Those Other Annuals Your Garden Needs
By Penny Ossowski
Many organic growers concentrate on growing vegetables, herbs, fruit trees - edibles, edibles and more edibles - these are all very good but remember to feed your other senses. To start with, how about some annual (or biennial or perennial) flowers, those you remember your mother or grandmother growing. It is time to plant some now.
Start by buying some seeds, BOGI has a few varieties, Eden Seeds has more. You can even buy punnets of seedlings to get a head start. Some varieties I suggest you try are following. Most of these flowering plants can be grown in your garden beds or in pots, their growing position being dependent on where they can get at least six hours of sun a day which most of them need to flower well. Soil should be prepared with some broken down animal manures, compost and worm castings if you've got some. I like to add some blood and bone, dolomite, rock dust, biochar and gypsum when I prepare the garden beds. When planting out the seedlings I soak them first in a weak solution of seaweed solution, fish oil, molasses and neem oil for a short time and I put some Organic Xtra pellets in the bottom of the hole I am planting them into.
For seed of flowering annuals go online to buy from Eden Seeds and Select Organic.
Aquilegia, Aquilegia coerulea, hardy perennial, for beds, borders and cut flower, full sun or partial shade, rich well drained soil, sow seeds very shallow.
Aster, Callistephus chinensis, hardy annual, for garden beds and cut flower, likes full sun, mulch to keep roots cool is very beneficial, prefers well drained soil not heavily fertilised.
Calendula, Calendula officinalis, hardy annual, for beds, borders, pots, cut flower, full sun, friable fertile soil.
Candytuft, Iberis umbellate, hardy annual plant to 25cm, scented, prefers sunny position, well drained soil and neutral pH, sow direct.
Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllis, hardy perennial, (mine do better as annuals) fragrant flowers, good in beds, nip tips to encourage branching, need well drained soil.
Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus, hardy, annual flower to 1m high with pretty blue flowers on grey-green foliage, attracts bees and butterflies, long-lasting cut flower. It prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, with protection from wind.
Forget Me Not, Cynoglossum amabile, hardy annual plant to 70cm, dainty blue flowers, excellent cut flower, full sun or part shade.
Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, hardy biennial often grown as an annual, plants are poisonous, beautiful in flower beds, full sun or part shade, leave seed uncovered.
Gomphrena, Gomphrena globosa, annual, border plant, also used as cut flower or dried, full sun, cover seed lightly.
Heartsease, Viola tricolor, old English flower, native of Spain, in older times used for its potency in love charms, edible flowers are purple violet and yellow with long flowering time, annual with medicinal uses, also know as Johnny Jump Up, full sun or part shade, rich well drained soil.
Hollyhock, Alcea rosea, annual, biennial, or perennial, useful for attracting butterflies and as a long-lasting cut flower, prefers a sunny position with protection from wind takes about 28 weeks from sowing to flowering. Larkspur, Delphinium consolida orientalis, hardy spring flowering annual to 60cm, good for cutting, sunny sheltered position, well drained fertile soils, drought tolerant.
Nigella, Nigella damascene, Hardy fast growing annual to 60cm, feathery green foliage, beautiful flower as cut flower and decorative pods used in dried
arrangements, full sun, average well drained soil, sow direct.
Pansy, Viola wittrockiana, hardy annual to 20cm, familiar multi-coloured flowers, excellent in flower beds or containers, edible flowers, often as pressed flower, sunny or partly shaded position, heat and cold tolerant.
Poppy - Iceland, Papaver nudicaule, annual suited to garden beds, pots and for cut flowers, full sun, cold and wind resistant, well prepared friable soil.
Snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, perennial plants, best grown as annuals, tall showy flower heads, scented border plant, excellent for cut flowers, blooms and flowers tolerate a light frost, prefers sunny spot, cut back after first flowering, well drained soil.
Stock, Matthiola incana, hardy annual to 60cm, full sun, fertile well drained soil.
Sweetpea, Lathyrus odoratus, fragrant spring flowering annual, used as cut flower, native to Italy.
Virginian Stock, Malcolmia maritima, popular hardy spring flowering biennial, grown as an annual, showy flower spikes, strongly fragrant, use in landscaping, borders and pots and as cut flower, prefers rich friable soils, sow direct into growing spot.
Most of these I will plant into seed punnets. I fill the punnets with seed raising mix, soak seeds in a little water with a pinch of epsom salts then put 2 or 3 seeds into each cell of a punnet. Put a marker in each punnet with the name of the seeds planted in it. I then put all punnets into a polystyrene box with an old towel in the base, give them a water with a weak seaweed solution then cover the top with an old car window resting on a couple of sticks (allows air flow). I spray punnets/seedlings with water as needed to keep them damp. When seedlings get their first set of leaves I thin to one per punnet and when they are 5 - 7cm tall I will plant out into the garden bed or into a larger pot.
A few of the above Candytuft, Virginian Stock, Heartseas and Nigella like to be planted directly where they will grow. I place a plastic ring (cut top of a plastic pot about 4cm tall) loosen the soil in ring, mix seeds with a little sand or sieved compost and place in ring, water with some diluted seaweed solution, keep soil damp until seeds germinate and get growing, thin as required.
Get started now and plant some of the flowering plants listed above.