Notes on Annual Plant Descriptions
Detail information addressing 50 types of annuals and how to use them in your garden. Did you know some annuals are hardier than others? Our notes for each plant states the difference from hardy annual to hardy hardy annual.
H.A. Indicates that the plant is best raised as a hardy annual by seed sown in the open ground in the spring, or in some instances in the fall. This is stated where applicable. Such hardy annuals will withstand a normal winter in the open ground and will provide an earlier display than spring-sown seed.
H.H.A. Denotes a half-hardy annual which is a plant that is liable to damage by spring frost or maybe withered by perishing winds in the young stage. Such plants are raised from seed sown under glass in a temperature of about 6o°F (15°C), either in a greenhouse or in an electrically heated propagating frame.
H.B. Indicates a hardy biennial that takes two years to flower from seed and then dies. The seed is usually sown in the open ground in the early summer, the seedlings later being transplanted in rows to grow on, before being moved to their flowering positions in the fall or early spring.
H.H.P. This refers to a half-hardy perennial plant which may live for a number of years but requires the protection of a frost-free greenhouse during the winter. Such plants are often used for summer bedding displays; sometimes exceptionally good plants are increased by cuttings.
Adonis H.A., 1 – 1 ½ ft. Easily grown from seed sown in the spring in a sunny position, A. aestivalis bears small crimson flowers in June and July. The deep green, finely-cut leaves are also attractive.
Ageratum H.H.A., 6-18 in. This is a popular bedding plant with masses of fluffy little powder-puff-like flowers from July until fall frosts. The long-lasting flowers are mainly in shades of blue and retain their color without fading. Sow under glass in February or March and plant out in a sunny bed, window-box or another container towards the end of May. Dwarf kinds also make neat plants when grown in pots to flower in a cool greenhouse. Suitable varieties are ‘Blue Mink’, 6 in., powder blue; ‘Blue Color’, 6 in., mid-blue, early flowering; ‘Fairy Pink’, 6 in., pale pink. There are also white varieties. A. mexicanum has soft lavender-blue flowers on 18 in. stems.
Agrostemma (corn cockle) H.A., 1 ½-2 ft. Magenta-red single flowers are borne on slender stems freely throughout the summer. A more decorative variety Milas’ has large rosy-lilac flowers with conspicuous dark lines along each petal. The long, stiff stems make it useful as a cut flower as well as for the border. Seed may be sown in the open ground in the fall or in the spring for later flowering.
Alonsoa (mask flower) H.H.A., 1-1 ½ ft. These South American plants thrive in rich soil and in a sunny position. The showiest is A. warscewiczii, with bright scarlet flowers. There is also a dwarf form known as compacta’, admirable as a pot plant for a cool greenhouse, where it is perennial. Sow in February or March under glass, at a temperature of 6o°F ( 6°C), and plant out in May for a summer display.
Althaea (hollyhock) H.B., 4-5 ft. Easily raised from seed, the hollyhock may prove perennial but is not long-lived. Sow the seed in the open ground in May or June and transplant the seedlings to grow on, before putting them in their flowering sites in the fall or
early spring to flower in July and August. There are single and double varieties in shades of crimson, pink, yellow, and white. There is also an annual form that should be sown outside in April to flower from July onwards.
Alyssum (sweet alyssum) H.A., 4 in. A popular plant for edging, A. maritimum grows well in paving and window boxes. It flowers freely throughout the summer and early fall and is easily raised from seed sown where it is to flower. Or seed may be sown under glass and the seedlings planted out about mid-May when the danger of frost should be passed. The little heads of the flower are sweetly fragrant. Recommended varieties include ‘Carpet of Snow’, white flowers; `Rosie 0′ Day’, deep rose-pink; ‘Royal Carpet’, violet-purple; ‘Violet Queen’, bright violet-purple.
Amaranthus (love-lies-bleeding) H.A., 3 ft. The long pendent tassels of crimson flowers are a curious sight from July to September. A. caudatus Viridis’ has long greenish-yellow tassels. Sow in the open ground in April in well-drained soil and in a sunny position. It requires plenty of moisture during the growing season. In exposed districts it is best treated as a half-hardy plant. People either like it or it gives them the creeps.
Anagallis (pimpernel) H.H.A., 6-12 in. Seed of A. linifolia sown in the open in late May in well-drained soil on a rock garden or warm border will provide brilliantly colored flowers from July to September. Mixed packets will provide shades of scarlet and blue, or separate colors are available.
Antirrhinum (snapdragon) H.H.A., 9 in.-3 ft. These long-flowering plants are usually treated as annuals although in mild districts they are short-lived perennials. For bedding purposes, the seed is sown in flats or pots in a warm greenhouse in February or March. Sturdy plants should be ready for planting out in a sunny bed by mid-May. Seed may be sown in the open ground in April or May for flowering in late summer, but these cannot be compared with plants raised under glass. The range of color includes crimson, pink, orange-scarlet, yellow and white, and many subtle variations. The dwarf varieties are admirable for the front of a border or for window boxes and the taller varieties are useful for cut flowers. There is also a good selection of rust-resistant hybrids, which are advised where this disease is prevalent.
Arctotis H.H.A., 1-2 ft. These South African plants with daisy-like flowers require well-drained soil and full sun. They are perennial in their native conditions but are easily raised from seed sown under glass in March at a temperature of 65°F (I 8°C). Harden off the seedlings before planting out in mid-May. The silvery-white flowers of A. grandis, 2 ft., have a mauve center and a golden band. Young plants should be pinched back when about 6 in. high to encourage bushy growth.
Asperula (woodruff) H.A., 1 ½ ft. A useful little plant for edging or for filling a gap at the front of a border. A native of Syria, A. orientalis is an easily grown plant producing fragrant, lavender-blue flowers from July onwards. It is of branching habit and is useful for miniature floral arrangements. It enjoys a moist soil and partial shade and should be sown in May where it is to flower.
Bellis (double English daisy) Fix., 6 in. Bellis perennis Monstrosa Flore Pleno’ is a hardy perennial but is usually raised from seed sown in the open ground in early summer and transplanted to flowering positions in the fall. In colder areas, plants should be planted in protected cold frames in the fall and transferred to the open ground in spring. The button-like flowers are in shades of crimson to rose and white and are effective among other spring bedding plants and tulips.
Brachycome (Swan River daisy) H.H.A., 9-12 in. In sheltered gardens B. iberidifolia a little Australian plant may be treated as a hardy annual, but it is usually sown under glass in March and planted out in May. Easily grown in a dry, sunny position, it flowers throughout the summer until the fall frosts. The star-like flowers are blue or white with a dark disk. As a pot plant it will flower for weeks in a cool greenhouse.
Calandrinia (rock purslane) H.H.A., 6 in. C. umbellata is a sun-loving plant from Peru which thrives on a rock garden ledge or on the top of a drywall. The brilliant magenta-crimson flowers are borne in clusters from July to September but do not open in dull weather. Sow the seed in April and May and thin the seedlings to 6 in. apart.
Calceolaria H.H.A., 1- 1 ½ ft. The dust-like seed of the pale yellow C. scabiosaefolia is sown under glass in early spring and after hardening off the young plants are put out when the danger of frost is over. In a sunny position or in the dappled shade they flower from July to September.
Calendula (pot or garden marigold) H.A., 1 ½-2 ft. These showy plants derived from C. officinalis are among the hardiest and easiest to grow in almost any soil and in full sun. They flower continuously throughout the summer and the fall. Particularly in light soil, they seed themselves happily but modern varieties tend to deteriorate quickly when grown in this way. Sow in spring or the fall in milder areas where they are to flower. Young seedlings may be transplanted with success. There are numerous named varieties, many of American origin (F1 hybrids), where they are known as the friendship flower. To get the best results to purchase fresh seed each year. Good varieties include: ‘First Lady’, bright yellow, compact; ‘Flame Beauty’, deep orange; ‘Golden Beauty’, gold; ‘Lemon Beauty’, lemon-yellow; `Radio’, bright orange, ball-shaped flowers with quilled petals.
Callistephus (China aster) H.H.A., 1-2½ ft. The diverse and colorful modern asters have been developed from C. chinenis but some seedsmen find they are better known as asters -not to be confused with the perennial Michaelmas daisies. Seed should be sown in a cool greenhouse in March or April, or in warmer areas in the open ground in early May. There are both double and single flowers and the color range is all-embracing. Seedlings transplant quite readily when small. Grown en masse they make a splendid show in late summer and early fall. The short-growing varieties make bushy, decorative plants in window boxes. ‘Ostrich Plume’, and ‘Princess’, both 2 ft., are admirable for cutting.
Campanula (Canterbury bell) H.B., 2½-3 ft. An old favorite among gardeners, C. medium in shades of deep blue, lavender, deep pink and white is admirable in a mixed border in good soil and a sunny position. The cup and saucer varieties with large bell-like flowers and a saucer, or calyx, of the same color, are among the most popular. Sow the seed in the open in May or June, covering it very lightly with fine soil, and plant out in the flowering position in early fall. They will flower the following June to August. Where winters are severe the plants should be transferred to frost-proof frames until the spring.
Celosia (cockscomb) H.H.A., 2 ft. The feathered forms of C. argentea cristata bear brilliant pyramidal plumes from July to September. The colors include shades of crimson, scarlet, orange, and yellow and are seen to best effect with green foliage plants. Sow seed in a warm greenhouse in March, pot the seedlings individually, and plant out in the open when the danger of frost is past. They thrive in well-drained, light soil, and in full sun. Seeds may also be sown outside in spring where the plants are to flower. They also make decorative pot plants in a greenhouse for summer display.
Centaurea (cornflower, sweet sultan) H.A., 1-3 ft. The bright blue flowers of the cornflower, C. cyanus, are borne on tall stems and there are also pale blue, lilac, pink and white varieties, as well as dwarf varieties not exceeding i ft. in height. All are easily raised from seed sown from March to May, or in September in warmer areas, in a sunny position and in reasonably well-drained soil. The taller varieties are excellent for cutting. C. moschata (the sweet sultan) H.A., r z ft. is another popular annual with fragrant, fluffy heads of flower larger than those of cornflower, pale lilac in color. There are giant varieties in shades of mauve, purple, rose, yellow and white. The flowers are most useful for cutting and will last many days in water if cut young. Sow as for cornflower. Both do well on soil containing lime.
Cheiranthus (wallflower) H.B., 15 in. C. x allionii, is the Siberian wallflower with bright orange flowers in April and May. ‘Golden Bedder’ is a more mellow golden-yellow variety. The common wallflower, C. cheiri, II- ft. is perennial in milder parts of the country, but both these wallflowers are best treated as a biennial and sown in an open seed bed in May, or mid-June for the Siberian wallflower, and transplanted to flowering positions in October. Plants should be over-wintered in frost-proof frames where the winters are colder. The fragrance of wallflowers on a warm sunny day is glorious and they associate happily with tulips, forget-me-nots and polyanthus. The range of color is splendid-blood red, scarlet, purple, pink, yellow, ivory white.
Chrysanthemum H.A., 1-3 ft. C. carinatum (tricolor chrysanthemum), 1 ½-2 ft. C. coronarium (crown daisy) 2-3 ft. C. segetum (corn chrysanthemum) 1 ½ ft. There are many varieties of annual chrysanthemums, single and double. All have daisy-like flowers on good stems and often have rings or zones of color on white or cream petals. Among the best hardy annuals for summer flowering, they make excellent cut flowers. Seed should be sown in April in the open in a sunny position where they are to flower or in September for an early display the next year in milder areas. They do not transplant readily, so it is a waste of time to plant out thinnings. They are not fussy about soil provided it is not excessively wet.
Clarkia H.A. 2 ft. Double-flowered C. el egans hybrids are deservedly popular; their slender spikes bear numerous flower heads in shades of salmon-pink, carmine, rosy-purple and white. They are also most decorative as cut flowers. Sow in the open where they are to flower in March and April, or, in milder parts of the country in September to flower the following May and June. Clarkia does best in a light soil and will not tolerate heavy, wet soil. It is wise to support young plants with light twigs as they are liable to be broken off at ground level in a summer gale. For a spring display in a cold greenhouse sow the seed under glass in the fall.
Cleome (spider flower) H.H.A., 3-4 ft. The large, airy flower trusses are an attractive pinky-mauve and borne erect on rigid, thorny stems from July to September. The plants are most effective when grown in bold clumps in the border. Sow the seed in March in a warm greenhouse and plant out in May in rich, well-drained soil. They can also be sown directly outside where they are to flower. These fast-growing plants require ample moisture. ‘Pink Queen’ is an attractive apple-blossom pink; there is also a pure white variety.
Cobaea (cup and saucer plant) H.H.A., 10-20 ft. A vigorous Mexican twiner C. scandens bears large Canterbury bell-like flowers from July onwards on a warm wall. The flowers open green, becoming violet-purple. In a cool greenhouse it is perennial but requires ample space to spread. There is also a white variety. Soak the large seeds in water for a few hours before sowing and place them on their sides in the soil, not flat. Sow under glass in March and pot on, planting out in early June. Where the weather is warmer seeds may be sown directly outside.
Coleus H.H.P., 3 ft. These are ornamental foliage plants with attractive leaves in shades of green, copper, red and apricot, making them conspicuous for greenhouse or room decoration. They may also be planted outdoors in a sunny border as summer bedding plants. Sow seed of C. blumei or named hybrids in February under glass in a temperature of 75°F (24°C) and grow on without a check to obtain strong, showy plants. Particularly striking varieties may be perpetuated by taking cuttings, 3 in. long, of nonflowering shoots in August or March.
Collinsia H.A., 1 ft. The Pagoda collinsia is an attractive plant with white upper lip and lilac lower lip, ‘Salmon Beauty’ is a free-flowering delicate salmon-rose. It is a useful plant for partial shade, or for a woodland garden. Sow in the open ground in March or April, or in milder areas in September.
Convolvulus H.A., 12-15 in. C. tricolor (syn. C. minor) is a bushy plant and is not to be confused with the climbing convolvulus. It has large, funnel-shaped deep blue, yellow and white flowers throughout the summer and is easily grown in poor soil and in full sun. Sow in March or April where it is to flower.
Coreopsis (tickseed) H.A., 1-2 ½ ft. Sometimes listed erroneously in catalogs as calliopsis, this is easily grown even in poor soil. Plants bear large, broad-petalled flowers on slender stems from July to September, in shades of yellow, brown and crimson with pleasing markings in contrasting colors. Coreopsis are readily raised from seed sown in the open in a sunny position in April, or under glass in March for earlier flowering.
Cosmos (cosmea) H.H.A., 2-3 ft. This is a most decorative plant with fern-like foliage and large, single or semi-double, daisy-form flowers on slender but wiry stems which make it useful for cutting from July to October. The color range includes orange, yellow, deep rose to brilliant vermilion, red and white. Sow the seed under glass in February and March in a temperature of 60°F (16°C). Prick out the seedlings and plant out in May in light, well-drained soil and in full sun.
Cynoglossum (hound’s tongue) H.H.A., I4 ft. Although strictly biennial, C. amabile is usually grown as an annual, either sown under glass in March and planted out in May, or sown in the open in April for flowering in late summer. The fine seed should be sown thinly. The blue-green downy foliage and turquoise-blue drooping flowers, like large forget-me-nots, are charming. Plant in a moderately rich, well-drained soil and sun or dappled shade.
Dahlia H.H.A., 1 ½-2 ft. Bedding varieties of dahlias are often treated as annuals as they are readily raised from seed. Sow the seed thinly in flats in February and March. In a warm greenhouse it should germinate within ten days. When they are large enough prick out the seedlings or pot them individually. Plant out in mid-May in a sunny position and in a fertile soil. Dahlias require ample moisture during the growing season. Any outstanding plants should be lifted in the fall after the first frost, and after the tubers have been washed and dried they should be stored in a frost-free place for the winter. They may be planted out the following spring and will start to flower in July. Or they can be put in a warm greenhouse in April to produce cuttings.
Delphinium (larkspur) H.A., 1 ½-3 ft. Seed of annual delphiniums sown in March or April will produce flowering plants by about mid-July. Seedlings do not transplant well, therefore sow where the plants are to flower. For earlier flowering sow in the open in the fall. The color range includes shades of pink, lavender, mauve, rosy-scarlet and white and there are dwarf varieties (rift.). The 3 ft. tall kinds with branching stock-flowered spikes are admirable for cutting.
Dianthus (pinks) H.H.A., 9-18 in. Seed of the annual varieties of carnations and pinks, such as Chabaud carnations (D. caryophyllus) and the Japanese pink (D. chinensis `Heddewigii) and others should be sown thinly in pots and lightly covered with sifted soil. Do this in February or March and place the pots in a warm greenhouse where germination should be evident in a week or ten days. Prick out the seedlings into boxes when they are large enough to handle and harden off before planting out in May in well-drained soil and a sunny position. A great many varieties of dianthus will be found listed in seed catalogs, including D. barbatus, the sweet William, H.B., 6-18 in., obtainable in a glorious color range. Sow in May or June; when 3 in. high transplant to nursery rows then to their flowering positions in October. Where winters are severe move the plants to cold frames and plant out in spring.
Digitalis (foxglove) H.B., 4-5 ft. The common foxglove (D. purpurea) makes a delightful picture in a woodland setting in partial shade -in cooler parts of the country. The color range includes deep pink, purple, cream and white. There are several excellent strains; ‘Excelsior Hybrids’, with flowers carried horizontally all round the stem, revealing the beautiful markings within the
florets and ‘The Shirley’, are of outstanding beauty. Sow seed in the open ground from May to July and move to nursery rows when large enough to handle. Move plants to their flowering positions in the fall.
Dimorphotheca (star of the veldt) H.H.A.,1 ½ ft. D. aurantiaca, a South African plant revels in a sunny position where it produces a succession of large, showy daisy-like flowers. In dull weather the flowers remain closed. It thrives in a light soil. Sow outside where plants are to flower in spring. In colder districts sow under glass in March and plant out in May. Colors include salmon, apricot, buff, orange with greenish-black center and the large ‘Glistening White’ of spreading habit 6-9 in. high.
Eccremocarpus (Chilean glory flower) H.H.A., 8-10 ft. E. scaber is a fast-growing, deciduous, climbing plant. In mild districts it is perennial and will seed itself happily. Sow under glass in March and plant out against a warm, sunny wall or fence when all risk of frost is past. The clusters of orange-scarlet, yellow-tipped tubular flowers are freely produced throughout the summer and fall.
Echium (viper’s bugloss) H.A., 1 ½ ft.
Compact little plants for the front ofa border, echium hybrids bear many bell-like flowers in shades of blue, lavender, pink and white. They do well in poor, dry soil and in a sunny position. The cheerful heads of flowers withstand wind and rain remarkably well. ‘Blue Bedder’, bright blue, flowers from July to September and there are also good dwarf mixed hybrids.
Eschscholzia (Californian poppy) H.A., 1 – 1 1/2ft. These gay little poppies are easily raised from seed; in fact they seed themselves happily without being a nuisance. There are many varieties of E. californica, single, semi-double and double, in shades of yellow, orange, copper, carmine and ivory. For a hot, sunny bed there are few annuals of equal merit.
Felicia (kingfisher daisy) H.H.A., 4-6 in. Almost creeping in habit, F. bergeriana, is decorative on the rock garden or the front of a sunny border in light soil. Sow under glass in March and plant out in the open in early May, or outside where they are to flower. A profusion of small intense blue flowers is produced from June onwards. In dull weather the flowers open only partially to reveal the yellow center.
Gaillardia (blanket flower) H.H.A., 1 ½ ft. Perhaps not so well known as the perennial gaillardia, the annual G. pukhella has gay crimson-purple flowers tipped with yellow from July to October. The stiff, wiry stems make them useful for cutting. ‘Indian Chief’ is a striking copper-scarlet. Sow under glass in gentle heat in March, or in the open ground in April where plants are to flower. Choose a sunny position and well-drained soil.
Gazania (treasure flower) H.H.A., 6-9 in. These sun-loving, broad-petalled, daisies from South Africa are popular in dry areas. They are easily raised from seed sown under glass in a moderate temperature in March. Seedlings should be planted out in mid-May in full sun and a light soil. The modern
hybrids are in shades of yellow, orange, brown, pink and ruby. The markings and zones of contrasting colors in the center of the flowers add considerably to their beauty.
Gilia H.A., 1 ½ ft. The blue, pincushion-like flowers and fern-like foliage of G. capitata are a delight from June to September. The dainty heads of G. tricolor (bird’s eye) are in shades of lavender, pink and white with gold throat. G. hybrida (Leptosiphon) do not exceed 6 in. in height and are decorative on the rock garden or between flagstones in a
path. The small, star-like flowers are in a wide color range. Sow in spring in light, well-drained soil and a sunny position where the plants are to flower.
Godetia H.A., 1 ½-2½– ft. Gay plants with big, colored cups, these are among the most popular of hardy annuals where summers are not too hot. There are dwarf and tall varieties, double and single, in shades of pink, mauve, salmon and white. The tall kinds make graceful cut flowers. Sow in March or April where they are to flower as seedlings do not transplant readily. They like a sunny position and a light soil.
Gypsophila (baby’s breath) H.A., 1 ½ft. The annual varieties are fast growing and when sown in the open in April will flower from June onwards. To ensure a continuity of flower sow at intervals of two or three weeks. Seed may also be sown in the fall for spring flowering in milder districts. G. elegans produces slender stems bearing dainty white flowers and Rosea’ has pink flowers. They • thrive in any good garden soil, preferably chalky. The flowers are admirable when used in arrangements with sweet peas, or to mask the stiffness of gladioli.
Helianthus (sunflower) H.A., 3-7 ft., or more. The giant sunflowers are useful for providing a quick screen and the seeds in the plate-like golden-yellow heads are a great attraction to birds in the fall, but there are other sunflowers of greater garden merit and of more reasonable height. Seed should be sown in the open in spring or in flats under glass and seedlings planted out in mid-May. They like plenty of sun and are not fussy about soil. Mammoth Russian is the largest of all with huge single yellow blooms, Italian white with dark centers and primrose petals.
Helichrysum (everlasting flower) H.H.A., 1 ½-3 ft. The Australian helichrysums are the best known of the so-called everlastings. They are decorative in the garden in full sun and in a light soil and when cut and dried they are welcome for winter arrangements. The double form Monstrosum’ of H. bracteatum has a popular range of color—crimson, rose, silvery-pink, bronze and white. There are similar colors in dwarf, compact varieties which make bushy plants for the front of the border.
Helipterum H.A., 1-4 ft. These Australian everlastings’ are easily raised from seed sown in April where they are to flower. They do best in poor, well-drained soil and in full sun. The neat globular pink flowers are pleasing and there are also double pink and double white varieties.
Heliotropium (cherry pie, heliotrope) H.H.P., 15-24 in. These fragrant evergreen plants are really greenhouse perennials but hybrid varieties may be treated as half-hardy annuals. When sown in February in pots without a check, they can be planted out towards the end of May and will flower in the open from July onwards. The colors range from dark violet to lavender and white. `Marine’ is a splendid violet-purple ; `Marguerite’ is dark blue with a white eye.
Iberis (candytuft) H.A., 6-15 in. I. amara, the rocket or giant-flowered candytuft, and I. umbellate, the common candytuft are most effective when sown in bold masses, but this does not mean sowing thickly. Sow in the open ground in September in milder areas for early flowering the following summer, or in March or April for flowering the same summer. Candytufts do best in moist, rich soil. The dwarf varieties are useful for edging and are obtainable in shades of lilac, rose and white.
Impatiens (balsam) H.H.A., 1-2 ft. The original species (I. balsamina) from which the camellia-flowered and other hybrids have been raised comes from India, therefore do not attempt to plant out while there is still a danger of late frost. Sow the seed in March in a warm greenhouse, or outside where the climate is milder. The dwarf and double varieties make attractive pot plants. The color range includes pink, salmon, scarlet and white.
Ipomoea (morning glory) H.H.A., 8 ft. or more. This free-flowering twiner is usually cataloged as I. rubrocaerulea, although the correct botanical name is I. tricolor; to many people it is convolvulus. Call it what you will the large sky-blue trumpets, 4 in. across, are a magnificent sight from July to September. Germination can be erratic, but it helps if the hard seed cover is carefully chipped with a sharp knife. It is worth taking a little trouble with this spectacular plant. Sow the seeds singly in small pots in a warm greenhouse in March and plant out in a warm sheltered place and in well-drained soil in late May, or outside in the spot where the plants are to flower.
Kentranthus (often spelt centranthus) (valerian) H.A., 1 – 1 1/2 ft. K. macrosiphon is easily raised from seed sown where it is to flower in a dry sunny position in spring. Blooms are produced from June to August. The gray-blue leaves and bright rose-pink, tubular flowers make this a showy plant.
Kochia (summer cypress, fire-bush) H.H.A., 3 ft. This neat, fast-growing foliage plant is burdened with the name K. scoparia tricophila. The finely-cut light green leaves turn coppery-red in the fall, hence the name fire-bush. Sow the seeds singly in small pots, or three seeds in a 31 in. pot under glass in April, later thinning to one plant. Plant out in the open in late May. The little seedlings should be watered carefully in the early stages as they are likely to damp off.
Lathyrus (sweet pea) H.A., 1-8 ft. These fast-growing plants, derived from L. od oratus, make deep roots and therefore require a deeply dug, fertile, sunny site. They do not like excessive heat and grow better in cooler parts of the country. In milder areas the best results can be obtained by sowing the seed in pots or flats in the fall. To obtain the best results sow the seed in pots or flats in the fall and over-winter them in a cold frame (beware of mice). Plant them out in the open in mid-March or early April. They should start to flower in June and, provided fading flowers are removed, will continue in flower for a couple of months or so. Seed can also be sown in the open ground as soon as the weather is suitable in spring. When planting out space the seedlings r ft. apart in the row and not less than r ft. between the rows. It is usual to have double rows growing up brushwood stakes, or they can be grown up tripods, or on netting firmly supported by strong metal posts, which may be used year after year. Seed catalogs list many fine modern hybrids in a diversity of color and height, including ‘Bijou’ (1 ft.), `Knee-hi’ (3-4 ft.) and the early-flowering `Galaxy’ strain, tall, and often producing eight flowers to each long stem. See also Favorite Garden Flowers.
Lavatera (mallow) H.A., 3-4 ft. Easily grown, the annual mallow, L. trimestris, has hollyhock-like flowers throughout the summer. Sow the seed sparsely, in March and April, where it is to flower, in a sunny position. ‘Loveliness’ is the best bright carmine-rose and there is also a pure white variety. Allow these plants adequate space for under good cultivation they may reach a height of 4 ft. and make a bush 3 ft. wide. Limnanthes (meadow-foam) H.A., 6 in. Sow the seed of L. douglasii in an open sunny position in September, where it is to flower the following spring in mild localities, or in March to mid-May for later flowering. This cheerful little plant of spreading habit has shiny green leaves and bright yellow, fragrant, flowers, white at the tips, much loved by bees.
Linaria (toadflax) H.A., q in. Sow the seed of L. maroccana thinly in the open ground in March or April to obtain a display of snapdragon-like flowers from June to September. `Fairy Bouquet’ is of compact habit in shades of pink, yellow, lavender and salmon, with large flowers that last well when cut. Linum (flax) H.A., 15 in. Sown in bold clumps in the open in a sunny position in spring, the scarlet flax, L. grandiflorum ‘Rub-rum’, is a most effective summer-flowering annual. The common flax, L. usitatissimum, with pale blue flowers on slender stems is also delightful.
Lobelia H.H.A., 4-6 in. also trailing varieties. Seed of L. erinus and its varieties, is very small and it is easy to sow it too thickly, which means that it will damp off. Sow in pots containing a sandy compost, only lightly covering the seed with sifted soil. This should be done in February or early March in a warm greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings about a month later; these should become bushy plants ready to plant out towards the end of May. The trailing varieties are useful for window-boxes and hanging baskets but require ample and regular watering. Varieties are available in shades of blue; ‘Rosamond’ is deep carmine-red with a white eye, and there is a pure white variety.
Matthiola (night-scented stock) H.A., r ft. Sow seeds of M. bicornis in March or April where plants are to flower during the summer. The lilac-mauve flowers open in the evening and the fragrance on a warm summer night is delightful. Sown with candytuft there will be color by day and scent by night.
M. incana (ten-week stocks) H.H.A., r ft. Sow seed thinly under glass in March and prick out the seedlings when large enough to handle. Give the plants plenty of light and air and plant out r ft. apart where they are to flower when they have made bushy growth. The color range is all embracing. In milder areas seed may be sown in borders where the plants are to flower.
M. incana (East Lothian or intermediate stocks) H.H.A., fl ft. Sow under glass in February or early March, otherwise treat as for ten-week stocks. East Lothian stocks are vigoros, branching plants flowering in late summer and fall. In milder parts of the country the East Lothians can be grown as biennials but are usually treated as half-hardy annuals. They are available in crimson, scarlet, rose, lavender, white, or in packets of mixed colors. M. incana cannot be recommended for areas where the summers are warm and humid.
Mentzelia H.A., 2 ft. M. lindleyi may still be found in some seed catalogs listed as Bartonia aurea. Sown in the open ground in March or April, in a sunny position, this easily-grown plant will flower from June onwards. The large, single golden flowers have an attractive mass of golden stamens. Mesembryanthemum (Fig marigold) H.H.A., 6 in. Of South African origin, this annual, almost always sold under the name mesembryanthemum, but correctly known as Dorotheanthus bellidifiorus, requires the maximum sun and a rather dry soil. Of spreading habit it is most decorative trailing over a dry wall or growing in crazy paving. Sow under glass in March or April and plant out in May. Seed may also be sown directly outdoors where the plants are to flower. The star-like flowers are in a wide range of brilliant colors.
Mimulus (monkey flower) H.H.A., 6 in.-2 ft. Many mimulus are treated as half-hardy annuals although they may prove to be short-lived perennials. By sowing the seed under glass in March these quick-growing, moisture-loving plants will flower in the open in June and July. Seed sown in the open in partial shade in April will provide a later batch of color. The seeds are very tiny and should only be lightly covered with sifted soil. The large trumpet-shaped flowers are in shades of red and yellow with attractive markings and blotches.
Moluccella (bells of Ireland) H.H.A., 2 ft. Germination of seed of M. laevis is unpredictable; sown under glass in March or April in a temperature of 65°F (18°C) germination may be satisfactory, and on other occasions it may germinate in the open in early May, provided the soil is light and warm. The little white flowers are insignificant; it is the large pale green, white-netted calyces that are so unusual and a delight to flower arrangers. The flowers may be dried for use in winter.
Myosotis (forget-me-not) H.B., 6-12 in. These are easily raised from seed sown in the open ground in June. Transplant the seedlings when they are large enough to handle into the open ground or cold frames and plant them out in the fall where they are to flower, or plant them out in the spring. They are admirable when planted with tulips, wallflowers or polyanthus. They will grow in sun or partial shade and seed themselves happily. There are named varieties in several shades of blue and carmine-pink, and also white.
Nemesia H.H.A., 8-12 in. Free-flowering little plants in a wide color range, the varieties of N. strumosa are among the brightest of the bedding plants. Sow the seed in mid-March in a cool greenhouse and grow them steadily without a check. Prick out the seedlings into flats and plant out in late May or early June. Be sure that the soil does not dry at any time. They may also be sown directly in their flowering positions when the danger of frost is over. For winter flowering under glass as pot plants sow the seed in August.
Nemophila (baby blue eyes) H.A., 6-8 in. N. menziesii is a useful spreading plant for moist conditions, in sun or partial shade. The feathery light green leaves and sky-blue flowers with a white eye make a cheerful picture for the front of a border or on a rock garden. Sow in the open in March or April, or, in warmer areas, in the fall. There is also a white-flowered form.
Nicotiana (tobacco plant) H.H.A., I4-21 ft. Fragrance is one of the chief attractions when the flowers usually open in the evening, although if grown in partial shade they often remain open all day. ‘Sensation’ is a strain with flowers of mixed colors that do remain open in daylight. ‘Lime Green’ has unusual greenish-yellow flowers, popular for floral arrangements. Sow under glass in a moderate temperature in March. Plant out, when the risk of frost is past, in rich moist soil which has been deeply dug. They flower from July to September. In milder parts of the country seeds may be sown outdoors as soon as the soil is suitable in spring.
Nierembergia H.H.A., 9 in. Although strictly a perennial, N. caerulea, from the Argentine, is usually treated as an annual and sown under glass in February or early March and planted out towards the end of May. The large, cup-shaped, lavender-blue flowers with an attractive yellow throat are freely produced from July to September. ‘Purple Robe’ is a selected form with deep violet-purple flowers, with golden anthers.
Nigella (love-in-a-mist) H.A., 1 ½ ft. N. damascena is a favorite among hardy annuals and is easily grown. Sow in the open in September in a well-drained soil and a sunny position for flowering from May onwards. Seed sown in March or April will provide a long season of flower. Seedlings do not transplant readily, therefore sow where it is to flower. ‘Miss Jekyll’, sky-blue with dainty feathery foliage is a fine variety; ‘Persian
Jewels’ is a pleasing mixture of pink, rosy-red, purple and mauve shades, also white.
Omphalodes (Venus’s navelwort) H.A., 91 ½ in. Resembling a forget-me-not, 0. linifolia, bears masses of pure white flowers and gray-green leaves on slender stems from June to August. Sow in spring or early fall in a light, well-drained soil where the plants are to flower. It is a decorative plant for the front of a border or on a rock garden.
Papaver (poppy) H.A., I1-2-1 ft. Easily raised from seed, the diverse annual poppies should be sown in August—September or March, April and May where they are to flower. Shirley poppies, derived from P rhoeas, may also be sown in September to flower from May onwards. From the opium poppy, P. somniferum, have been raised many varieties, including double paeony-flowered and double carnation-flowered in many different colors. ‘Pink Beauty’ is a handsome double flower that shows up well against its gray foliage.
Penstemon (beard tongue) H.H.A., 12 ft. Most penstemons are perennial but there is a hybrid race which is treated as an annual. In mild districts and in a well-drained soil they may survive the winter and start to flower earlier the following year. The elegant tubular flowers are borne on erect stems from July to September in mixed colors; pink, crimson, scarlet, mauve, white. Sow the seed under glass in March and plant out in a sunny place in May.
Petunia H.H.A., 9-15 in. Modern hybrid petunias are available in many different types ; large-flowered singles and doubles, compact bedding varieties, pendulous forms suitable for hanging baskets or window boxes, bicolors, self-colors, some with fringed and ruffled flowers. They are sun-loving plants, although some of the new varieties are colorful even in a poor summer. The vigorous F1 hybrids with large trumpet-shaped flowers of uniform color are outstanding. Sow the seed under glass in March and grow the seedlings on steadily without a check. Prick out in flats when large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse. Put them in a cold frame to harden off before planting out in late May or early June in a fairly light soil and full sun.
Phacelia (California bluebell) H.A., 9 in.- 2 ft. P. campanularia, 9 in. has large bell-shaped brilliant blue flowers and grayish-green, red-tinted leaves, which make it a most desirable little plant of neat habit. Sow in the spring, or fall where winters are less severe, in a light well-drained soil and a sunny position, where it is to flower from June onwards. P. tanacetifolia, 2 ft. is a hairy plant with crowded spikes of lavender-blue flowers and is often cultivated by bee-keepers.
Phlox H.H.A., 6-12 in. P. drummondii is a popular, free-flowering bedding plant in shades of pink, salmon, crimson, violet and purple, many with a striking white eye; there are also pure white varieties. The compact varieties are about 6 in. high and the `Grandiflora’ hybrids up to r ft. Sow the seed in gentle heat in March and plant out from mid-May onwards in a sunny position, to flower from July until early October. They can also be sown outside where weather conditions are milder. Keep the young plants well watered.
Portulaca (Purslane or sun plant) H.H.A., 6 in. The dwarf, spreading P. grandiflora from Brazil requires a hot, sunny position in light well-drained soil. Sow the seed in May where plants are to flower as seedlings do not transplant readily. Cover the seed lightly with fine soil and keep moist until established. Plants make an effective carpet from July onwards. They are usually offered in mixed colors — double and single—scarlet, deep pink, yellow and white.
Quamoclit H.H.A., 10 ft. Q. lobata is a fast-growing twining plant with bright crimson flowers that change to orange-yellow and fade to cream. Sow the seed in small pots in a heated greenhouse in March or early April and move into larger pots when seedlings are well rooted. Plant out when the danger of frost is past in rich, moist soil. Seed may also be sown outside where the plants are to flower.
Reseda (mignonette) H.A., 9-12 in. This is a plant of great charm and delicious fragrance. Sow the seed in light, well-drained soil, preferably containing lime, in April and May, where the plants are to flower. Germination is improved when the soil is made firm after sowing and the seed is only lightly covered with fine soil. By making two or more sowings a succession of flowers will be ensured. ‘Goliath’ bears large, very fragrant, reddish spikes.
Ricinus (castor oil plant, castor bean) H.H.A., 4-6 ft. A decorative foliage plant, R. cornmunis, has bronze-colored leaves up to 2 ft. across. The flowers are insignificant but the seed pods, covered with soft spines, contain large bean-like seeds from which castor oil is obtained. Sow the seed singly in small pots in March in a greenhouse with a temperature of 6o°F (16°C). Pot on the seedlings and plant out in June. Seed may also be planted outside when the soil is suitable. Plants thrive in rich, moist soil but will probably need staking.
Rudbeckia (coneflower) H.H.A., 2 ft. The gay annual rudbeckias are easily raised from seed sown under glass in March and planted out in May in a sunny position, or sown outside where they are to flower. They are not fussy about soil. Listed in seed catalogs under R. bicolor ‘Golden Flame’ is a golden-yellow with a dark centre and `Kelvedon Star’ is deep yellow with a brown central disk and mahogany zone.
Salpiglossis H.H.A., 2-3 ft. The elegant, trumpet-shaped flowers, many of which are beautifully veined, are in a brilliant range of Color. Sow the seed in a warm greenhouse in February or March. When large enough to handle prick out the seedlings singly into small pots and grow on steadily until they are ready to plant out in early June. They can also be sown outside when the danger of frost is past where they are to flower. They like a rich soil and a warm, sheltered border, and are admirable as pot plants in a cool greenhouse.
Salvia (sage) H.H.A., t-ti- ft. The vivid scarlet S. splendens, the scarlet sage, is a tender perennial usually treated as a half-hardy annual. Seed should be sown under glass in February or March in a temperature of about 68°F (20°C). When seedlings are large enough put them into pots singly and grow them on steadily, hardening them off before planting out in a sunny bed in late May or early June. S. horminum, H.A., i2 ft., should be sown in spring where it is to flower. `Blue Beard’ has attractive blue bracts.
Sanvitalia H.A., 6 in. Of prostrate habit S. procumbens. A Mexican plant, forms a carpet of small yellow flowers with a bold black center. There is also a bright yellow double form. Sow in the open where it is to flower in a sunny position and in a well-drained soil in late April or May. Or it may be sown under glass in March and planted out in May. Sowings can also be made outside in the fall where winters are less severe. Sown in a bold mass it can be most effective.
Scabiosa (sweet scabious) H.A., 11-3 ft. Sown in the open in April or May, also in the fall, the annual S. atropurpurea, or pincushion flower, will make a good show from August onwards. It can be brought into flower much earlier by sowing under glass in March and planting out in May in a sunny border. The taller varieties should be supported with light twigs in good time or they may be damaged by summer gales. They are available in mixed colors and are admirable for cutting.
Schizanthus (butterfly flower) H.H.A., 3 ft. Usually considered as highly decorative plants for the cool greenhouse, schizanthus hybrids may be also grown in the garden in a sunny position, sheltered as much as possible from wind. For this purpose sow the seed under glass in a warm greenhouse in March and plant out towards the end of May. There are several good strains, some with beautiful markings on the petals, in shades of salmon, apricot, pink, yellow, mauve and purple.
Senecio (groundsel) H.H.A., 9-18 in. A refined version of the common groundsel, S. elegans can be quite effective when grown in a bold group. Sow in the open ground in April or May in a sunny position. Seedlings will transplant if necessary. It is usually obtainable in mixed colors- bright rose, lavender, pink, white with yellow center, in both single and double.
Silene (catchfly) H.A., 9-18 in. From southern Europe S. armeria has attractive blue-green foliage and rose-pink clusters of single flowers on erect stems in summer. More widely grown is S. pendula, of compact habit, with double flowers on 6-9 in. stems in shades of salmon-pink, rosy-purple, ruby-red and white. Seeds should be sown outdoors in August; when large enough to handle, the seedlings should be transferred to nursery beds or cold frames, and planted out in spring.
Tagetes (African and French marigolds) H.H.A., 6 in.-3 ft. These are easily raised from seed sown thinly in a cool greenhouse towards the end of March and planted out in a sunny position at the end of May. Seed can also be sown outside in spring. T. erecta is the bold African marigold which makes a branching plant up to 3 ft. in height. There are many modern F1 hybrids in shades of yellow, orange and lemon. These are an improvement on the earlier rather harsh colors. There are also dwarf American hybrids (t ft.). Very different are the petite French marigolds which make compact plants of symmetrical habit from 6-9 in. high. There are single and double varieties in shades of palest yellow, orange, gold and mahogany-red some with dark foliage.
Tithonia H.H.A., 4 ft. A vigorous, branching plant, T. rotundifolia bears large, orange-red, broad-petalled flowers in August and September. Sow the seed in March under glass, pot the seedlings and plant out in a light soil and full sun towards the end of May. Later blooms can be had from seed sown directly outside when the soil has become warm in spring.
Tropaeolum (nasturtium) H.A., 9 in., trailing and climbing. T. majus varieties are easily grown provided simple rules are observed. Do not sow too early as the seedlings may be ruined by a late frost; poor soil is preferable to rich which will only encourage leaf growth to hide the flowers. Late April is time enough to sow where they are to flower. There are single, semi-double and double flowered varieties in shades of glowing scarlet, golden-yellow, cherry-rose, mahogany-red and mixed colors. T. peregrinum, the canary creeper, is an attractive climbing species to to ft. from Peru, bearing fringed golden-yellow flowers from July onwards. This likes a rich soil and should be sown in sun or shade in late April or May.
Ursinia HHA 9-15in Masses of daisy like flowers and graceful foliage make these showy South African plants a welcome addition to the summer display. Sow the seed under glass in March and plant out in mid May in full sun and in a light, well drained soil. Sowing can also be carried out in spring where the plants are to bloom. U. anethoides, 15 in., has large brilliant orange flowers with chestnut-red zone around the centre in July and August. U. pulchra, 9 in., suitable for the rock garden or front of the border, has rich orange flowers with a dark central zone. Several named varieties are obtainable, including ‘Aurora’, with a crimson-red center to the rich orange flowers, and ‘Golden Bedder’.
Venidium (Namaqualand daisy) H.H.A., 2 1/2ft. Another. sun-loving plant from South Africa, V. fastuosum, bears large orange flowers with a purple-black zone and shiny black center from July to September. Sow under glass in March and plant out in mid-May in a good loamy soil. Seed can also be sown directly in the border in May. Hybrids are available in pleasing shades of yellow, straw, orange and cream, their petals attractively blotched at the base with darker colors.
Verbena (vervain) H.H.A., 6-15 in. The hybrid verbenas are easily raised from seed sown in a warm greenhouse in February or March. Germination may be erratic and can be delayed for several weeks. Prick out into flats and after hardening off, plant out in a sunny position in May. The compact varieties are admirable for window boxes or for the front of a border. The 3 in. clusters of flowers are freely borne from June to September. The color range includes scarlet, rose, salmon, deep bule, lavender, some with a white eye, and white.
Viola (pansy, viola) HB 6-9 in. Violas usually have smaller flowers than pansies, often self colored, are of tufted habit and are best treated as hardy biennials. Sow both kinds in flats in a cold frame or outside in well prepared soil in July or August and keep the seedlings moist and shaded. When large enough to handle prick the seedlings out in rows outside or in cold frames. Where winters are less severe the plants may be transferred to their flowering positions in the fall. In colder areas delay moving the plants and protect them with a light covering of salt hay or evergreen branches. Cold frames should have the sash in position during frost. Do not let them dry out at any time. They like a rich moist soil, in sun or partial shade. Sowing can also be done in March or April in the open where they are to flower later the same year. There are numerous special strains, also winter-flowering varieties.
Viscaria H.A., 6-15 in. Annual viscarias, mainly varieties of V.oculata, are easily grown in ordinary garden soil. Seed should be sown in March or April where plants are to flower. They are free-flowering plants, effective en masse at the front of a border, with showy five-petal flowers in pink, scarlet, crimson, blue and white, or as mixed colors. They are also decorative as cool greenhouse pot plants.
Zinnia H.H.A., 9 in.-24 ft. Sow the seed in a warm greenhouse in April. There is nothing to be gained by sowing earlier as seedlings are liable to damp off during a cold spell. Prick out into flats when quite small, or singly into small pots. Harden off carefully in a cold frame before planting out in the full sun and in rich, well-drained soil in early June. Seed may also be sown outside where the plants are to flower as soon as the danger of frost is over. There is a diverse selection from giant flowered and giant dahlia flowered varieties up to 2 ½ high. Varieties to consider Lillipur, Pompon, Thumbelina. The range of color includes scarlet, pink, orange, lavender, yellow and white.
How to grow a annual flower from seed.
Where to plant Annuals and Biennials flowers
Annuals and Biennials for the Cool Greenhouse
How to use Annual and Biennial flowers
Growing Annual and Biennial plants