The influence of oscillatory versus unidirectional flow on the growth and nitrate-uptake rates of juvenile kelp, Laminaria digitata, was determined seasonally in experimental treatments that simulated as closely as possible natural environmental conditions. In winter, regardless of flow condition (oscillatory and unidirectional) or water velocity, no influence of water motion was observed on the growth rate of L. digitata. In summer, when ambient nitrate concentrations were low, increased water motion enhanced macroalgal growth, which is assumed to be related to an increase in the rate of supply of nutrients to the blade surface. Nitrate-uptake rates were significantly influenced by water motion and season. Lowest nitrate-uptake rates were observed for velocities <5 cm · s−1 and nitrate-uptake rates increased by 20%–50% under oscillatory motion compared to unidirectional flow at the same average speed. These data further suggested that the diffusion boundary layer played a significant role in influencing nitrate-uptake rates. However, while increased nitrate-uptake in oscillatory flow was clear, this was not reflected in growth rates and further work is required to understand the disconnection of nitrate-uptake and growth by L. digitata in oscillatory flow. The data obtained support those from related field-based studies, which suggest that in summer, when insufficient nitrogen is available in the water to saturate metabolic demand, the growth rate of kelps will be influenced by water motion restricting mass transfer of nitrogen.