Every year, I grow several annuals here at Our Little Acre. Some make their appearance every year, whether by my choice or theirs (self-seeding), but I always try to grow something new each year as well.
The seed catalogs arrive throughout the month of January, when we here in the north are color-deprived and longing for spring. I go online and fill my virtual shopping carts with way more seeds than I can possibly plant, and that's when I have to refine and reduce it to a more realistic total. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.
Flowers appeal to me for various reasons, with the main one being the beauty of their blooms. But just because they're pretty doesn't mean I should or can plant them in my own garden. For me, the easiest way to whittle down my list of seed wants is to see if they are suitable for our location and if they require any special conditions for germination. Time until maturity, whether it be harvesting the vegetables or producing flowers, is another practical consideration.
During the year, as I visit other gardeners' blogs, I see flowers that I like and want for my own gardens. Many are perennials, but most of the ones that I will plant from seed are annuals. Here are some of the annuals that I've grown from seed. Maybe you'd like to try a few of them in your garden this year.
Gazania rigens - Commonly known as Treasure Flower, these have given me great joy in the variations of patterns they present. I save seed from previous years' plants, so by now, I have no idea which cultivar I'm growing, although the one pictured is from 'Daybreak Mix'. The only downfall they have thatI can see is that they don't open up all the way on a cloudy day.
Cosmos bipinnatus - I love the carefree airy look of Cosmos, and in the past I've grown all colors of them, but last year I only grew white, planted with Zinnia elegans 'Envy'. This year, I think I'll try to find seeds for 'Psyche,' which is a white double. Cosmos definitely self-seed if you let them.
Coreopsis tinctoria 'Mahogany Midget' - This is a smaller, finer featured Coreopsis which got off to a slow start, but once it began blooming, it didn't stop until we got a hard freeze. Blooms are an inch or less in diameter. It self-sows freely.
Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra 'Loraine Sunshine' - I winter sowed this a couple of years ago and it did well the first year and returned the second. I love the variegated foliage, but I have noticed some of it reverting to solid green over time.
Zinnia pauciflora - This is a small-flowered species zinnia that is simply charming. I purchased the seeds from The Monticello Store, which lists the flower as grown in 18th-century gardens, before hybrids came on the scene. It self-seeds, but I saved some seed from last year's plants so I can be sure to have some this year.
Silene coeli-rosa - Also known as Viscaria oculata, this is another sweet, airy annual that self-seeds readily.
Xeranthemum annuum 'Immortal Mix' - What a bloomer! I love the glaucous foliage, but the seemingly neverending blooms won me over and I don't want to be without this performer in my gardens. It self-seeds, but I made sure to save some just in case. This was a mix, but at least 75% of the blooms were shades of lavendar, with the rest being white.
Zinnia elegans 'Profusion Apricot and Fire' - These have to be the healthiest hybrid zinnia plants I've ever had. No mildew, and blooms lasted a long time.
Zinnia angustifolia - This narrow-leaf zinnia was amazing. It didn't matter how much or how little rain we got, they bloomed and the blooms each lasted at least two months without wilting! Deadheading is supposed to promote more blooms, but I honestly didn't need to do it. See how they look in the picture? They stayed looking like that all summer.
Lobelia erinus 'Crystal Palace' - I just sort of threw these seeds in this location and forgot what it was I planted there until they bloomed. They are such an intense shade of purply-blue, they seemed to glow. The burgundy foliage is nice, too.
Ipomoea nil 'Chocolate' - This Japanese morning glory has large (4-5") ruffly blooms and is a unique shade of mauve, with some of the flowers having a white edge. The variegated leaves are fun, too.
Cobaea scandens - Known commonly as Cup and Saucer Vine, I grew this beauty from seed for the first time last summer. I had attempted it the summer before and failed to get even one seed to germinate. To be honest, of all the ones I planted this past summer, only one of those germinated, but it was enough to produce a strong vine with several gorgeous blooms. I'll try it again this year.
Eschscholzia californica - This is my California Poppy! I planted several seeds - probably a couple hundred - and this was the only one that bloomed. For a day. I'm glad I took a picture of it right away. If I hadn't been home, I would have missed it. I was so disappointed, but I'll try again this year.
Zinnia haageana 'Chippendale' - I've grown this narrow-leaved zinnia for several years now, saving seed from year to year. It's a robust grower and bloomer.
Nemophila maculata - It will come as no surprise to you that this cute little annual is commonly called Five Spot. I really loved this one and grew it in my rock garden. Some of the blooms had seven spots, but most were just like the one pictured.
More Our Little Acre annuals in Part II!