ANNUALS TO GROW FROM SEED

The end of the growing season might seem like a strange time to be talking about growing things from seed, but I find it to be a time to take stock in the garden. I've had a whole summer to figure out what worked and what didn't and yes, I'm already making mental lists about what I'll start from seed next year.

First, I'll just say that I feel like there are parts of the garden that look better this year than they ever have. I credit that to all of the annuals I grew from seed (for the first time). I was able to fill holes cheaply and easily and annuals just keep giving and giving. 

So here are some of the annuals you can bet I'll be growing from seed again next year.


1. SIGNET MARIGOLD

I knew I liked this little sweetheart of a plant because I'd purchased plants at our master gardener plant sale before. But growing it en masse made me fall even more in love with it. This is by far the most hands-off annual I think I've ever grown. In the areas where I kept it well watered, it needed no deadheading and when it got a little floppy, I cut if off by half and it just bloomed more. These plants are still covered in flowers and have been nonstop since sometime in June. Even better, they have a citrusy smell that makes them lovely to brush up against and unsavory to critters. And the feathery foliage is a great texture accent all on its own. It comes in yellow, orange and red and I'll grow all three next year.

2. GOMPHRENA
Gomphrena (aka globe amaranth) is that little pink lollipop-looking plant. I love how it punctuates a garden bed.

This one was tricky to start. I bet I lost more than half of the plants I started, but the ones that pulled through have me enamored enough to add this one to next year's list. This is another easy-going plant (once you get it going). The flower last all season and I've not had to deadhead a one. What I love about it is that the adorable little balls are like little punctuation marks in the garden. The one change I would make is that this year I grew a lavender colored one and it's a bit wishy-washy for me. Next year I'll look for something a little brighter.

3. NASTURTIUM
Nasturtium 'Vesuvius'

I have shouted from the rooftops about my love affair with nasturtiums before and they'll probably always be on my must-grow list. The highlight this year for me was 'Vesuvius', which has small leaves and holds its many flowers well above the foliage. You know, so you can actually see them, unlike a few of the varieties I grew this year.

4. SWEET PEAS

This was my first year growing sweet peas and I'll admit, they have diva tendencies. Frankly, anything that smells this good and looks that beautiful, probably has earned the right to be a little picky. I'll put them in the same spot as well, right off the path from the garage where they were nose and eye level for anyone passing by. I also grew a dwarf, non-climbing variety that was beautiful in containers but pretty short lived so I'm not sure if that will be on next year's list.

5. CASTOR BEAN

 No annual in my garden has made as much of a statement as castor bean. I learned a few lessons in growing it, not the least of which was the stake it early, but now that I know that, I don't think I'll be without its bold good looks.

6. NICOTIANA ALATA 'LIME GREEN'

This plant combines well with just about everything, brings a much-needed cooling effect to the garden and just keeps going and going. I love it and it was well worth the space it took up in my seed-starting scheme.


And here's an annual I'd like to try growing: Stipa tenuissima, aka Mexican feather grass (it's that lovely feathery number up in the gomphrena photo). I bought a dozen of these plants this year and I love the look of them in the garden. I'll grow it again, but I'd love to be able to save a little by starting it myself. Since it reseeds readily in warmer zones (it's listed as an invasive plant in some places), I'm thinking it may not be too difficult to start from seed.

Verbena bonariensis
One annual I won't bother to grow from seed next year, at least not by starting it inside, is Verbena bonariensis. I did two sowings and both were complete failures. A nice reader gave me a tip to try winter sowing it in a milk jug, so I may give that a shot, but I had enough reseeders in the garden last year that I should be able to spread them around if I'm careful.

Do you already know what you'll grow from seed next year?


6 comments :

  1. Erin, Great minds think alike! I just posted about how under-rated annuals are, and how we should rely on them for color in an second half of the growing season. And I also wondered about growing less-common annuals -- you've given me some ideas to try next year. Thanks! -Beth

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  2. All of your choices are wonderful. I love them all. I've never grown castor bean before but now you have me thinking of where..... hmmm.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

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  3. I'm going to try and keep some nasturtium seeds as the one I grew is quite lovely with variegated leaves and multi-coloured blooms.

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  4. I don't do seeds because of lack of space. So justt buying annuals is a big deal for me. I will keep my eye out for that Nasturtium; prettiest one I've ever seen.

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  5. Yes, and I can hardly wait to get them started. I need things that cover a lot of territory. Amaranthus pops up quickly and gets very large, very fast. I like both the magenta and lime. I tried something new this year that I LOVED - Purple Violet Tubeflower, also big. I've never grown it from seed, so we'll see how that goes. Nasturtium and Nicotiana are always on my list as are Zinnias and Cleome. New for me will be Nigella and Verbena bonariensis, and thanks for the heads up on that one. I will be trying winter sowing this year, too. I will also look for the variety of Nasturtium you recommended. Wonderful post!

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  6. I totally agree, can't go a season without nasturtiums and sweet pea flowers! Really enjoyed this list. Going to have to try signet marigold and castor beans next year. Have a wonderful weekend!

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