With a small amount of forward planning it is easy to grow a supply of beautiful fresh flowers to cut for your home. Even if you don’t have a dedicated area it can be just as good to mix flowers into your existing borders or vegetable patch. In Patrick’s Patch, the rows of flowers are interspersed with the vegetables; they look great and attract pollinators and other beneficial wildlife.
HARDY ANNUALS (HA)
These flower and seed in one year. For summer displays they usually are sown directly in the soil in early April. Some are very robust, cornflowers for example and can be sown outside in September. These autumn sowings will flower earlier than spring sowings.
Annuals which flower in the early spring have to be sown the previous summer and planted out in September. Examples are: Forget-me-nots, Wall flowers and Sweet Williams.
Hardy annuals grow best on light soils; the seeds will not germinate well on wet, cold or heavy soils. Prepare the soil to a fine ‘tilth’ by gently raking. Make sure seedlings don’t dry out if the weather becomes hot and dry which often happens in the spring.
There is a huge range of hardy annuals to choose from (the seed packets will identify them as Hardy Annuals on the front of the packet)
TRY- Clary, Cornflowers, Cerinthe major var. Purpurescens, Larkspur, Statice, Sweet Williams.
HALF-HARDY ANNUALS (HHA)
These plants are frost sensitive so cannot be planted out until after the danger of frost has passed (usually mid-May). At the end of the season they will be killed by the first frosts.
They have to be sown in the greenhouse (or bought as young plants). Most HHA’s are best sown in mid-April and planted-out in mid-May. It is best not to sow too early as the plants can become straggly before it is time to plant-out.
TRY: Amaranthus, Cosmos, Zinnia, Coryopsis and Cleome
Sunflowers are HHA’s. We find more stable plants are grown by direct-sowing into the ground in mid-late April.
Sweet peas are mildly-frost sensitive but they do need to be sown earlier than other HHA’s. We start ours in the greenhouse in mid-February. The seedlings are pinched back (tips removed) when they have three sets of leaves and they are then acclimatised in cold frames until planting out in late April. If a late frost is predicted it is a good idea to cover the young plants with horticultural fleece.
Some perennials are very easy to grow from seed and will produce flowers in the first year. They will over-winter and provide more flowers for years to come.
Try – Aquilegia, Rudbeckia, Sweet Rocket, Alchemilla mollis and Echinacea
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