Annual Flowers from Seed (2018)

This year, as I was starting some herbs, I had a few extra peat pellets left, and I figured I would try to start a few annual flowers again. I’ve made a bit of an attempt over the years, and this will be no different. Depending on the money situation, I will likely buy any bedding plants, but these will hopefully add a bit of homegrown colour and interest to the garden.

 

Lavatera – My grandma grew this almost every year without fail. She would have this huge stand of these beautiful pink flowers along the back side (south facing) of her house. And every year she would save seed from them for the next year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2016.

  • ‘Silvercup’Lavatera
  • “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 10cm (4″) flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown”

Cosmos – I grew these along with the veggies back when we had the greenhouse garden to use (before we realized JUST how bat-*&$% crazy the owners of the property were). The beneficial bugs loved them, and so did I, so I figured it was worth a shot again in my backyard this year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Early Sensation Mix’Cosmos
  • “So easy to grow they seem to thrive on neglect! Daisy-like 9cm (3 1/2″) blooms in crimson, rose, pink and white are enhanced by yellow centers, held high on graceful fern-like foliage. Exceptionally beautiful in beds, borders and background planting.”

Asters – These are new to me. I got them many years ago with the intent of growing them, but the seed packet sat there unopened until now.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Powder Puffs’ Aster
  • “Tremendous double flowers, 8-10cm (3-4″) in diameter, grow upright on long sturdy stems. Lovely bouquet-type habit makes it an excellent cut flower. Resists wilt. By picking off faded blooms, you will prolong the flowering season.”

I sowed these (4 of Lavatera, 4 of Cosmos, and 3 of Asters) on April 8, 2018. There may be more if this snow keeps up and I need a small bit of hope of  the summer to come.

Update before I make this post live (April 26):

  • The Aster’s still haven’t germinated. So I think the seeds were too old
  • The majority of the Cosmos have germinated and are currently working on their first true leaves.
  • The Lavatera had spotty germination. One is doing well, a few more germinated but didn’t manage to break their seed leaves through the hard seed shell. I think I have another packet of seeds that I may try to direct sow, but my lavatera dreams may have to wait until next year.

 

 

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Wildflower “Butterfly Garden” Mix

In my quest to grow more flowers last year, I picked up a wildflower mix. It is a “Butterfly mix”. A few years ago I think I picked up a Bee-garden mix, and was looking for it again, but could not find it. Along with the butterfly mix, there was also a hummingbird garden mix and an old fashioned garden mix. However, I didn’t get around to sowing the packet. I got distracted by tomatoes.

The seed packet description reads: “The butterfly mixture contains a blend of delightfully fragrant and colorful flowers that attract nearby Butterflies while adding beauty to your garden.”

I thought it would be a good idea to de-code the “contents” names that are only in the latin/botanical name.

  • Alyssum maritimum: Sweet Alyssum or Sweet Allison. This is one I’m not particularly familar with. It is a member of the brassica family though, and native to the Meditarinian. Annual
  • Calendula officinalis: Calendula, or Pot Marigold. This is a self-seeding annual or a short-lived perennial. 
  • Centaurea cyanus: Bachelor’s Button or Cornflower. Annual
  • Cheiranthus allionii: Siberian Wallflower. Biennial
  • Coreopsis tinctoria: Golden Tickseed or Plains Coreopsis. Annual
  • Cynoglossum amabile: Chinese Forget-Me-Not. Annual
  • Delphinium consolida: Field Larkspur (Until I did some googling, I just expected this one to be regular perennial Delphinium, but according to the internet, it is an annual wildflower variety. Annual  (NOTE…. Do not eat or allow any animals to eat. Very Poisonous)
  • Dianthus barbatus: Sweet William. Biennial 
  • Echinacea purpurea: Purple Coneflower, Purple Echinacea. Annual
  • Eschscholzia californica: California Poppy. Perennial in warm areas, Annual in colder areas.
  • Gypsophila elegans: Baby’s Breath. Annual
  • Leucanthemum x superbum: Shasta Daisy. Perennial
  • Linum grandiflorum rubum: Scarlet Flax or Red Flax. Annual
  • Linum perenne: Blue Flax or Perennial Flax. Perennial
  • Rudbeckia hirta: Black Eyed Susan. Biennial (Some warmer areas- Perennial, some colder areas-Annual)
  • Silene armeria: Sweet William Catch-fly. Perennial in Zone 5-8, so probably Annual here.

Last year, I also received in the mail the Honey Nut Cheerios “Bring Back the Bees” Wildflower seed mix, And a pack of wildflower seeds from Bees Matter. And just like the pack above, I did not get around to sowing them. I like that the Bees Matter pack included the varieties they included in the pack. I will hopefully get these sown this year as well.

While I appreciate Honey Bees, they are not native here. If they want to come check out my flowers that is awesome, but I am growing them more for ANY pollinators that want to visit, and not just Honey Bees.


 

This is some of the seeds in the “Butterfly garden” Mix

Summer Bulbs

Despite my late start to gardening this year, I am not lacking any enthusiasm. The ultra cold spring we are having (As I am starting the writing of this post, we have a snowfall warning of 10-15cm of snow) is really helping the dream of summer… and the hope that mother nature will make up for this terrible spring with a beautiful summer and long, warm fall.

As I have been picking up gardening bits here and there, I’ve been splurging on some bulbs for some hopeful color in the garden this year. As I am buying them, I’ll add them here and post once there is a handful for you to read about. Any tips for success with any of these, OR others I should try to find for my garden, please leave a comment.

First up, – Gladiolus  I never remember to pull my bulbs at the end of the summer. Maybe this year will be the year. But the tall spikes of beautiful flowers always remind me of my grandma, and my great grandma, and I try to grow some every year, (but their success varies from year to year).  This year, I just bought a mixed pack of 10 for $3.50, at Superstore. If I get some time to care more for them this year, then I may splurge on some fancier bulbs in the future that have names and known colour.

‘Blue Poppy’ Anemone De Caen  – These were too beautiful to pass up, and I can hardly wait to see them in person. I’ve never grown them before, so any tips and tricks you can share in the comments would be very welcome. These are from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99

‘Bouton de Rose’ -Novelty Begonia – I’ve never grown begonias before either, but I always fall in love with them in the garden centres. So I figured this year was the year to finally try them. I’ve been on the hunt for part-shade plants for the front yard that only receives morning sunlight. Like the above Anemone, this is also from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99 for the bulb.

Pink Calla Lily  – I grabbed this at Lowes when I was grabbing some Seed-Starting mix that was on sale there. I grew some Calla Lilies on a whim when I was still living at home, and they were so beautiful. I’m not sure why its taken me so long to try them again.

Cobaea ‘Cathedral Bells’

With the piles of snow outside, I thought it might be nice to go back to some things I grew last year (or even previous to that) and recount the experience.

Pronounced  Ko-Bee-Uh, it is also sometimes referred to as Cup & Saucer Vine or  Monastery Vine.

Some quick googling tells me that this is only hardy to Zone 9-10. I figured it was worth the risk last year, since we started the year off so warm. And usually, if something is impossible to grow here, then they don’t sell it here.

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I started them inside early because whether it was warm or not, we are still only a zone 3/4 (or 5-ish on a good year).

Since the seedlings were much larger than I anticipated, I ended up potting them up much sooner than I normally would. (3 into party cups on April 11, and the remaining 6 into party cups on April 17th… would have been sooner, but I needed to buy more potting soil and cups)

These things grew fantastic… They cling onto nearly anything. I had one climbing up a bare 4×4 fence post. It did not need any trellising to climb. They did not seem to like the teepee of smooth bamboo canes.

While they grew fantastic. I didn’t get any flowers… Our summer was cool and dry when it is normally warm and wet… and then hot and wet, when it is normally starting to cool. And then the cold just kind of came in with a bang. 2016 was weird. I had these planted in 4 different areas. They definitely need as much sun as possible. Morning shade with hot afternoon sun was great for them. The 2 plants I put into the area that gets morning sun and evening shade did not fare well. This may be partly due to soil, but I think they just need the heat (being that they are from a hot climate).

Will I try these again? Possibly. They were pretty tenacious and I like that. But I might wait for a different year when I’m feeling more ambitious to try new and different things.

I didn’t keep any pictures I may have taken of them growing to share with you now. If they had flowered, there probably would have been tons of photos.

Have you grown these? Share your experiences in the comments below.