Long Flowering Annuals And Biennials

These plants remain in bloom for long periods so are particularly useful for container work and bedding; some also make good cut flowers.


Because rust disease is widespread and ruins their foliage, snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are usually grown as hardy or half-hardy annuals. Their varying heights, honey fragrance and showy flowers make them popular for summer bedding, window boxes and as cut flowers. Colours range from white and yellow through shades of pink to scarlet, blood red and near lavender. The F, hybrids are particularly good for cutting or forcing under glass. Heights vary from 3 ft. in the Grandiflorum Giant Sentinels range; 4 ft. in Maximum; Nanum Grandiflorum is 15 in. and Nanum Compactum 6 to 8 in. There are also double varieties and Penstemon-flowered types with flat-fronted tubular flowers.


Begonia semperflorens are dependable, long-flowering bedding plants which can also be used in window boxes and other containers or rock garden pockets. They are neat and compact, on average 6 to 15 in. high, with green or bronze foliage and masses of small, pink, red or white flowers. Treat as half-hardy annuals. Suitable for sun or shade.


Calendula officinalis is the pot marigold, a splendid plant for bedding and cutting. The round daisy heads come in various shades of yellow and orange, the doubles being most popular. Pot marigolds thrive in sun and most soils and can be raised from autumn or spring sowings out of doors.


Californian poppies (Eschscholzia callfornica) are hardy annuals with deeply cut, glaucous foliage, fleshy tap roots and large yellow, orange, cream, pink and red single or double flowers on 12 to 15-in stems. Sow out of doors in spring or autumn in full sun.


Forget-me-nots (Myosotis alpestris) are best treated as biennials. These well-known, blue-flowered favourites are ideal for spring bedding, particularly between bulbs. The pink and white forms are less popular. They grow 4 to 12 in. tall in sun or light shade. After flowering shake the old plants over a spare corner of ground, and enough seedlings will come up for the following season’s use.


Annual poppies should be grouped in borders, otherwise they make little impact. They are easy to grow in any open situation and reasonable soil and may be sown outside in autumn or spring. Shirley poppies are derived from the scarlet, black-based corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas, and have larger and white-based flowers in a delightful range of pink and rose shades, also white. Double varieties are also available. P. nudicaule, the Iceland poppy, should be treated as a half-hardy annual. The long (12 to 18 in.) stems carry large flowers of glowing orange, yellow, white, pink or rose. P. somniferum, the opium poppy, has glaucous leaves and stems and very large single or double, white, salmon or scarlet flowers. Sow these out of doors in spring.


Polyanthus, derived in the main from Primula veris and P. vulgaris crosses, are frequently raised from seed as biennials. They make excellent spring bedding plants with white, yellow, orange, pink, rose, red, blue, purple or violet flowers and

after blooming can be lifted and divided and removed to a cool, moist, shady spot for the summer In autumn they can be replanted in rich soil and a sunny situation. They grow 1 ft. in height.


Although not natives of Africa or France, nor yet true marigolds, Tagetes erecta, the African marigold, and T. patula, the French marigold, are reliable half-hardy annuals which bloom right through the summer. The Africans are tall and vigorous with round and heavy, yellow or orange flowers up to 6 in. across on branching stems and unpleasant smelling, cut-edged leaves. There are also dwarf and Carnation and Chrysanthemum-flowered types. Heights vary from 6 in. to 3 ft.; the Burpee Climax strain being particularly fine (24 to 3 ft.).

French marigolds are smaller and daintier with masses of single or double lemon, gold, orange or mahogany-red flowers, often striped or striated with other shades. The average height is 6 to 12 in. Both kinds like sun but will also flower well in wet seasons.


Verbenas (usually listed as Verbena hybrida) have flat heads of flowers in pink, red, mauve, blue and purple, also white. They make bushy plants 12 to 15 in. high with simple serrated leaves and there are also dwarf forms. Grow as half-hardy annuals in full sun — although strictly speaking they are perennial and were once propagated from cuttings.

Other long season annuals include ageratum, alyssum, chrysanthemums, impatiens, matthiola and tropaeolums.

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