One of the quickest and easiest ways to get some colour in your garden is also one of the cheapest!  Packets of Annual seeds can be bought in the supermarket, garden centre or high street homeware store for a couple of pounds a packet and they literally can provide hundreds of colourful flowers in just 1 packet! And if you sow some now you will get early colour next Spring through to the Autumn!

What is an Annual?

Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in 1 year. Summer annuals grown from seed will flower all summer and then the plant will usually die with the first frosts in the Autumn. They are a great gap filler between shrubs and perennials; working really hard for you during the Summer putting on a great display. They then do you a great favour! Once the flowers fade they set seed which drops to the soil creating plants and flowers for you again next year! And it’s this seed dropping we are mimicking by sowing seeds in the Autumn!

It’s all in the preparation . . .

  • 1st weed the area that you are going to sow to taking out anything you don’t want however big or small (it might not be that easy to weed for a few weeks as all seedling tend to lo the same!)
  • If your soil is quite dry water it now so you don’t wash away the seeds when watering after sowing.
  • Then rake over the area to break up the soil particles and give you a level area
  • If you’re sowing several different types of seed, consider mixing them up to sow a random selection. Look at the expected heights to help you gauge. I tend to mix two blends according to height and sow the taller plants at the back of the border and the smaller plants towards the front.

There are 2 different sowing techniques depending on how neat and tidy you like to be!:

  • No. 1 is very random: you liberally sprinkle the seeds over your area with your fingers. Once sown gently rake the soil again to cover up the seeds. It will be hard to distinguish your seedlings from weeds when they grow so this may not suit everyone!
  • No. 2 is more controlled: draw a line in the soil with your finger or a bamboo cane and sprinkle the seed along the groove you have made. This could be a straight line or a curved one. Rake the soil back over the groove when sown. When the seedlings appear you will see the line and know they are plants as opposed to weeds!

If it doesn’t rain you will need to water your seedlings in the coming weeks. They may began to poke their heads out of the ground within a couple of weeks, but as it’s colder at this time of the year it may well take a bit longer.  If they are bunched up together in places thin them out by snipping the emerging stems off with scissors. This gives the others more room to grow and doesn’t disturb their root growth.

You should see plants and flowers in late Spring to early Summer. By then you should be able to distinguish the plants you want from the weeds!  Deadhead the flowers with scissors or by pinching them off with your fingers throughout the summer to encourage the plant to flower some more. Leave the flowers in place as we get to September though so you get your free seeds for next year!

Just have a go – it’s dead easy and kids love sowing seeds too and they also love seeing all the different sizes and shapes of seeds.

Here’s a video of me demonstrating the 2 sowing techniques!