Turn your garden into a floral dreamscape with these easy-to-grow annuals which will keep blooming right until the first autumn frosts.
Ah, spring – the season when we fall head over heels in love with our gardens again. It starts in September with the first flirtatious blossoms, gets serious in October with the arrival of tulips, then by November, it’s all on. There’s no reason this passion can’t continue until autumn. Inspired by seed seller Susie Ripley’s gorgeous selection of blooms, I’ve compiled a list of easy summer annuals you can sow in the garden or in pots that will flower their socks off all summer long.
These heat-loving summer blooms cope well with dry, hot weather. Choose from a paintbox palette of single colours ranging from hot tomato to pink, salmon, mustard and lime or go for blends of colours such as ‘Queen Lime Orange’ or paint-splattered ‘Candy Cane’. Dead-head spent blooms regularly for flowers all summer long.
There’s something kind of noir and grown up about a moody mahogany coloured sunflower. Look for velvety brown ‘Chocolate Cherry’ or ‘Bronze Shades’, a mix of brown and terracotta. Red sunflowers are all the rage on Instagram right now and ‘Procot Plum’ is only available from Susie Ripley Gardening (I’ve been quick to order mine before you do!) Remember, they ain’t called sunflowers for nothing – sow them in a spot with plenty of it.
3 Wild Carrot
If you’re a fan of cottagecore, the internet aesthetic celebrating a return to the simple life (think floaty dresses and making butter from scratch), then Daucus carota is the flower for you! Lacy umbelliferous blooms sit atop 120cm stems. Go for white or burgundy varieties such as ‘Chocolate Lace Flower’ or ‘Purple Kisses’.
For maximum romantic impact, this summer bloom looks best grown in drifts. You can purchase punnets of traditional pink and white cosmos from garden centres or grow some of the delectable new varieties from seed. My top picks for this summer are zingy ‘Apricot-Lemonade’, which is lemon on top with a peach underskirt, and ruffled, claret-coloured ‘Double Click Cranberries’.
5 Annual phlox
Bees and butterflies will flock to phlox. This sweet-scented Texan native grows to 50cm high and prefers well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Go for varieties in antique shades such as ‘Cherry Caramel’, a tea-coloured phlox with cherry-coloured centres, or white-and-pink-flushed ‘Blushing Bride’, which is a rather unappealing name from a feminist perspective but it smells like a combination of melons and lilacs, so hey.
Growing flowers from seed is easier than you might think. The hard part is agonising over which ones to grow!
Dunedin seed seller Susie Ripley says that growing summer annuals (flowers that set seed and die in their first year) should be as easy as chucking them in the ground. Most seeds should be planted as deep as the seed is wide but others need light to germinate and can just be sprinkled on top of the soil. Consult the back of your seed packet for sowing depths, or check online.
Susie’s top tip is to use seeds the year you buy them. “Don’t leave half a packet of seeds for next year. Sow them all in one go or share and swap them with friends.”
Susie also recommends sowing seeds in a few different areas of your garden as sometimes it may be that conditions in a particular spot prevent germination.
Check out Susie’s range of seeds at susieripleygardening.com, including her gorgeous gift boxes of curated selections.