With the push of instant gardens and bedding out plants, less people are direct seeding annual flowers into the garden. They bloom later than transplanted flowers but they are a viable alternative. The following are ones that do well when sown outside.
The first list of plants do best in full sun.
African Daisy, Dimorphotheca look good at the front of the bed as they reach 30 cm (12 in) in height. They come in white and shades of yellow and orange. The flowers open in direct sunlight.
Love-lies-Bleeding a variety of Amaranthus will grow to 90 cm (36 in) with ropes of hanging red flowers.
Calendula are available in different shades or orange and yellow. Depending on the variety planted, they will grow between 30 – 60 cm (12 – 24 in) tall. The aster like blooms are great for long lasting cut flowers and can be used in tinctures and dyes.
California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica provide a riot of color if planted in full sun. Like the African Daisy, they open in full sun. Heritage seed produces orange and or yellow blooms while new varieties have added pinks, whites and purples. The plants will reach 30-45 cm (12 – 18 in)
There are many other annual poppies that when sown in the spring, bloom for most of the summer.
Cosmos are available as heritage plants or come in a number of new varieties. The size of the flower and height of the plant is dependent on the variety but they range from 20 -120 cm (8 – 48 in) Lacy foliage and large flowers in white, various shades of pink and orange make them a popular choice.
Nasturtiums are tender plants with seeds that need warm soil to germinate. The different varieties have different growth habits, clumping, climbing and trailing.
Seed Bachelor Buttons Centaurea early in the season for small flowers in shades of pink, blue, purple and white.
Sweet Pea seeds are cold hardy and should be in the ground as soon as it has thawed. Choose a variety that suits the garden; short, tall, scented and with very little scent. For best results incorporate organic matter into the soil before planting.
When looking at sunflower seeds, choose a short seasoned variety to insure they flower before the first frost. The colour palette ranges from light yellow to dark bronze. The seed heads will attract birds.
The following annuals do best when sown in partial shade.
Larkspur grows like the perennial delphinium, with tall flower spikes of white, blue, purple or pink flowers. Plant at the back of a border as they will reach between 75 -125 cm (30-050 in) high.
Clarkia flowers form spikes that reach upwards to 40-50 cm (16-20 in). The flowers contain double petals in white, pinks and light mauve.
Nicotiana is available in heritage and new varieties. Each variety differs in height, color, growth habits and perfume. Choose one that suits the garden.
There are a number of different varieties of annual Phlox, available. What they have in common is spikes of white, mauve or pink flowers.
Nigella have fine foliage and flowers that are blue, white or pink. The plant will reach 40-60 cm (16-20 in) in height.
Godetia flower later in the season when sown from seed. They will reach between 45 – 60cm (18-24in) height. The flowers are pinks, and purples with darker markings in the centre.
To keep the seeded annuals blooming, it is best to remove the spent flowers. Chances are that some of the seeds will fall and provide some plants for next season.
Linda Tomlinson has gardened in central Alberta for over 30 years. She can be reached at email@example.com.