Monday, February 2, 2009

Attention on Annuals - Part I

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!


Seed sources:


Anonymous said...

Hi Kylee, this is an excellent shopping post, thanks! :-) I am won over by all of your little zinnias and will search them out. Really, everything you featured is wonderful, some new, some old to me but all lovely.

Nutty Gnome said...

Wonderful photos of gorgeous flowers!I'm quite a lazy gardener really, so often don't bother with annuals becuase we're doing so much else in the house and garden, but I have been inspired by your blog, have written down all the names and (much to the horror of Himself!) plan to buy and plant a load of seeds come Spring. I thank you - Himself is groaning!

flydragon said...

Hi Kylee,
I see we have pretty much the same tastes in annuals. I also plant gazanias everyear and save the seeds. I've also planted the cobaea and the profusion zinnas. Never tried the Xeranthemum though but it looks like something I would like.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is such an exciting post Kylee. It just makes me want to get out there and start planting. Ha.. Of course I can't do that but it won't be long. Simply gorgeous photos. I want them alllllll.

F Cameron said...


I am also an obsessed seed cart filler! I have two screenshots of carts saved off right now while I try to decided...

If my eyes are too big for my garden! :-)

Of course, I have to research everything for deer and rabbit resistance, too.


Kylee Baumle said...

Frances ~ I grew the typical zinnias too, but these smaller ones really did outshine the larger ones.
There are more annuals to come in the next post, so stay tuned!

Nutty Gnome ~ Himself will get over it! LOL!
There is something quite satisfying about planting tiny seeds, then seeing those little seedlings coming out of the ground and then grow into a plant that produces beautiful flowers.

flydragon ~ The Xeranthemum is GREAT! It really surprised me.

Lisa ~ Well, there's another post coming, with at least this many annuals featured! You're in trouble, girl! LOL!!

Cameron ~ We only have problems with rabbits in the winter, like NOW. They chew the shrubs, sometimes all the way down to the ground if they're small. Grrrrr!!! Deer aren't a problem, even though they're plentiful around here. Too many open spaces for them, I think. This is farm country! :-)

Anonymous said...

I loved this photo gallery of annuals and look forward to part two. Every year I order too many annual seeds for the amount of sunny space I'm willing to give over to flowers (veg reigns supreme in my patch of sun). And the flowers I do plant are mostly but not exclusively edible ones. I definitely share some of your loves though: white cosmos, the green zinnia "envy", lobelia, and the profusion zinnias (my favorite is apricot). I also grow purple heliotrope, white snap dragons, blue bachelor buttons, morning glory "Grandpa Ott", calendula "Flashback" and 8-10 varieties of nasturtium. I love Swallowtail seeds. Good choice!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Just when I thought I had my choices made, and didn't have too many more seeds to get. I think I need the cup and saucer vine (I've always wanted to try it),the coreopsis and a couple of the zinnias.

Kylee Baumle said...

deborah ~ There will be a part three as well. I just couldn't fit them all in two posts! I've got heliotrope, too, but I didn't grow it from seed. I'll have to check out 'Flashback' in the calendulas. I've grown nasturtiums in the past, but not last year. I'm thinking of growing them again this year.

Catherine ~ Well, just wait to finalize your list, because there are two more parts to this series! ;-)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm a zinnia lover, the more the merrier!

Will you be winter sowing again this year?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful selections you grew in your garden! I order the Cosmos Psyche for my garden this spring. Looking forward to part 2 in this series. :)

Unknown said...

Okay, so you have added to my plant list this spring. I think I need some of those Zinnia angustifolia growing against my block wall. Hot and dry location for sure. Great post.

Benjamin Vogt said...

That lobelia is great! And I'm gonna start cosmos earlier this year--the insects adore these things, and so, I shall adore them too.

Kylee Baumle said...

Robin ~ Believe it or not, Robin, I'm not winter sowing this year. I thought I might get twitchy during January and do it, but I honestly don't miss doing it. After a few years of direct sowing, too, I have just about as good of luck doing it that way.

Amazing how many types of zinnias there are, isn't it?

Racquel ~ Isn't it fun, shopping for seeds? :-)

Rick ~ You'll love them, Rick. Soooo easy and they always look good!

Kylee Baumle said...

Ben ~ The insects DO love the cosmos, don't they? Grrrr...

F Cameron said...

Kylee --

I'm holding you responsible and contributing to my seed addiction disorder.

After reading your post this morning, I ordered Xeranthemum seeds! :-)

... and more flowers and herbs, too.


Kylee Baumle said...

Cameron ~ Yay me! If I'm going down, I'm taking as many with me as I can. ;-)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Of course you're not the only one to buy way too much seeds. ;-)

Love the many varietiets of Zinnias, must see if I can buy them here too.

That Ipomoea nil chocolate is a winner, great flowers and beautiful leaves too.

Anonymous said...

Your post is like a breath of fresh spring air, Kylee! All that wonderful colour. I love the Treasure Flower (I've never seen it before) and all the zinnias would be another big hit with me. Can't wait for Part II.

Kylee Baumle said...

Yolanda Elizabet ~ I was hoping there were others out there like me! :-)

Nancy ~ No waiting necessary! Part II is up! :-)

Pat said...

You can never have enough cosmos or zinnias.
Annuals are great to have in the garden...something different every year!

Unknown said...

I'm kind of relieved, Kylee... I thought that I was the only one who had trouble with those California poppy seeds! I've tried 'Thai Silk Fire' and an ivory-colored white, and... nothing. This year, I'm going to just throw a bunch of seeds down in the garden mid-March and see what happens.

That burgundy foliage on the 'Crystal Palace' lobelia is definitely stunning. And I love calendula, too--I'm so bummed that I was too good at deadheading mine last year.

Wayne Stratz said...

I bought Lobelia seeds for the first time this year.

zinnia, cosmos, and gazania have become much loved and thus usual suspects

Jan said...

Now I've read all 3 of your wonderful posts. I started with #2 and then #3, and back to #1. All that happened is I've become more and more seriously seed deranged to the point that I will be coming back to your posts again and again (soon) to make orders. I say (soon) because I need to get some other things done, but I will be back.
It's amazing how well your flowers have done from seed, so now I think I need to try it. It gets a lot hotter in VA than OH in the summer, I do know that. But perhaps many of these can tolerate it. I shall find out!
You put a lot of thought and energy into these 3 posts and they are very helpful. Thanks for sharing Kylee:)

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