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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.