- Flower Introduction >Hardy Annuals
A hardy annual may be described as a plant that is raised from seed, and which matures and dies in the same year. The seed may be sown where the plants are to flower, and the seedlings thinned to appropriate distances as soon the second pair of natural leaves appear. The time for sowing is usually in late March or early April when the sun, gaining greater strength, has warmed the soil.
The seed may be sown under glass in early February and the seedlings pricked off into boxes or pots and planted out-doors in May.
Site is important. Most annuals are sun worshippers and like a position in full sun. where there is exposure to a strong prevailing wind the taller annuals will require some form of protection, al lattice fence, hedge or a shrub plantation to form a wind-break.
Seed sown under glass, not necessarily in heat, requires rather more care and attention, seed-boxes, two and half inches deep, of the standard size, or shallow pans are very suitable for the purpose. Too much emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of perfect cleanliness.
Sterilization of the soil may be done quite easily without purchasing any special apparatus. The material required is a metal contained to hold water. A large saucepan is very suitable. A small metal container that will fit into the saucepan allowing a margin of about two inches at the side is needed, and dome means of heating, a gas stove or jet being the most serviceable. The saucepan is half filled with water which is brought to boiling-point. Into this is placed the smaller container, filled with water soil, taking care that the water from the saucepoan does not enter it. When the soil is heated through to 180 degree to 200 farnenheat. It should be kept at this temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, and then emptied on a clean surface to cool rapidly, before using for making up the compost.
There is a third method of growing hardy annuals. The seed may be sown in the open in late summer or early autumn with the advantage of obtaining earlier flowers of greater vigour and more floriferous habit in the following season. The risk of loss from the attacks of pests such as slugs and snails is greater, but if one of the reliable slug killers now available is used little anxiety need be felt.
It is very important to select the best time for sowing. The farther north, the earlier one must sow. Also where the soil is only of moderate fertility it will be quite safe to sow in early September, or even earlier.
Where , however, the soil is rich, sowing should not be attempted before mid-October. If sown earlier the richness of the soil may cause the seedlings to make soft and sappy growth that will suffer irreparable damage during a severe winter. Too much emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of sowing the seed thinly so that the seedlings need not be transplanted before the following spring, when they can be removed to their flowering position; it is not desirable to transplant at a period just prior to winter. Should the seedlings be too close it is better to thin out than to transplant at that season.
Throughout the whole of their growth it is important to remove all weeds as they appear so that the seedlings may have the best possible chance. It will be necessary to provide some support for the taller annuals. For those of a bushy habit, short, twiggy peasticks are the more serviceable. For those of tall and slender growth, thin bamboo canes, painted green, are suitable. These may be split if too thick.