Annuals as Cut Flowers

Many annuals make excellent cut flowers, especially those classed as hardy. They like to be grown in a fairly sheltered sunny spot in well-drained soil. It is always important to get the ground prepared a month before sowing so as to allow the land to settle. Annu. Is may be sown in the spring from March till the end of April, depending on the season and the locality. It is always better where possible to sow in the autumn, say about the middle of September, and thus the plants live through the winter and flower two or three weeks earlier in the summer. Annuals fit just as easily into the standard scheme of bedding as advised for perennials. The rows will be 300 mm (1 ft) apart and the aim will be to thin the plants out to at least 300 mm (1 ft) apart in the rows. The taller annuals like cornflowers and Imperial larkspurs may be thinned to 600 mm (2 ft) apart in the rows. Those who go in for station sowing in order to save seed (an excellent plan) will sow three seeds at 300 mm (1 ft) distances along the rows and thin down to one per station should more than one seed grow at that point. All annual seeds must be sown shallowly so the drills need not be drawn out deeper than half an inch.

Hoe regularly between the rows if the mulching method has not been adopted, as weeds have a tendency to smother out the young annuals when they are trying to establish themselves. When the sedge peat or compost mulch is applied no weeds are able to grow. Give a mulching of sedge peat all over the ground. See that the flowers are picked regularly and even if they are not required, remove the flower heads so that the flowering period may be extended. It is always best to pick annuals either early in the morning or late in the evening and then to place them immediately into deep receptacles so that they can be up to their necks in water for two or three hours before being put into vases in the house.

VARIETIES

The following are suitable for sowing in the autumn: Cornflower, Double Blue and double Atropurpurea, a maroon purple and of good height. Candytuft, in blue, pink and all shades of mauve. Calendula, varieties Camp Fire, the best crimson-orange, Geisha Girl, an orange with incurved petals, and Orange King, a beautiful orange. Larkspur, the stock-flowered strain are tall and branchy, lovely colours, mauve and pink. Love in the Mist (Nigella) Miss Jekyll, a light blue, Persian Jewels Mixed, various colours. As the result of September sowings the Cornflower will Be ready to cut by the end of May, the Candytuft at the end of June, the Calendula mid June, the Nigella, June.

If the rows are covered with continuous cloches from the middle of December onwards and the cloches removed directly the annuals reach the top of them, it is possible to have cut flowers in each case a fortnight or three weeks earlier.

Varieties that live through the winter in the south:

Annual Chrysanthemum, the good types being Morning Star, Primrose Yellow, Eastern Star, a yellow with chocolate centre, Northern Star, a cream with a yellow border, Princess May, a white single and Coronet, a cream edged with lemon.

Clarkia, which can be had in various colours, carmine, rose, mauve, scarlet-purple and salmon. I like the Pulchella mixed, semi-double flowers in various colours, white, violet and carmine.

Gypsophila. Grow Monarch, the very select strain.

Larkspur. The most handsome are the stock-flowered.

Linaria. Have L. maroccana Excelsior, a beautiful mixture.

Saponaria. Grow S. vaccaria, rose.

Sweet Sultan. Purchase the seed under guaranteed colours, purple, white or yellow.

The Annual Chrysanthemum flowers in June; Clarkia in May and June; Godetia from mid June onwards; Gypsophila all through the summer, according to the sowings made; the Linaria, June, and the Saponaria in spring and early summer, and Sweet Sultan in July. Again, if these annuals are covered with continuous cloches they will flower two or three weeks earlier.

HALF-HARDY ANNUALS

The half-hardy annuals are those that will not stand any frost at all and are usually sown in boxes or pots. The plants that result are put out in the open after the middle of May when all fear of frost has passed. Latterly many of the half-hardy annuals have been sown under cloches out of doors, the sowings being made early in March in the south and late in March in the north.

China Asters

Usually flower in July and August. May be sown under glass at the end of March in a greenhouse at a temperature of 14 to 15 °C (60 °F) or may be sown in a frame and the plants thinned out as soon as they are convenient to handle; the planting out being done in May.

Good varieties are Victoria which can be bought under the colours carmine, white, lilac, etc.

Pasony flowered which can be bought as crimson, rose, light blue, etc., Comet, which has compact growth, in colours of lilac, rose, crimson, white and carmine.

Ostrich Plume, an excellent type available in most colours.

Sinensis, the single or marguerite aster with its crimson violet mauves, pinks and whites.

Single Comet, or as it is often called, Giant Single Chinese Comet.

Stocks

There are two main types of annual stocks, the Ten Week and the East Lothian. The Brompton Stocks are really biennials.

The Ten Week stocks grow about 450 mm (18 in) high and flower in July and August. The seed is usually sown h in boxes in the greenhouse in March and the plants thus raised are put out permanently in May. It is possible to sow the seed out of doors under cloches in March, especially if the cloches are put into position over the ground a fortnight before sowing.

The large flowering Ten Week stocks may be obtained in the following colours: light violet, pale lavender, white, deep rose and pure rose.

The East Lothian stocks grow 375 mm (15 in) high and are usually sown in July or August in frames or open ground in a sheltered position. The plants are then either covered with cloches from October onwards or may be planted out into frames over winter. They are usually allowed to flower where they are grown but it is possible to take the plants out of the frames and plant in the flowering position in May. From August sowings you can get good blooms from May till the end of August the following year. If you delay sowing till February you cannot get flowers to cut until about the end of June.

Zinnias

One of the best cut flowers. In season from August till September. May be had in various colour forms, mostly red, orange, primrose, purple, white and rose. Sow at the end of March in boxes in the greenhouse and plant out at the end of May or better still, sow where the plants are to grow, at the end of March under Access Frames. COSMOS. Flowers usually in August and September and may grow to a height of 2 m (6 ft). Usually sown in March in boxes in the greenhouse or directly into the cut flower border under cloches about mid-March.

EVERLASTING FLOWERS

The everlastings make good cut flowers and enable the supply of bloom to be kept up throughout the winter.

BIENNIALS

The following biennials make good cut flowers: Brompton Stocks, Canterbury Bells, Honesty, Annual or Biennial Scabious, Sweet William, Wallflowers, Forget-me-nots, Sweet Rocket.

Remember the plan in the cut flower border is to keep the bed standardized, so with both the annuals and bien-nials the rows will be planned 300 mm (1 ft) apart and if any greater distance is needed this should be given in the rows.

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