A Hardy Annual pretty much lives up to it’s name, it can withstand cold weather, as opposed to a Half-Hardy Annual, which MAY survive the cold (some of mine do if I mulch them but more about that another time) and it grows, flowers and sets seed all in one year, unlike a Biennial which grows foliage one year and flowers the next or a Perennial which comes back year after year.
As Autumn has arrived, it’s time to sow hardy annuals (HA) so they can form a small plant before the weather gets too cold. You can sow them in Spring but they will not flower as early, Autumn sowing gives them a head start and in my experience works well for my cutting patch, you can then sow replacements in Spring in the greenhouse that take over after the Autumn sown plants are past their best. I used to start mine in small pots in the greenhouse but I mostly sow direct now, it saves a lot of energy and keeps the greenhouse free for other things. You can just scatter your seeds in your chosen spot but it’s hard to tell what is a weed and what is a plant as they sprout so it’s better to sow in lines/drills, the seed packets should have the ideal depth and distance for each final plant, you will probably have to thin them out a few times as they grow. I wont go into too much detail, as to be honest there are so many good tutorials on the internet on how to grow HA and they are much better written then I could ever manage!
I find that I grow a lot of the same plants each year and most of my HA self seed, so I just transplant the seedlings to the desired spot once they are established. My worst problem is not watering the seedlings enough, or thinning them too keenly too early and having the slugs take out the rest leaving me to begin again next Spring. I am late planning my cutting beds but I know I will grow the following HA:
- Bupleurum rotundifolium – Griffithii
- Salvia Viridis/Sage – Blue Clary
- Euphorbia Oblongata
- Centaurea Cyanus/Cornflower – Blue Boy
- Calendula Officinalis/Marigold – Indian Prince
- Nigella Hispanica/Love-in-the-mist
- Nigella Damascena – Deep Blue
- Helianthus Annus/Sunflower – Red Sun
- Cerinth Major Purpurascens/Honeywort
- Malope Trifida Vulcan
- Ammi Majus/Bishop’s Flower
- Scabiosa Atropurpurea
I sow the Helianthus/Sunflower in Spring in the greenhouse but everything else is started in September, I give a few seeds a helping hand by shaking the seed heads in the spot where I want my new plants, cover them lightly with fine soil, water and then leave them too it. I still rather neglecting the garden, we have new school for Felix and builders working on part of the house so there is enough going on but I am worried about getting behind, I had better stop writing and get digging or I will regret it next Spring!