Best Annuals To Grow

It is impossible to list all the annuals that are available and I have chosen quite arbitrarily the annuals I have found to be (a) easy to grow, (b) full of colour, (c) last over a long period. Annuals of varying heights, shades and types have been chosen.

ADONIS Looks something like a buttercup, but has very pretty finely cut foliage. The seed may be sown in the open ground at the beginning of April. A. cestivalis grows 450 mm (18 in) high and bears deep crimson flowers in June and July. A. autumnalis grows 300 mm (1 ft) high bearing crimson flowers with a deeper centre from June to September.

AGERATUM A half-hardy annual excellent for bedding work. The seed is sown in the greenhouse in February or March and the plants raised put into the open in May. Blue Ball is a handsome dwarf type with deep blue flowers carried in ball-shaped clusters. Blue Chip is a small flowered compact variety, splendid for edging. ALYSSUM An excellent bedding plant bearing delicious-ly scented white flowers. The seed can be sown in the open ground during April. Carpet of Snow makes a dwarf bushy plant about 75 mm (3 in) high. Royal Carpet as its name suggests is a rich deep violet purple.

AMARANTHUS Commonly know as Love-lies-Bleeding, grows to a height of 600 to 900 mm (2 to 3 ft), the leaves being pale green and the flowers hanging in long drooping ‘cords’. These strange flowers are a rich blood red. The seed is usually sown in the open ground in April.

There are other types of Amaranthus, like Flaming Fountain; the leaves of this are flame coloured and the flower spikes are dark red.

ARCTOTIS Generally treated as a half-hardy annual. Most varieties bear dazzling daisy-like flowers. A. grandis grows 450 mm (1| ft) in height. The flowers have glistening white petals with the reverse shaded a delicate lavender. The flower centres are a rich blue. A. grandis only grows 600 mm (2 ft) high and has bright orange flowers on short stalks.

ASPERULA The Woodruff. A nice little edging plant. Sow in the open in April. Usually flowers in June and July. A. orientalis bears sky blue flowers on stems 300 mm (1 ft) high. Blossoms are sweetly scented.

BRACHYCOME A dainty half-hardy that likes a dry sunny position. Flowers over a long period. Raise under glass in early April, transplant in the open towards the end of May. Can also be sown in open ground towards the beginning of May. B. iberidifolia grows 300 mm (1 ft) in height, flowers may be 40 mm (1 \ in) in diameter in numerous varieties.

CALENDULA Commonly called the Marigold, or the Pot Marigold. May be grown almost anywhere and proves an excellent cut flower. Sow in open ground from late March to May according to the weather and district. In the south, September sowings are often successful. May grow to a height of 600 mm (2 ft) and bear lovely orange-coloured or yellow flowers. Orange King is one of the best orange doubles, compact and free flowering. Radio has quilled and pointed rich orange petals. Orange Coronet has double golden orange and Geisha Girl double orange incur-ving petals.

CAMPANULA Usually thought of as a perennial or biennial but there are some annuals that can be sown indoors in March and the plants raised then put out in the middle of May. C. compatica Blue Clips is a pretty species with blue flowers – cup-like. Looks well as a pot plant in a greenhouse. C. persicifolia only grows 600 mm (2 ft) high.

CHINA ASTER Seed usually sown in the greenhouse in March or in a cold frame in April. Seedlings are transplanted into further boxes or frames 50 to 75 mm (2 to 3 in) apart and when danger of frost is past the plants are put out into the open about the end of May. Is very subject to a disease known as Black Leg, causing the stems to rot off at ground level. Where it is known to occur the soil should always be sterilized before the seed is sown. There are many types and strains. The Anemone-flowered which are very handsome for indoor decoration, are mid-season, with stems often 600 mm (2 ft) long. There are the Colour Carpet Mixed, the dwarfs that only grow 225 mm (9in) high. There are the Giants of California, the large flowered types, 600 mm (2 ft) in height – the latest of all; Giant Comets which are excellent for bedding and cutting; Bouquet Powder Puffs, 600 mm (2 ft), medium sized, rounded, unusual. Lilliput is also mid-season but small flowered and very floriferous. Ostrich Feather is the long-stemmed type usually 600 mm (2 ft) in height and mid season.

CHRYSANTHEMUM The annual species of chrysan-themums are not sufficiently well known. Few annuals give a better show. Seeds are usually sown in open ground during April or under cloches may be made early in March. Good varieties are: Cecilia – a white with gold zones, very vigorous, height 750 mm (2|- ft); Paludosum – a dwarf, bushy, free flowering – pure white flowers, height 300 mm (1 ft); Gaiety – produces double flowers in a range of colours, height 600 mm (2 ft).

CLARKIA Easy to cultivate. Seed usually sown in open ground in March and April, or under continuous cloches early in March. May also be sown in September, out-of-doors and covered with continuous cloches early in November. C. pulchella has semi-double flowers with broad petals. Unwins Double Mixed is an unusual blending.

COBJEA One of the climbing types. C. scandens is the only species usually cultivated. It is grand for climbing up rustic arches and fences. The flowers are 40 mm (1½ in) in diameter resembling a Canterbury bell, being of a light violet colour. The seed is usually sown under glass early in March and and the seedlings are transplanted early in June to a warm sunny position.

COREOPSIS Usually thought of as a perennial but there are annual kinds which in seedsmen’s catalogues are often sold as Calliopsis. Plants are usually raised from seed sown under cloches or in the greenhouse or frames during March, the seedlings being transplanted about the end of May into the open. It is quite possible however to sow out of doors in April, especially in the south. C. tinctoria grows about 600 mm (2 ft) high. There are the semi-dwarf varieties like Baby Sun, a single golden yellow, free flowering, 450 mm / (18 in).

COSMOS Sometimes called Cosmea. Has delicately cut foliage and large single or double flowers. A grand annual. Seeds are usually sown under glass early in April, the seedlings being transplanted at the end of May or early in June. Can be sown in the open about the third week in April. There are a number of varieties including: Bright Lights, semi-double flowers orange, red – yellow, all early flowering – 750 mm {2\ ft); Sunset, semi-double Vermilion red – 900 mm (3 ft); Goldcurl, semi-double orange-yellow – 600 mm (2 ft); Psyche, semi-double mixture of colours -very free flowering – 900 mm (3 ft).

DIANTHUS The Annual Carnation, D. caryophyllus. It is the Chabaud varieties which are excellent for cutting if sown under Access Frames in February or early March or if sown in the greenhouse in February with the plants put out early in April. In the Giant Chabaud section there is Rose Queen, Purple King, Ruby Queen, Grenadin, a double scarlet. D. sinensis Persian Carpet Mixed is one of the most free-blooming of annuals. It only grows to about 225 mm (9 in) high and the flowers vary in colour from pink to rosy lilac. There is D. heddewigii which grows 225 mm (9 in) high and bears large single flowers varying in colour from crimson to white. There is D. heddewigii Dwarf Sensation Mixed and D. heddewigii Festival Mixed, the double type.

In the Sweet Wivelsfield group which was obtained by crossing Sweet William with Dianthus you have a plant which grows to about 450 mm (18 in) and resembles the Sweet William. Queen of Hearts, an F.I. Hybrid, grows 300 mm (12 in) high, produces a bushy plant 300 mm (12 in) across covered with scarlet flowers. Bravo grows 250 mm (10 in) high, bears masses of scarlet flowers, almost continuously throughout the summer. It is usually treated as an annual and is sown under glass in March or early April.

DIMORPHOTHECA A South African sun-loving daisy-flowered plant. The flowers close during the evening and in cloudy weather. There is the Namaqualand Daisy that grows about 450 mm (18 in) high and produces numbers of rich golden glossy flowers. There are the Aurantiaca hybrids which include shades from yellow to salmon, to orange and white.

ESCHSCHOLTZ1A One of the most brilliant annuals to grow. New forms continue to make their appearance. Sow seeds in open ground in September, certainly in the south, and you will get very early flowers, or of course sow in March or early April out-of-doors. E. californica grows 300 mm (1 ft) tall and can be had as singles or doubles. I can recommend the Monarch Art Shades – semi-double and frilled in various colours.

FELICIA A daisy flowered genus, useful for edgings. Seeds are usually sown under glass in March and the seedlings transplanted early in May. F. adfinis grows 200 mm (8 in) high and is often used as a decorative pot plant. F. fragilis grows 150 mm (6 in) high and bears clear blue flowers, being a first class edging plant.

GODETIA A very bright annual. Seeds usually sown in open ground in September to flower the following summer, or in the north sow in spring. G. grandiftora grows 600 mm (2 ft) high. This is the best species of which the majority of garden varieties have been derived. I can recommend Cherry Red and Flesh Pink. Those who prefer varieties growing only 300 mm (1 ft) may have Kelvedon Glory, Sybil Sherwood, a bright salmon pink, and Scarlet Emblem, a rich crimson. There are compact varieties growing only 225 mm (9 in) high, for instance, Gorgeous, a blood red, and Monarch dwarf.

GYPSOPHILA The Cloud Plant. A very graceful plant used for table decoration. Also giving featheriness and lightness to a border. Seed usually sown in open ground in early April, or for cut flower work under cloches in October. G. elegans grows 450 mm (18 in) high, bearing dainty white flowers, while Elegans Rosea bears rosy pink flowers.

HELIANTHUS The Sunflower. Seeds are usually sown in April in the ground where the plants are to flower. There is the common yellow sunflower that often grows 2.5 m (8 ft) high. It has varieties like Sutton’s Red whose large yellow flowers have a broad chestnut band round the centre. There is the Miniature Sunflower called Dwarf Sun-gold, which is perhaps more decorative and bears numerous yellow flowers to a height of only 1 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft).

ICELAND POPPY See Papaver nudicaule.

IMPAT1ENS The Balsam. Seed sown in open ground in April flower well in the summer. There is the garden balsam or Lady’s Slipper, a tender annual which is sown under glass at a temperature of 21 °C (70 °F) in March or early April, the seedlings not being transplanted till early June. There is the Camellia-flowered balsam, the large flowered double type that grows about 450 mm (18 in) high. There is General Gursan, a red and white variegated, 125 to 225 mm (5 to 9 in) high, the famous Zig-Zag Mixed with scarlet, orange, pink, rose and salmon flowers, and /. holstii hybrids, a fine mixture of lovely colours.

IPOMAEA A climbing annual with convolvulus-like flowers. The seeds are usually sown under glass in March or early April and the seedlings planted out in June. My favourites are the Early Call, a rose, the Flying Saucer, blue and white, and Wedding Bells, a soft mauve.

KOCHIA Known as the Burning Bush. Grows to a height of 600 to 300 mm (2 to 3 ft) and makes a compact bush of pale green feathery foliage. In the autumn its leaves turn to a rich coppery red. Sow seeds under glass in April and plant out at the end of May.

LARKSPUR Excellent cut flower. Can usually be sown out of doors late in September, the plants then reach to a height of 2 m (6 ft). If sown early in April in open ground plants usually grow 1 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft) high and flower later than the autumn sowings. The Double Stock-flowered larkspurs are perhaps the best. They can be had in dark blue, azure blue, rosy scarlet, white and salmon rose. There are also the Dwarf Hyacinth Flowers with feathery foliage.

LATHYRUS The Latin name for the Sweet Pea. Often grown by experts on the cordon system in specially prepared ground. Seeds can be sown under cloches in the open in October or in the greenhouse in January or for those who just want ordinary flowers, in the open ground in March or April. When grown on the cordon system only one stem is allowed and side shoots and the dingers or tendrils are pinched off. For the ordinary garden often grown up pea sticks are allowed to produce flowers at will. The important thing with sweet peas is never to allow the pods or seeds to form.

LAVATERA Grows to a height of 1 m (3 ft) and bears rosy purple flowers. Seeds are usually sown in the open during April but in the south I have known seeds to be sown in a warm sheltered border in September, and plants resulting live through the winter. Of the varieties available I recommend Loveliness.

LINARIA The Toadflax. An excellent little garden plant which may be raised from seed sown in the open during March and April. L. maroccana, the 300 mm (1 ft) handsome plant, bears dense violet flowers, with its various varieties and hybrids.

LINUM Flax. A lovely annual, extremely free flowering. The seeds are usually sown in the open in April, where the plants are to flower. There are two types, L. grandi-florum, like Regale, which grows to a height of 1 m (3 ft) and may bear flowers 50 mm (2 in) in diameter. There is Little Snow White which bears small white flowers on stems 200 mm (8 in) tall.

LOVE-IN-THE-MIST See Nigella.

LOVE-LIES-BLEEDING See Amaranthus.

LUPINUS The Annual Lupin. Most people think of lupins as perennials and many of them are. The annual lupins however are very effective and flourish in most soils. Seed should be sown in April in the open where the plants are to flower. Perhaps the most popular of the annual lupins is L. hartwegii which grows to a height of 1 m (3 ft). L. cruckshanksii grows 1.2 m (4 ft) high and bears large fragrant rose and yellow flowers. A dwarf annual lupin is L. nanus, which is about 225 mm (9 in) tall and very free flowering. The blossoms are blue and lilac.

MALLOW There is only one annual species of any merit. Malva crispa. This is an upright grower, 1.5 m (5 ft) high. The leaves are crisp and curled and the flowers are small and white. The foliage is sometimes used for garnishing purposes in the kitchen. Sow seed under glass (cloche, frame or greenhouse) late in March. Transplant the seedlings into the open early in June.

MALOPE An old-fashioned annual that loves rich soil and a sunny position. Sow the seeds in the open ground late in April. The most popular type is M. trifida which grows to a height of 1 m (3 ft). It bears large rosy-purple flowers in profusion; a variety M. trifida grandiflora has larger flowers, rosy red and veined inside with deeper red.

NEMESIA Because of their wide range of brilliant colour and wealth of bloom these South African annuals are now very popular. Seed grown out of doors does germinate with difficulty but the best way to raise the plants is to sow seed in pots or boxes in a cold frame, or under cloches and not in the greenhouse or out of doors. Plant the seedlings in the open towards the end of May. The most popular species ( today is N. strumosa which grows to a height of 450 mm (18 in). Some of the best varieties are Blue Gem, a brilliant blue, Fire King, a scarlet, Orange Prince, a rich deep orange, and Unwins hybrids which grow 250 mm (10 in) high.

NEMOPHILA Californian Bluebell. A lovely pretty com-pact annual bearing bright bell-shaped flowers. Sow the seeds where the plants are to bloom, in September, and they will give a wealth of flowers the following year, or sow them in April the following year. The best species is N. insignis, known as Baby Blue Eyes.

NICOTIAN A The Tobacco plant. Generally grown for the fragrance it gives off in the evening. The seed is usually sown under glass late in March and the seedlings put out towards the end of May. Can be sown in open border late in May and as a result it is late in flowering. N. affinis has within its ‘family’ Crimson Bedder, a deep crimson, and Idol, which is smaller. Lime Green grows to a height of 600 mm (2 ft) and has greeny yellow flowers.

NIGELLA Love-in-the-Mist or Devil-in-the-Bush. One of the most popular flowers there is. Sow the seed towards the end of September out of doors for flowering early the following summer; covering with continuous cloches ensures flowering in May. May be sown out of doors in March and then flowers about July. N. damascena grows about 600 m (2 ft) high and bears pale blue or white blossoms. Miss Jekyll is the most popular, cornflower blue. There is also the Persian Jewels with flowers of rose, pink, carmine, mauve, purple, etc.

PETUNIA Generally grown as a bedding plant, the seeds being sown in the greenhouse during February or March, the seedlings being planted out in June. There are all double strains both tall and dwarf; there are striped and blotched strains like Hender’s and there are the Double Grandifloras, a large-flowered strain in a great variety of colours. There are the bedding varieties that grow about 300 mm (1 ft) and can be had under various names like Blue Ribbon, a blue, Orange Bells, an orange, Red Satin, a red, and Sugar Plum, an orchid lavender.

PHACELIA The seeds are usually sown in open ground in late September for flowering next year, and in the cold parts of the north the seeds should be sown in April for flowering in the Summer. P. campanularia only grows 225 mm (9 in) high and bears brilliant blue flowers and greyish green leaves tinged with red. There are other species but this is the most important.

PHLOX The annual phlox is Phlox drummondii which grows about 450 mm (1½ ft) high and is a very showy plant. Though it can be sown out of doors late in April it is usually sown under some form of glass in March and the plants are put out in late May or early June. There are a number of types such as Twinkle Dwarf Star, a mixture of colours; P. nana compacta Cecily Mixed; and Unwin’s Large Flowered.

POLYGONUM The annual in this genus are quite attractive. There is P. orientate, the Prince’s Feather which often grows 1.5 m (5 ft) high and bears crimson flowers in long drooping spirals. P. persicaria the Lady’s Thumb grows 600 mm (2 ft) high, and there is the sign of the thumb in every leaf. The flowers vary from pink to purple.

POPPY Papaver. A border of poppies is a constant joy for many weeks. Annual poppies are easy to grow. The seed can be sown in the open ground in March or April. In the case of P. nudicaale the seed should be sown at the end of July under continuous cloches or in a cold frame, and the seedlings that result should be planted in September where they are to flower next year. This Iceland Poppy group is undoubtedly very popular. The flowers may be had in almost any colour. The Gartref is a unique strain composed of petals edged with a deeper strain. The Sunbeam strain produces the largest of all the flowers. The corn poppy is P. rhceas. It has given rise to numerous garden varieties. Shirley Poppies winch are very well known, while the Dan-neburg are the white cross on red types. I like also Pierrot, a bright scarlet single at 600 mm (2 ft).

RUDBECKIA Sometimes called Black-eyed Susan. The seeds are usually sown in March under glass, the seedlings being planted out towards the end of May. Can of course be sown in the open towards the end of April. Does well started under continuous cloches if sown early in April. The annual is R. bicolor. It grows 450 mm (1½ ft) in height, the petals are generally yellow marked at the base with purple. The central disc is usually black. Bambi is a 300 mm (1 ft) rich chestnut and gold; Autumn Leaves, a 600 mm (2 ft) brown and bronze; and Sputnik, a lemon with a maroon centre.

SALPIGLOSSIS The flowers are delicately marked and the trumpet-shaped blooms are particularly beautiful. Their colours may range from pale yellow to scarlet and from purple to blue. Seeds are usually sown under glass early in March so as to have plants ready to put out early in June. They make a wonderful show for weeks during the summer. Larger plants can be obtained by sowings made early in September under continuous cloches or in the greenhouse. Splash is earlier and more bushy than other strains with a wide colour range.

SAPONARIA The seeds can be sown in open ground in September to flower the following summer except in the north when the seeds are usually sown in late April. Under cloches autumn sowings are even possible in the north. There are two main species: S. calabrica, 225 mm (9 in) high, pink, of which there is a white and a scarlet variety, and S. vacaria, the most graceful of the two, grows about 750 mm {2\ ft) tall and bears large deep pink flowers.

SCABIOSA The Annual Scabious or Pin-cushion flower. Lovely flowers borne on long wiry stems. Sow in September under cloches, or sow early in March under cloches. Sowings made in the open towards the middle of April produce plants that flower late. S. atropurpurea grows 600 mm (2 ft) high. It is this species that produce most of the garden varieties. Blue Cockade is a dark blue and Fire King a rosy crimson. There are also the Cockade mixed seeds.

STOCK (Mathiola) Stocks are so sweetly scented and flower for such long periods that most people want to grow them. It is possible to have a succession of blooms from early May till late autumn. M. bicornis is the night-scented stock. It is not much to look at in the day but the flowers open in the evening and give off a delicious perfume. Sow thinly where the plants are to grow, early in April. The Seven Week stocks produce one long densely flowered spike followed later by numerous side branches. This makes an excellent cut flower and may be had in a variety of colours. The Giant Perfection Ten Week large-flowering is an excellent stock as it grows to a height of 600 mm (2 ft). The Ten Week Large Flowering is useful both for cutting and bedding. The Double Early Cascade stock is the shorter early flowering form and bears massive spikes of lilac flowers.

All the types mentioned above may be grown from seed, sowing in March in the greenhouse or under cloches and the seedlings transplanted where they are to flower about mid-May.

A number of stocks can be sown in the summer and autumn; the Brompton stock, for instance, is really a biennial. The seed is usually sown at the end of July and the seedlings put out where they are to flower in September.

TAGETES The Marigold. Generally grown as a bedding plant, the seeds being sown in the greenhouse late in February or early in March and pricked out into further boxes, and planted out into the open in early May. There is the African marigold which has many varieties, like Sunbeam, a pale gold variety. Guinea Gold, a semi-double golden orange, and Mexican Harvest Gold, an all-double golden yellow. In the French Marigold group the modern plants only grow about 150 mm (6 in) high. Red Carpet, mahogany red. Golden Gem, a double golden yellow, and Carina a deep orange and Lemon Gem, a bright yellow.

TROPJEOLUM The Nasturtium. This thrives on poor soil for if grown on rich land you get nothing but leaves and few flowers. T. majus is the annual with varieties like Rose, a cerise rose, Salmon Baby, and Cherry Talisman, a scarlet. There are the Tom Thumb Globe varieties which produce small plants covered with flowers like Jewel Mixed.

URSINIA A lovely South African annual with very graceful foliage and an abundance of orange daisy-like flowers. Being a half-hardy is it best to sow the seed under glass (greenhouse cloche or frame) in March or early April, the plants that arise being put out towards the end of May. It is possible to sow seed in open ground early in May. Ursinias like a sunny dryish position. U. anethoides grows to a height of 450 mm (1½ ft) and bears large rich orange flowers, 75 mm (3 in) across on stiff, wiry stems. There is a deep red zone near the base of the petals marked with a showy black blotch.

VENIDIUM Another South African annual with daisylike flowers which are strikingly handsome. The seeds should be sown as advised for Ursinia above. It prefers poor soil and in fact in rich ground produces imperfectly-shaped flowers. V. fastuosum grows to a height of 750 mm (2½ ft). The leaves are covered with white downy hairs and the flowers may be 125 mm (5 in) across. The petals are deep orange and the centre of the flowers jet black. There are some hybrids which include several shades – orange, buff, yellow and white.

VERBENA This is really a perennial treated as an annual. The seeds are sown in the greenhouse in January or early February in the no-soil compost and the seedlings are planted out towards the end of May or early June. Blaze is the one commonly grown and there is Sparkle Mixed which grows 250 mm (1-0 in) high and produces large flowers of different colours, and Royal Banquet, which is really a mixture of many fine shades.

ZINNIA A lovely tall brilliant annual excellent for cutting purposes but rather stiff and formal for border work. Seeds may be sown where the plants are to flower under continuous cloches towards the end of March or in greenhouses about the same time. After the usual potting on, the greenhouse plants are put out into their flowering positions in June. Zinnias like well manured ground, and a sunny spot. The Thumbelinas are little plants 150 mm (6 in) high. Pumilas are 325 mm (15 in) tall, bushy and bear 60 mm (2½ in) diameter flowers. The Dahlia Flowered produce blooms like double dahlias 75 to 100 mm (3 to 4 in) across. The Cactus Flowered grow 750 mm {2\ ft) high with a charming coloured range within them. The Peter Pans are dwarf bushy and bear incredibly large double flowers -and they bloom when they are only 150 mm (6 in) high. Try Pan Pink, a salmon-rose.

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