Well, folks. It’s not been a good morning. It’s still cold and rainy, and I woke to find that I’d somehow managed to chip my tooth in my sleep? Ugh. Oh well, Blog-tober must go on. As you may or may not know, my goal is to make a post somewhere on the blog everyday this month – so if you’ve missed the first two posts, feel free to browse around. Now, onto the good stuff.
One thing that I hear on Instagram pretty frequently is that people seem to “dream” about fields of flowers and whatnot. The fact of the matter is, you don’t need a giant field (I certainly don’t have one!) to enjoy the beauty of your own little cutting patch. Regardless of whether of not you want to grow to make arrangements for yourself, or for the wildlife, there are some really easy options that I believe almost anyone can master.
Each of the flowers listed below are sowed directly into my garden after the last frost and the soil has warmed. Since my summers are hot and humid, the plants listed below thrive here. If you live in a milder climate, these selections may not be the best options for you.
Bright Lights Cosmos – These cosmos, I think, are one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. As I found out this year, these seem to tolerate even the worst of soils. Some people may not find the plants appealing, but I love their light, airy attitudes. This, combined with bright orange flowers, makes this an automatic winner. You can find a more detailed review of these here. The only notable issue with bright lights is that once their blooming period has ceased and they have created seed, the plant dies back rather quickly. This can be remedied by a round of aggressive trimming – I usually take the weed-eater and mow over all the spent blooms, leaving about a foot tall plant to re-bloom (if there’s time). A couple of succession plantings is also a viable option.
Celosia – Celosia is another heat loving annual that I wouldn’t want to be without. Even in my clay river silt, the plants were robust and put on a show of amazing color. While many growers in the northwest may have to grow this one undercover for the extra warmth, these beauties flourish here in Kentucky – and with so many choices, I’m all in! There are multiple types of celosia which come in an amazing array of colors, from dark burgundy to neon yellows (squeal!). Cockscomb, or crested celosia, produces those wonderful “brain-like” flowers that you may have seen previously, here. Next, and one of my favorites, is plume celosia. Plumes have feathery look, as you can imagine – they truly remind me of the plumage of some kind of tropical, exotic bird. There are some seriously gorgeous varieties of plume celosia, and if I had the space – I would plant every single one of them. Last but not least, we have celosia spicata. These are branching celosia, and usually have smaller more tubular flowers. Regardless of the celosia you choose, I’m almost certain there’s something to suit everyone. Celosia are an absolute insect magnet. At a few points during the year, the celosia patch was almost impassible, as bumble bees had taken up residence. Later in the year, Pennsylvania Leatherwings had invaded, though they didn’t seem to cause any damage.
Amaranth – Amaranth has made an appearance in my garden since the very first time that I planted vegetables. To this day, it’s still one of my absolute favorites. There are tons of choices, both dwarf and tall – and they come in a literal rainbow of colors (check out ‘Joseph’s Coat’ if you don’t believe me). While some varieties are raised for grain (these are the varieties I grow for cut flowers), others are raised as vegetables, and have gorgeous variegated foliage. Both choices are ideal for the first time cutting garden. However, be warned, once you have amaranth, it’s likely that it will be around for a very long time. In fact, I’m still getting volunteers from my first garden, 5ish years ago. To me, this is a great quality, but I do realize that others may not want amaranth growing from the cracks in their sidewalks every spring!
Sunflowers – I couldn’t make this list without including sunflowers. I realize that some people don’t like them, but I refuse to readily believe that. For whatever reason, I think a lot of people dislike them because they ARE so easy to grow and common. But, I truly believe that everything (and everyone) is beautiful in one way or another – and we’ve got to appreciate that, folks! The fact is, there are hundreds of options when it comes to sunflowers. Pollenfree, with pollen, yellow, red, fluffy, double – how are you going to be mad about that!? I’ll get off my soapbox, but I’m just saying – give them a chance, you just might like them. You can read tons of info about sunflowers, here. Once fall hits, the birds seem to believe that my sunflower patch is their own little slice of heaven!
Zinnias – Last but not least, these are the flowers that started it all. One small package of zinnia seeds started my slippery slide into flower madness, so proceed at your own will! Salmon, red, pink, white, yellow, orange, purple – possibly almost every color except blue – and don’t forget all the bicolor and peppermint looking types! I grow the tall varieties for cutting (obviously) and they have absolutely no problem reaching over 6ft. tall in my summer heat. These beauties will bloom profusely and are easily planted in succession if you want to keep swimming in those big blooms. ‘Benary’s Giant’ produces some monster sized double flowers, which I often drool over when I see them online. However, there are some downsides. If you deal with Japanese beetles in your area, zinnias are one of the prime targets. Bug damage can be extremely frustrating, but luckily the plants always recover once the buggies have come and gone. Lastly, once the weather starts to cool down in the fall, the powdery mildew will hit and your once beautiful zinnias will be left looking pretty gross (just in time for fall bulbs, teehee!).
What’s at the top of your list of easiest summer annuals to grow? Let me know in the comments! Hope you have a great day, and feel free to subscribe to catch more of Blog-tober! Much love!