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The simplest and easiest way to get a garden full of flowers is to buy annual bedding plants. They are called annuals because they live for just a year. They grow from seed in spring, flower in summer, then die back in late autumn. Then you simply pull them out and grow some more the following year.
Garden centres save you the bother of growing from seed by selling individual young plants called ‘plug’ plants in trays of 6 or 12 for just a couple of pounds. All you need to do is plant them in the ground towards the middle of May after the risk of frost has gone. Planting in tubs or containers works just as well. Then water them regularly and watch them grow!
Sounds simple—and it is—but which ones should you buy? There are a bewildering number of different types of plug plants to choose from!
Here are my top five favourites that are easy to grow and are guaranteed to flower their socks off all summer with little effort from you!
Geraniums are perhaps the easiest annual flowering plant to grow. So, if you are buying just one type of plant, then choose geraniums. They like to bake in full sun and are equally happy in the ground or tubs and containers.
Plant them around 9 inches apart. You can even grow geraniums individually in a pot on a sunny window ledge or in a conservatory. They are usually quite pest free, as slugs and snails don’t like them! Just make sure to water them regularly. Though even if you occasionally forget, it's OK, as they can tolerate dry conditions.
You can buy geraniums in different shades of reds, pinks and white. The flowers come out in a little ‘ball’ and last over a week. Once a flower ball starts to die back, then snip it off with scissors and another will take its place!
Petunias come in two different types: bushy and trailing. The bushy types are best for growing in the ground, forming a mound of flowers. The trailing types are best for hanging baskets and cascading over the sides of pots. They have long strands of flowers.
There are a whole host of colours to choose from: whites, pinks, reds, purples, blues and some that are multicoloured. So simply choose which is best for your situation.
You can pick off the dead flowers if you wish, but I never bother. If they start to look a little straggly, then I give them a good trim with shears just before I go on summer holiday—and by the time I get back, they are ready to burst into flower again. Slugs and snails leave them alone.
Busy Lizzies, or ‘Impatiens‘ to give them their proper name, are back in garden centres this year. They have been missing for a couple of years, as they contracted a type of mildew. A new disease-resistant Busy Lizzie has been developed, so all is well!
These little annuals are great ground cover. Plant them 9 inches apart, and they will soon all join up into a mass of red, pink and white flowers all summer long.
They prefer sun for half a day. So they are ideal for a spot where they get full sun for either the morning or afternoon. They have fleshy stems, so keep them protected from frost. Slugs and snails don’t like them!
Related to the sunflower, marigolds are the true essence of summer. Gold, orange and lemon flowerheads sparkling in the sun!
You can buy two types of marigold. The African marigold is taller, up to 2 feet in height with pom-pom shaped flowers. The French marigold is more compact and bushy, with the plants coming as wide as they are tall.
They grow just as well in pots and containers as in the ground. Just snip the flowers off with scissors when they start to die back. Slugs and snails do like to munch on a marigold when they are first planted out, so you will need to put some pellets out or go out after dark for a slug hunt!
Save a few dried seed heads over winter, and you can grow your own marigolds for free next year!
My final choice for easy-to-grow summer flowers is the snapdragon or ‘antirrhinum’. I remember staying at my great aunt’s during school summer holidays, and she used to grow snapdragons around 3 feet tall! Woe betide anyone who damaged them with a football!
Most varieties you buy now are much smaller and compact with several flowering spikes. They come in all colours of the rainbow: yellows, pinks, reds, whites, purples, oranges, etc.
They grow just about anywhere and even don’t mind if you forget to water them! They are slug and snail resistant. Just snip off the flower spikes once they go to seed and more will grow! They self-seed everywhere, so you may find you have another batch for free next year!
Question: Only 3 daffs bloomed this year, should I cut them now or tie them?
Answer: Just let daffs die back naturally and cut the leaves off when they go brown. I find that daffs in planters have 2 or 3 good years then stop flowering. At the end of summer, when they are dormant, dig one or two up and see what condition they are in. If they have turned soft and spongy then time to replace them with new!
Question: What about Nasturtiums, can you eat them in a salad?
Answer: They can be a lavish feast for caterpillars!
RTalloni on April 22, 2019:
Have never heard impatiens called busy Lizzies before...cute! Planning to pop some snapdragons in this week, and am looking for hard working zinnias to put in because snapdragons won't last through our hot summer.