From the Desk of Ed Hume: May and June are great months to direct seed flowers

May 21, 2012 at 8:29 AM Leave a comment

Want a bright, showy flower garden with a minimum of work?  Right now during the months of May and June is a great time to direct-seed many summer flowering annuals from seed.  Direct seeding means you work (prepare) the soil, then simply sow the seeds outdoors, as per the directions on the seed packet.  It’s that simple!

It’s a great way for homeowners to spruce up their yard and garden with a minimum of out-of-pocket cost.

Which annual flowers are the easiest to start that way?  Here’s a list of a dozen favorites:

ALYSSUM: This is a wonderful, low-growing border annual.  The white variety Snow Cloth/Carpet of Snow grows only 4 inches high.  The lavender variety ‘Royal Carpet’ grows 3 to 5 inches high.  The flowers of both varieties are sweetly scented.

CANDYTUFT: Dwarf Fairy mix is an annual (one season) variety that flowers in about 8 to 10 weeks.  This colorful annual flower blooms in pastel colors; only grows about 10 inches high, and makes a great border or edging plant.

CLARKIA: Elegans Double Choice mix is an old-time favorite.  It grows about 18 to 24 inches high so it’s great for bedding, mass planting, or it is very effective just scattered in flower borders.  The double flowers appear on graceful stems in shades of pink, red, purple and white.  Great for cutting.

CLEOME: Spider flower mix is a wonderful 4 feet high plant to use for background plantings or as an accent plant in the summer garden.  Flower range from white to pink, and are long lasting and scented.

COSMOS: An all-time favorite.  The many new types are exceptionally easy to grow.  Sensation mix is the typical 3 to 4 feet tall single-flowering variety.  Sonata mix is the dwarf 2 feet growing one, and Seashell is the 4 to 5 feet tall variety with unique, exotic, tubular flowers.  Bright Lights grows 2 ½ to 3 feet and flowers in bright yellow, gold, orange and red shades.  All of these outstanding varieties merit a place in the summer and fall flower garden.

DAHLIAS: Our dwarf Unwins mix is one of the best varieties.  It only grows about 1 ½ to 2 feet tall, and comes in a broad range of colors.  Showy in the garden and the plants provide excellent cut flowers.

GODETIA: The Double Azalea mix is a must in our garden. Very easy to grow.  The long lasting flowers make quite a show in groups, or when massed in flower beds. Plants grow about 15 to 18 inches high.

MALLOW: Lavatera trimestris mix has large, satiny flowers on 3 ½ to 4 feet plants.  Flowers are mostly in pink shades.  Plants are ideal for background or accent plants.  Plants grow quickly and bloom prolifically.

MARIGOLDS: We particularly like the Starfire Signet which has small, bright, single flowers.  It grows only 8 to 12 inches high.  Excellent for borders or in group plantings. Petite mix only grows 6 to 8 inches high and is a top-notch border variety.  Crackerjack is the tall variety with large flowers.  It grows 2 ½ to 3 feet high and comes in shades of yellow, gold, and orange.  It’s ideal for background plantings.

NASTURTIUMS: There are a whole bunch of varieties, but one of my favorites is Alaska (dwarf single) with its distinctive variegated green and white foliage.  Glorious Gleam (trailing/spreading mix) is a wonderful trailing variety for containers or hillside plantings.  Dwarf Jewel mix is ideal for borders, spot color or mass plantings.  Plus, there are numerous other popular varieties.

POPPIES: The newer varieties of California poppies come in a wide variety of colors, are very easy to grow, and only grow 12 to 18 inches high.  Shirley poppy is another showy type that comes in shades of pink, rose, and red.  It grows about 2 ½ feet high.  Poppies do not like to be transplanted, so always sow the seeds directly into the garden.

SUNFLOWERS: There are so many great new varieties.  Mammoth Grey Stripe is the old popular 6 to 12 feet variety.  Its huge yellow flowers make it a real conversation piece.  Autumn Beauty and Red Sun are new 4 to 6 feet varieties with medium sized flowers that are ideal for cutting.  Incredible is a dwarf variety with large single flowers and Sungold dwarf has double flowers on 16 to 24 inch plants.

Here are just a few other favorites that are very easy to direct seed into the garden in May and June:

COREOPSIS, Tinctoria mix
FORGET-ME-NOT, all varieties
LOBELIA, both compact bush and Color Cascade trailing mix
LOVE-IN-A-MIST, Nigella damascena
NEMOPHILA insignis, Baby Blue Eyes
PAINTED DAISY, Merry mix
STATICE, Limonium sinuatum mix
STOCK, dwarf Ten Week mix
STRAWFLOWER, Helichrysum, Semi Dwarf Bouquet mix
TITHONIA, Mexican Sunflower
VIRGINIA STOCKS, Malcomia maritima
ZINNIA, California Giants, Sprite (semi-dwarf),Tumbelina (dwarf)

All are easy to direct sow during the months of May and June. Simply follow sowing instructions on the back of the seed packet.

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