tip is to get a toothpick and a small piece of paper to sow the seeds one at a time.

Step Three – Sieve a thin layer of compost over the seeds

Scatter a thin layer of compost over the seeds, perhaps a few mm thick. One quick and easy way to do this is to take a large plastic container, usually a pot from a previous plant with holes at the bottom and sieve the compost through the holes until such time as you have a fine layer over the entire tray. Try to scatter it evenly if you can, we also recommend investing in a compost sieve if you plan on sowing seeds regularly or making your own compost regularly and they are generally very affordable.

Step Four – Place the seed trays in a warm room or propagator

When you have done place the tray in a warm, sunny spot or into a propagator. Heated propagators can be a great investment and will help germinate seeds more quickly as they have consistent heat but its often not essential if you can keep the seeds in a warm room at normal room temperature.

Your plants can take up to two months to germinate depending on the type you have so be very patient with them at the start. During this time whether it’s two weeks or two months keep the soil moist by watering it regularly but be careful not to drown it or you leave the soil and seed susceptible to rot.

Once they germinate we recommend moving them into a slightly cooler room or turn off the heated propagator and let them grow in for a while until they are large enough to be planted on.

Step Five – Pot them in into large single pots

Once it’s time, and they are big enough to go into their own pot, carefully pick them out of the seed tray and transplant them into a slightly larger pot.

See a more in-depth guide on pricking out seedlings here

Depending on the type of plant you might have to do this transplanting process more than once, moving them regularly and to incrementally bigger pots until such time as the weather is tolerance of new plants and your seedlings are grown enough to be moved to their permanent home.

By following these steps you can very quickly and easily grow your perennials from seed and have an abundance of perennials at the beginning of the growing season ready to fill your garden with colour. And of course, being perennials, once this hard part is done, there is very little you will need to do if your plants happened to be self-seeding in which case they will come back on their own year after year.

Image credits –

Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

Write A Comment