Hardy annuals are the perfect way of creating colourful summer borders quickly and easily. You simply sow the seeds where you want the plants to flower, with no need for germinating indoors in pots with heat.
Many gardeners don’t have the facilities to grow half-hardy bedding plants, such as begonia, busy Lizzie, lobelia, petunia and salvia from seed, as they need to be sown indoors with heat. Others may not want to buy young plants to grow on or spend a fortune buying larger plants ready to plant out. That’s where hardy annuals come in.
Hardy annual seeds are sown directly outside. There are no fiddly sowing seeds in containers in propagators, pricking out the young seedlings, hardening off the plants and planting out. You simply sow the seed directly in the soil where you want the plants to grow and flower.
There are dozens of varieties to choose from, including Calendula (pot marigold), Eschscholzia (Californian poppy), Godetia, Linaria (toadflax), Lobularia (sweet alyssum), Nemophila and Nigella (love-in-a-mist).
Sowing hardy annuals
There are two basic ways of sowing hardy annuals.
You can either mark out areas of the bed with a bamboo cane or stick or dry sand and then broadcast sow drifts of each variety over the soil in each area. This gives a natural, ‘cottage garden’ look.
Alternatively, you can sow in rows in these marked out areas. This can make it easier to distinguish between flower and weed seedlings, as you know where the flowers have been sown. It does create a more rigid, formal look.
Hardy annuals can be sown any time in spring, providing weather and soil conditions are conducive for germination and most can also be sown in early autumn, for earlier flowering the following year.
Creating colour the easy way
An even simpler way of creating your colourful annual flower borders is to use one of the many flower seed products on the market, which range from seed tapes, seed packets or seed mats. All are easy to use and come in different colours and a mixed variety of plants. No need to choose what plants you want, where each plant needs to go, just follow the product instructions and wait for the first signs of your new colourful border to grow and the flowers to burst open!