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Grow annuals for quick color This looks like a tough weed.

When you want lots of color quickly, flowers to cut by the armful and bloom all summer, you want annuals. For earliest possible bloom, sow seeds indoors, then transplant-or buy started plants in May. But you'll still get plenty of flowers if you wait till the danger of frost is past and sow the seed of quick-growing varieties where you want the plants to grow outdoors.

Annuals will grow anywhere, in any kind of soil. You'll get the biggest, brightest flowers when your plants get direct sunlight for about half the day. And don't skimp on plant food and water if you want the best results.

To convince yourself you're both rich and lucky, try growing your own flowers from seed.

Annuals-zinnias, petunias, asters, marigolds, and the like-are your best bet for showy bloom you can enjoy within a matter of weeks. just do this

  • Choose a spot that gets sun for at least five hours a day.
  • Fork or spade the soil a good 8 inches deep; then pulverize and smooth it.
  • Because seedlings in rows are easier to identify than seeds sown broadcast, mark off rows according to the sizes of the seeds. Make inch-deep furrows for zinnias and nasturtiums, only half that deep for larkspur and cosmos. For petunias, sweet alyssum, and poppies, roughen soil a little; then sow by covering seeds with just a dusting of fine dry soil.
  • Water the rows before planting. Shade with folded newspapers, burlap, or a veil of grass clippings. Remove burlap and paper when the first green seedlings start humping up into the light.
  • Space your seedlings. You can thin by transplanting. Move enough seedlings so that each has room to develop. This is 12 to 20 inches for zinnias and the larger marigolds, as little as 8 inches apart for sweet alyssum, phlox, and portulaca.
  • Keep soil about the roots when shifting your plants. Settle in place with a cup apiece of water in which you've dissolved a good plant food, at the rate of 2 tablespoons to each gallon of water.

SNAPDRAGON

Uses: For cut flower or garden display
Colors: Almost full range
Height: Dwarf, 1 foot, others 18 inches
Final spacing:18 inches
When to sow: Earliest spring. (Sow inside for even earlier bloom)
Try these varieties: New Tetra varieties are very large, often ruffled, and on extra compact spikes
Hint: If you water carefully to keep leaves dry, rust isn't likely to attack your plants.

CALENDULA

Uses: Masses of bloom. Cut flowers
Colors: Orange or lemon, sometimes penciled with a deeper color
Height: Up to 2 feet
Final spacing: 12 to 15 inches
When to sow: As soon as soil can be prepared in spring
Try these varieties: Yellow Colossal (huge, clear yellow); Yellow shaggy (more informal); Orange Ball (vivid color)
Hint: Keep the fading flowers picked to lengthen flowering period.

CALIFORNIA POPPY

Uses: Mass color
Colors: Orange, creamy white, carmine, pink
Height: Up to 2 feet
Final spacing: 8 inches
When to sow: Early spring. (Or in fall)
Try these varieties: Sunbeam (erect, double orange flowers); Red Chief (single, deep red); Creamy Crinkles (apricot double); Ramona (golden bronze inside, coppery rose outside)
Hint: Unless moved with an unbroken ball of soil, plants do not transplant easily.

COSMOS

Uses: Background for annual beds and borders. Excellent cut flowers
Colors: Crimson, pink, white, yellow
Height: Usually 5 to 6, may reach 10 feet
Final spacing:: 18 inches
When to sow: Early spring
Try these varieties: Yellow Flare (golden); Orange Flare (golden orange); Radiance (rose with crimson center Sensation
Hint: Pinch out tips of shoots frequently to keep plants branchy and full of bloom.

PANSIES

Uses: Edging. Cut flowers
Colors: Almost every hue, blotched or pure
Height: 6 inches to 1 foot; climbers 18 inches or more
Final spacing: 12 to 18 inches
When to sow: Sow in August plants for early spring blooms. For bloom this spring, buy plants
Try these varieties: Oregon Giants, Swiss Giants, Canadian Giants
Hint: Don't allow pansies to go to seed; pick them every day.

PETUNIA

Uses: Profusion of bloom and mass color effects. Edginess window boxes
Colors: Rich purples, crimson, scarlet, all tones of rose and Oink, white, almost real yellow
Height: 1 foot to 18 inches
Final spacing: 1 foot; farther to bring out the charm of an individual plant
When to sow:- May or indoors in March
Try these varieties: Try the new all-doubles and such singles as Flaming Velvet, (mahogany-red), Cream Star (yellow); and Salmon Beauty (salmon-pink)
Hint:: Choose a sunny spot for maximum bloom.

PHLOX

Uses: Bedding or cut flowers
Colors: Scarlet, crimson, pole pink, deep yellow, white, amber
Height: Up to 18 inches. Plants tend to fall over and send out upright branches
Final spacing:: 12 inches
When to sow: Outdoors when danger from frost is post, or indoors in March
Try this variety: Tetra (largest Flowers)
Hint: Cut off old flowers to prolong bloom.

VERBENA

Uses: Borders; Flowers
Colors: Brilliant rose, palest blush, pure white, deep violet
Height: Verbatim trails over the ground, builds itself up to a height of about a foot
Final spacing: 12 to 18 inches
When to sow: In February in the house, or as early as you can take care of the plants. Seeds are slow to germinate
Try these varieties: Grow the large-flowered varieties. Moss verbatim is a good groundcover
Hint: Pinch plants when young so that shoots do not all grow in some direction.

Nasturtium

Uses:: Climbers, bedding plants or edging plants, depending on variety. All provide lots of color over long period
Colors: Gold, pale yellow, brilliant. scarlet
Height: Climbers, 12 feet, Gleams climb less rampantly; Tom Thumbs, 12 inches
Final spacing: 18 inches for Gleams, 12 inches for climbers and Tom Thumb varieties
When to sow: When soil warms in spring
Try these varieties: The Gleam varieties are favorites, but Golden Globe is one dwarf not to miss
Hint: Nasturtiums grow well in fairly poor soil. Rich soils produce too abundant foliage which hides the flowers and cuts down bloom.

MORNING-GLORY

Uses: To cover trellises and to hide unsightliness
Colors: All except yellow
Height:. 12 feet
Final spacing: 2 feet is close enough
When to sow: Wait for worm weather. Or sow in small pots indoors, transplant later. To hasten sprouting, soak seeds overnight in hot water or scratch seed coat slightly
Try these varieties: Heavenly Blue (clear blue); Pearly Gates (white); Scarlet O'Hara (red); Cornell (White, edged with carnelian red)
Hint:- Pull up older types that s elf-sow. They are weedy compared with new varieties.

NICOTIANA

Uses: Provides perfume for evening air
Colors: White, crimson, pink
Height: 3 Feet and up
Final spacing: 18 inches
When to sow: In April or when soil begins to warm
Try these varieties: Nicotiana aff inisis white and extra fragrant at night, but colored varieties are perhaps more beautiful
Hints: Plant in clumps toward back of border. Use as backgrounds for lower annuals such as larkspurs and zinnias.

SHIRLEY POPPIES

Uses: Mass color. Excellent cut flowers when cut in the bud stage
Colors: Scarlet crimson, lavender, pink, white. No blue, no yellow in annual poppies
Height: Shirley 18 inches
Final spacing: 8 inches
When to sow: Poppies are hardy annuals, may even be sown on snow. Sow in succession to extend blooming period. Don't transplant well
Try this variety: American Legion (orange scarlet)
Hint: When sowing poppy seed, mix the fine seed with sand to insure good distribution.

CORNFLOWER

Uses: Garden color. Unexcelled for cutting
Colors: Blue, red, pink, white. Doubles are superior
Height: 2 to 21/2 Feet
Final spacing: 6 to 12 inches
When to sow: Fall or early spring
Try these varieties: Jubilee (dwarf); Blue Boy (21/2 feet, favorite cornflower blue); Pinkie (21/2 feet, true pink); Snowman (21/2 feet, pure white)
Hint: Try cornflowers planted with calliopsis. The contrast of the blue with the gold is striking, Flowers of self-sown plants are usually inferior.

LARKSPUR

Uses: Slender spikes add vertical lines to your planting
Colors: Violet, purple, shell pink, white
Height: 2 feet and up
Final spacing: 8 inches, farther for ground-branching types
When to sow: Early in spring as possible. Don't transplant
Try these varieties: Dark Blue Wonder (velvety blue); Salmon Wonder (salmon-rose). Both branch from near the soil and bloom only a little later than some less desirable kinds
Hint: Try sowing some this fall to get earliest bloom in 1951. Larkspur grows best in cool weather.

SWEET ALYSSUM

Uses: Popular edging plant
Colors: White, purple
Height: 6 to 10 inches, sometimes trailing
Final spacing: 8 inches; 1 Foot or more for Violet Queen
When to sow:. As soon as soil can be worked in spring
Try these varieties:. Little Gem (very dwarf), Carpet of Snow (spreads wider), Violet Queen (practically the only edging plant of this color)
Hint: Clip back plants on one side when they become unsightly, then shear other side several weeks later.

ZINNIA

Uses:. Excellent cut flowers, lasting indoors as long as any annual. Hot-weather borders
Colors: Rose, yellow, crimson, scarlet
Height: 3 feet (dwarf varieties 18 inches)
Final spacing: 18 inches in borders, can be closer for cut flowers
When to sow: As soon as soil is warm; (can be sown, indoors in April)
Try these varieties: New Luther Burbank zinnias have pastel tones. Grow fantasy types where giants and dahlia-flowered blooms would look too heavy
Hint: Cut freely to encourage continuous bloom.

NIEREMBERGIA

Uses:Splendid for bedding and edging
Colors: White or pole violet
Height: 2 to 8 inches
Final spacing: 2 inches apart each way
When to sow: A perennial usually treated as an annual; sow indoors for summer blooming
Try these varieties: Coerulea Purple Robe (deep-violet flowers, compact growth); Nierembergia rivularis, whitecup, (Flowers cream-white, sometimes rose- or blue tinged)
Hints: Prefers sandy soil and sun. Combines well with dwarf marigolds.

Marigold

Uses: Flashy color in borders. Dwarf varieties ideal for edging
Colors: Orange, lemon, chestnut-red, often with dark centers
Height: Tall kinds may reach 4 feet. Dwarf varieties 6 inches to 18 inches
Final spacing: 1 foot for dwarfs; 2 feet for tall kinds
Try these varieties: Red Hood (new dworf, redder than most); Flash (18 inches high, in red and bronze tones), Yellow Pygmy (a good edger); Mammoth Mum (30 inches high, yellow blooms 3 inches across); Sunset Giants (3 to 4 feet, blooms big enough to brag about)
Hints:. Marigolds withstand heat; use them for sunny places.



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