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Sun-Loving Annuals Are Easy To Start From Seeds
by Jennifer Moore
by Jennifer Moore


Jennifer Moore is the owner and operator of Moore Landscaping based in Elora, Ontario. Jennifer is a talented writer and landscape designer providing unique landscaping services.

Her website can be reached here...

January 23, 2011

There are many seeds available to purchase, some working well for the novice gardener. The colourful packaging and beautiful photos of mass-planted flowers can lure us to believe we can achieve the same results as in the pictures. Well, there actually are many seed varieties available that can achieve such success, but some should be started 8 to 10 weeks from setting out. Yet, the old-fashioned varieties that our ancestors might have once planted are great ones to start from seeds outdoors. Many of the old-fashioned varieties have been improved with disease resistance and they are now available in a wider colour range. With a little space, time and care, a bare patch in your garden can be a welcoming sight.

Some of the easier varieties include:

Zinnia - single or fully double blossoms make long-lasting cut flowers and when cut just before they are fully open, will last for weeks. Plant the seeds in well-drained soil in full sun, as they perform better in hot weather. Different species range with blossoms being a 1-inch across "Pompom", to small, sandwich-sized "Cactus" varieties. The colours include bright yellows, reds and oranges, or pastels of pink, peaches and cream, and the more recent lime-green "Envy" or a dark purple are available. Taller varieties, reaching 2 1/2 to 3 feet are better placed at the back of the border and the shorter ones near the front. They all look best when crowded together in a mass planting, as a few scattered plants will look out of place, resembling soldiers standing to attention.

Nigella - Also known as "Love-in-a-mist", this wiry-stemmed, branching annual is soft- looking with its finely-cut, whispy leaves and bracts that surround the flowers. The flowers are in shades of cream, pinks and blues, are very delicate looking with their many petals pushing backwards to reveal their lime-green staemens. An added benefit to this feminine-looking flower, are the attractive seed pods that are prized for dried arrangements. Long ago, before pepper seasoning was available, those same seeds heads were torn apart to reveal the jet black seeds, that were used as a pepper substitute.

Cosmos - These are so easy to grow from seed, I wonder why more are not grown. Reaching up to 3 to 4 feet in height, they are the perfect back-of-the-border addition. Seeds that are lightly scattered into moistened soil in a full-sun location reward the grower with many daisy-like blossoms in "Sensation" white, pink and rose or "Bright Lights" neon orange. The more interesting, novelty variety "Sea Shells" have petals that are tubular in shape rather than the regular flat petal. Cosmos need to be closely planted, 6 to 8 inches apart, because of their airy foliage, but planting too close will limit the amount of flowers produced. If you have planted them too close, moving them when they are young will not hinder their growth. Even when planted in late June, flowers will adorn bouquets 10 weeks later until frost. Ensure more blossoms are produced by removing the seed heads regularly during the growing season, then allow it to sow itself for the following year approximately two weeks before the last expected frost.

Lavatera - An elegant, easily grown plant that produces hibiscus-shaped flowers 2 to 3 inches across in white, pink and deep rose with dark green, leathery leaves. Not needing support, they are suitable for edges along driveways and fences in full sun, as they like hot areas. When first starting to grow constant moisture is needed, but when 8 to 10 inches tall they can sustain themselves.

Larkspur or Annual Delphinium - These have flower stalks that reach 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall, in pink, white and purple flowers with very bright, deeply-cut green leaves. They are suitable for cutting and drying upside-down for dried flower arrangements, yet the white will not stay true to colour and will turn off-white. Sow the seeds for these in late May or early June for blossoms 10 weeks later, by scattering them lightly in well drained soil.

Poppies - There is nothing that symbolizes summer more, than poppies in bloom with their fragile petals moving slightly in a breeze. Flowers only last a day or two, but if deadheaded regularly new flowers will take their place in the glory. The types available can be mind-boggling, but the choices can be scaled down by their varying characteristics of blossom and leaf colours, single or double blossoms and heights. Poppies are easy to grow; simply sprinkle the fine seed on top of pre-moistened soil. Many will need the light to germinate. Keep the soil moist by misting with a spray bottle. Thin to 2 to 4 inches apart when 2 to 3 inches tall, and do not bother trying to transplant them, because poppies don't like it. Poppies like well-drained soil in full sun and can be grown in very poor soil. The addition of the "Danish Flag" Poppy will make it into my garden this year. The leaves are grey-green and flowers rise from the center in a ruby-red with a black center. The unique feature of this single-petalled flower is the wide white cross in the center. Additions of old-fashioned annuals to every garden is, simply put - easy to do. Try some this year in yours, to make a bold splash of colour.

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