About our Plants, Seedlings, Bulbs and Seeds

For clarification on what to expect in your delivery of live plants, please see the relevant section below:

All of our bulbs, plants and seeds are sent out with full planting instructions so you can get the very best from them. If you find you have any more questions about your delivery, planting or after care, our Customer Services team will be happy to help.


At Sarah Raven we are fully aware of the threat Xylella poses to our natural habitat, trees and plants. We are careful to sow and grow our seedlings in the UK from seed and we source as many plants as possible from UK growers. We work closely with all our growers to minimise the risk of diseased or poorly sourced plants.

Annuals, perennials and biennials

Annuals are plants that go through their entire lifecycle in one growing season: growing from seed, flowering, setting seed and dying.

Biennials are plants whose lifecycle spans two years, so they flower and produce seeds in their second year.

Perennials are plants that can live for more than two years.

For more detailed descriptions on these and other symbols we use on our website, please see our article on Understanding types of plants.

Bulbs, tubers, corms and pips

Bulbs, tubers, corms and pips are dormant plants that are all planted in a similar way – they will arrive ready to be potted up or planted directly into the ground.

We only sell top size, best quality bulbs, tubers and corms from our long-standing, trusted suppliers. They will last longer and produce more flowers than the smaller sizes that are often more cheaply available.

Our bulbs may be described by size, expressed as the circumference at its widest point. For example, a 10/12 bulb is between 10 and 12 centimetres round at its widest point; a 12/+ bulb is 12cm or larger.

Tulip bulbs


Bulbs are usually egg-shaped, with a pointy end that goes up. The roots emerge from the basal plate (rough part) at the rounder end, so plant them pointy end up.

Pictured: Tulip bulbs, which are best planted in late October ro November so the colder temperatures can wipe out any diseases lurking in the soil.

Gladiolus corms


Corms look similar to bulbs, but flatter.

Pictured: Gladiolus corms, which are easy to grow. Most are best planted in the spring once the soil has warmed up.

Dahlia tubers


Tubers look like a bunch of salamis gathered together on a stem. You may find some parts get detached – but don't worry, the main stalk and the tubers directly below are the important parts.

Pictured: Dahlia tubers, which are tender and need to be protected from frost. Dahlia tubers vary in size according to variety – some are a lot smaller than others. 

Anemone rhizomes

Hesperantha rhizomes


Rhizomes are underground stems that grow horizontally.

Pictured top: A bag of Anemone rhizomes. Anemones lipsiensis and nemorosa resemble a bit of dried dirt, and will arrive looking like a bag of twiggy soil – the rhizomes are the twiggy bits.

Pictured bottom: A bag of Hesperantha rhizomes. Hesperantha are clump-forming rhizomes, sent out in bags with loose soil to help keep them fresh. On arrival, if you are not ready to plant them straight away, open the tops of the bags and spray the clumps with water regularly to keep them from drying out. Divide the large clump into smaller sections when you are ready to plant them. They will establish and spread quite quickly.

Bulbs in the green

Bulbs in the green

Certain bulbs – bluebells, aconites and snowdrops – do better planted in active growth, with their leaves on, rather than in a dormant state. They'll settle in quite quickly, as it's like lifting a clump from your own garden.

The bulbs are lifted in late winter/early spring, while the bulb is in flower or after flowering when they are beginning to die back.

You'll need to plant your bulbs as soon as possible to the same depth as they were before – you can see this from where the leaves turn white.

Plants, seedlings and rooted cuttings

Our plants, seedlings and rooted cuttings come in a range of sizes – see which ones are available for your chosen plants on each product page. For an idea of what to expect when your plants arrive, please see the examples below:

Seedlings, Jumbo Seedlings and Rooted Cuttings

Seedlings, Jumbo Seedlings and Rooted Cuttings

A. Seedlings

Our exclusive seedlings are grown specially for us by our nursery in Lincolnshire. They are grown in large plug trays, with a solid plug usually 3.5cm or more across at the top. We carefully take them out of the plug trays and individually pack them by hand before sending them to you, ready for potting on.

Rooted Cuttings

These are well rooted, grown from cuttings and ready to be potted on.

B. Jumbo Seedlings

Well established seedlings, grown from seed with a larger root system, giving you a head start when planting them later in the season.

Young Plants

Young Plants

Well rooted larger plants, grown from cuttings or tissue culture. These are ready to be planted out, see planting instructions for seasonal recommendations.

Sweet Pea Seedlings

Sweet Peas

Our Sweet pea seedlings are also grown in large plug trays, but they are extra-deep, allowing them to develop a long root. We hand-wrap our sweet peas before sending them to you.

9cm perennial plants

9cm plants

Our garden-ready perennial plants are mature plants with well-established root systems, ready to be planted straight out into the garden. A measurement in centimetres describes the upper diameter of the pot. 

Larger pot sizes

1L, 2L and 3L plants

Perennial plants may also be described by the volume of soil the pot holds. 1L pots are roughly equivalent to 13cm pots; 2L pots equivalent to 17cm pots; 3L pots equivalent to 19cm pots. These plants have been carefully grown at our nursery.

Bare root plants

Bare roots

Bare roots will arrive with you as a dried bundle; they should be soaked overnight in a bucket of water before planting out. Bare roots are grown in open ground, they are lifted and the soil is removed. This is the best and safest way to transplant large, mature plants.

Seeds and seed coverage

You will receive full sowing and growing instructions with your seeds.

All our seed has been through rigorous germination tests. Seed is packed in hermetically sealed inner sachets, then placed in an outer packet. Larger beans and peas are loose in their outer packets. None of our seed has been genetically modified or chemically treated. If you are not happy with the germination or you have any other quality concerns, please contact us and we will refund or replace your packet.

Some seed we sell is organic. This will be clearly labelled on the product page with our organic logo. For a full list of organic seeds, please click here.

Wherever possible, we provide counted seed quantities to give you the best idea of what you are buying. For these, please see the planting information on each individual product page for information on spacing and spread. Some of our seed mixes, designed to be scattered straight into your garden, are sold by weight, and we often mention how much ground it will cover in square metres. This diagram shows how we calculate this area:

square metre coverage

Kitchen garden plants

Fruit and veg plants come in a variety of different formats. For more information on plants and seedlings, please see above. For formats specific to our kitchen garden plants, please see below.

Harvesting potatoes from a potato planter

Seed potatoes

We sell three potato cropping types (please see individual product pages for specific growing information):

  • Early varieties are best for small, new potatoes and are ideal for growing in bags or containers. First earlies are usually planted February-April for harvest 10 weeks later. Second earlies are usually planted March-May for harvest 10 weeks later.
  • Maincrop varieties produce larger potatoes for baking and roasting, and are best planted in the ground or spacious container. They are usually planted May-June for harvesting 10-16 weeks later.

Potatoes are sold bagged by weight (usually 1kg or 1.5kg), so the count may vary slightly.

Onion 'Sturon'

Onion and shallot sets

The term ‘sets’ is used to distinguish these from mature bulbs; these items are young bulbs, from which mature bulbs are grown.

Onion and shallot sets are sold bagged by weight (usually 250g), so the count may vary slightly.

Garlic 'Early Purple Wight'


Most of our garlic is sold as bulbs, except our elephant garlic, which is sold as a given number of individual cloves.

Each clove of garlic will grow into a mature bulb.

Asparagus crowns

Asparagus and Rhubarb crowns

Crowns are the dormant roots of mature plants, ready to be planted out.

We sell our asparagus in sets of 10, and our rhubarb in sets of three.

Raspberry canes

Strawberry bare roots and raspberry canes

These will arrive as a dried bundle, and should be soaked overnight before planting out.