Hardy Annuals Tips

Description, An annual completes its whole cycle of life, including the production of flowers and seed, within one year, and then dies. A hardy annual is, in addition, sufficiently resistant to cold to be sown outdoors without protection in the spring. Some hardy annuals can also be sown outdoors in the autumn and wintered without protection, but this does not apply to all.

Soil and Situation. Hardy annuals are extremely adaptable and there are few soils or places in which they will not grow. They prefer soils that are well drained and positions that are open and sunny, but godetias do tolerably well in shade also. Little preparation is required, beyond thorough forking to prepare a fine seed bed. Manure as a rule does more harm than good, tending to produce leaves at the expense of flowers.

Sowing. Seed may be sown at any time from March till May and, in the case of particularly hardy varieties, again in early September. September sown plants will winter without thinning outdoors and start to flower in June the following year. March and April sown annuals flower from July to September, while those sown in May flower from August to October. Seeds are sown where the plantsHardy Annuals are to flower. Some seedlings may be transplanted elsewhere later on if overcrowded, but the majority are left undisturbed. Taprooted annuals, such as godetias, eschscholzias, and Shirley poppies, do not transplant well. Seed may be sown broadcast or in drills, and should be covered very lightly with finely broken soil. Water if the soil is dry, not otherwise. Germination takes from one to three weeks according to variety and weather.

Thinning. If seedlings come up too thickly, they must be thinned as soon as they can be handled, except autumn-sown annuals, which are not thinned until the following spring. Small varieties should be thinned to 4 or 5 in. apart, kinds of medium growth to 8 to 12 in. and tall varieties to 18 in. or more.

Culture. Faded flowers should be removed before seed is formed unless it is intended to save some seed for the following year. If it is desired to save seed, a few good plants should be marked for the purpose early in the summer and all flowers retained. The seed pods are cut with a length of stem as soon as they turn yellow and start to split open or, with daisy-type flowers, as soon as the heads turn yellow and show signs of shedding their seeds. Ripening should be completed in clean, paper-lined trays in a sunny window or greenhouse. Different varieties of the same kind of annual, e.g. different colours of eschscholzias, cross readily and unless special precautions are taken seed will be mixed, i.e. the seedlings will produce flowers of many different colours.

Feeding is usually unnecessary. The only other routine measure is to keep beds free of weeds, by hoeing until the plants cover the ground, and then by hand weeding.

Name / Colour / Height / Distance to Thin

  • Alyssum (Sweet) White 4-6 in. 4-6 in.
  • Amaranthus caudatus Crimson and green 30 in. 12 in.
  • Bartonia Yellow 18 in. 12 in.
  • Calandrinia Rose, crimson 9-18 in. 6-9 in.
  • Calendula Yellow and orange 2-18 in. 12 in.
  • Calliopsis (coreopsis) Yellow and crimson 8-24 in. 12 in.
  • Candytuft White, lilac, and purple 6-12 in. 6-9 in.
  • Chrysanthemum (annual) White, yellow, scarlet to maroon 2-24 in. 12-18 in.
  • Clarkia White, pink to crimson 8-24 in. 12 in.
  • Collinsia White and purple 2 in. 6-9 in.
  • Convolvulus Purple, crimson, and white 2-15 in. 9-18 in.
  • Cornflower White, blue, and rose 2-36 in. 9-12 in.
  • Dimorphotheca Orange, salmon, etc. 2 in. 12 in.
  • Echium Blue, lavender, pink, and white 2 in. 9 in.
  • Eschscholzia Yellow, orange, carmine, and rose 9-12 in. 9 in.
  • Godetia Pink to crimson and white 6-24 in. 9-12 in.
  • Gypsophda elegans White, pink, and carmine 18 in. 9-12 in.
  • Helipterum roseum Pink and white 18 in. 6 in.
  • lpomoea purpurea Blue, purple, pink, and white Climbing 1-2 ft.
  • thcobaea White, mauve, pink, and purple 18 in. 9-12 in.
  • Larkspur White, blue, pink, and scarlet 2-3 ft. 18 in.
  • Lavatera White and rose 3-4 ft. 18 in.-2 ft.
  • Layia Yellow and white 12 in. 9 in.
  • Leptosiphon Various 3-6 in. 3-4 in.
  • Limnanthes Pale Yellow 6 in. 6 in.
  • Linum (scarlet flax) Scarlet 9-12 in. 6 in.
  • Love-in-a-Mist (nigella) Blue and white 18 in. 12 in.
  • Lupin White, blue, pink to crimson 2 ft. I ft.
  • Malope Purple, white, etc. 2-3 ft. 18 in.
  • Matthiola bicornis Purple 9-12 in. 3-6 in.
  • Mignonette Greenish yellow, white, and red 12 in. 6-9 in.
  • tNasturtium Yellow, scarlet, etc. 9-12 in. Also 9-15 in.
  • climbing.
  • Nemophila Blue 6 in. 4-6 in.
  • Phacelia Blue 8 in. 9 in.
  • Poppy (Shirley and Cardinal) White, pink, crimson, heliotrope, etc. 2-3 ft. 12-15 in.
  • Salvia horminum Blue, pink and white 18-24 in. 9 in.
  • Saponaria Rose 2 ft. 6 in.
  • Scabious (Sweet) White, lavender, pink to maroon 18-24 in. 12-15 in.
  • Sunflower (annual) Yellow and orange 3-10 ft. 2-3 ft.
  • *Sweet Pea White, pink, blue, scarlet, etc. 6-10 ft. 4-9 in.
  • Sweet Sultan White, rose, and purple 18 in. 9 in.
  • Tagetes signata pumila Yellow 9-12 in. 6 in.
  • Tropaeolum canariense
  • (Canary creeper) Yellow Climbing 9-12 in.
  • Virginian Stock White, yellow, pink to crimson 6 in. 3-4 in.
  • Viscaria White, blue, pink to crimson 12 in. 6 in.

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