A guide to creating great colour by growing summer annuals!
If you’re new to gardening, then you’re probably keen to get some instant colour. Annuals are a great way to do this, and you can easily grow plants, such as cornflowers, marigolds and petunias, from seed. Alternatively, you can buy small plants from nurseries and nurture them into established and thriving specimens.
Sow annuals during April and May, they grow really quickly so you won't have to wait long for flowers! Alternatively buy young plants from a nursery.
For annuals with larger seeds such as marigolds, sow individual seeds in a modular seed tray. Use a pencil to create holes approximately 1.5mm deep in which you can place individual seeds. For annuals that have tiny seeds, create troughs in an open seedtray by pulling a pencil across the compost. Scatter seeds sparsely and cover with soil, remember to keep them moist. As seedlings develop, pinch out the weaker specimens to give stronger plants room to grow.
Pot plants into larger containers when the roots appear through the drainage holes in the seedtray. Plant into their final position after the final frost has receded. Regardless of whether this is a hanging basket or a flower border, it is important to ensure they're well watered whilst they establish themselves.
You should remove dead flowers quickly to prolong the flowering season, otherwise your summer-long show will be cut short and plants will quickly set seed.
In milder climates you may find some of your annuals will overwinter. However, in many cases the plants the following year will be weak so it's best to collect seeds in paper bags or envelopes from the final flowers and sow new plants.