As far as annuals go many gardeners simply head to the nursery in spring, buy their four packs of petunias, marigolds, impatiens, and geraniums. While this is great for everyone involved, I have found a new love for planting annual flowers from seed. A seed packet generally costs about a dollar, but the blooms that you can receive from that one packet are endless.
To start by seed, I do nothing special other than soak the seeds for a day before planting. This softens the seed shell and prepares the seed for germination. I have always planted the seeds directly into the soil by simply following the seed packet instructions. I have found that it is extremely important to not plant the seeds to deep. Even a light dusting of soil over the seeds has proven to be enough to support the seed growth.
It’s a common urge amongst many people to want to bring some of this beauty into their own back yards. If you’ve never gardened before – or never tried your hand at growing flowers – you may not know where to start. It’s actually quite simple to get some stunning results with just a little effort. Some of the most gorgeous flowers are able to grow in all types of soil and even under shady conditions.
Annuals are plants that grow through one season and then die (as opposed to perennials, which can regenerate the following season from the portion of them that’s still underground). Some of the flowers produced by annuals are prized by florist shops and can be a bit costly for the rest of us, but it’s not difficult to bring them to life in our own private landscapes. The easiest annuals to grow are the ones that are self-sowing. This means that new plants can grow from seeds dropped by the previous generation. You can plant these varieties directly into your garden patch from seed, and watch them not only bloom but then continue to propagate themselves. The annual flowers in the following list are all self-sowing and can be sown directly into the garden from seed rather than grown indoors, first, in containers.
A twining plant with flowers shaped like funnels, Morning Glory derives its name from the fact that its flowers usually only open in the morning.
The Morning Glory can be found in almost every color, but the most common varieties are Grandpa Otts, Heavenly Blue, Moonflower, and Scarlet O-Hara. The Morning Glory is a vine that will climb almost anything. Many gardeners like to have it climb along a porch railing where the blooms can be viewed early in the morning.
Another great annual to start from seed is the Sweet Pea. The Sweet Pea is a lovely fragranced trailing annual that has delicate flowers. The sweet pea does not climb as high or wide as the Morning Glory, but the sweet smell of a Sweet Pea flower is welcomed into any home!
Cosmos flowers are excellent to plant in a cutting garden. They range in shades from white, red, and to yellow and orange. Cosmos grow very tall and have thin daisy type flowers. Cosmos are great to plant on a hillside where they can grow tall and not block anything else in your garden.
This plant produces dense clusters of tiny white flowers. If you trim back its worn blossoms, it will continue to bloom throughout the growing season. Alyssum is a hardy plant: it resists heat, tolerates low moisture, and can thrive in nearly any type of soil and from full sun to partial shade.
Sunflowers are of course another favorite flower to start from seed. Sunflowers are especially fun for children who can excite over the extreme growth of a sunflower. Plant the massive varieties and the plants will soon tower over you. Save the flower head to dry the seeds for eating. Sunflowers are also great to leave in the garden when winter comes to provide food for the wildlife.
The Nasturtium is actually considered an herb because the flower petals are edible. They can be used to flavor and decorate salads and other summer dishes. They taste a faint peppery flavor and melt in your mouth. Nasturtiums are another trailing annual and can climb very high. They bloom prolifically and are most commonly found in shades of red, yellow, and orange. The Nasturtium makes a great choice for edging to a rock wall where the plant can fall over the edges. They also look excellent in hanging baskets and window baskets.
Also known as Pot Marigold, Calendula has a fiery heart and brilliant orange petals. These petals, incidentally, are considered edible. Calendula is every bit as adaptable as Alyssum.
A smoker you may not be – nor may you respect the tobacco industry for growing the more commonly known tobacco plant in such quantity, but one look at the pink starfish-shaped flowers of Nicotiana (which belongs to the Nightshade family) and you may be in love.
Zinnias produce really dense clusters of flowers in an array of colors: pink, yellow, orange, red, and white. This is one of the quickest flowers to bloom from seed.
These plants are prolific bloomers and will set blooms for many months. They are quick to bloom with the first flower opening just 2-3 weeks after planting the seed. Zinnias come in almost every shape and color and should be a part of every cutting garden. If you plant only one packet of Zinnias, you will have enough to fill a vase almost every day.
Also referred to as “Devil-in-a-bush” and “Love in the mist”, Nigella is often used in dried flower arrangements. It looks beautifully exotic in nature, though, with its narrow, threadlike leaves.
A dazzling array of colors – white, pink, yellow, orange, red, and blue, and each painting a single flower per stem.
Always be sure to follow the directions printed on your seed packets when you plant, especially in regard to spacing. You should churn up your soil with a spade, going six to eight inches deep, and then mix in some manure, composted soil, or other organic material. Slow-release granular fertilizer can help annuals grow to their full potential. Be gentle with your seedlings in the beginning. After planting, tamp the soil to better connect it with the seeds. When you water, use something with a spout that lets out a gentle shower as opposed to a spout. Hard watering can dislodge young roots. Remember that if your annuals survive their initial growing process, they might achieve a kind of immortality as their seeds survive winter to germinate on their own each succeeding year.