The very best annuals are those that self-sow… At least that’s my opinion as a laidback gardener. You sow them the first year, directly in the ground where you want them to grow, in either early spring or mid-autumn, then they come back year after year from seeds that fall to the ground around the mother plant. Compared to the more common bedding annuals you have to start indoors and transplant into the garden year after year, it’s much less work! And much less expense too!
Obviously, for annuals to be able to self-sow, you need to do two things.
First, don’t deadhead them. After all, if you suppress their fading flowers, where will next year’s seeds come from?
Secondly, leave at least a few spaces free of mulch. Mulch is a great product and I use it abundantly, but it does prevent seeds from germinating.
Annuals That Self-Sow
Here are a few of the annuals that self-sow faithfully for me:
Amaranthus (Amaranthus caudatus)
Annual Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum carinatum and C. coronarium)
Bachelor’s button (Centaurea cyanus)
Balsamine (Impatiens balsamina)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Blue Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
Blue Woodruff (Asperula orientalis)
California Popply (Eschscholzia californica)
Chinese Forget-me-Not (Cynoglossum amabile)
Clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata)
Cleome (Cleome hasslerana)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)
Corncockle (Agrostemma githago)
Cosmidium (Cosmidium burridgeanum)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus and C. sulphureus)
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)
Gilia (Gilia capitata and G. tricolor)
Godetia (Clarkia amoena)
Larkspur (Consolida ambigua, C. regalis, formerly Delphinium)
Lavatera (Lavatera trimestris)
Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella spp.)
Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor and I. nil)
Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Painted Sage (Salvia viridis)
Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
Perilla (Perilla frutescens)
Poached Egg Plant (Limanthes douglasii)
Policeman’s Helmet (Impatiens glandulifera)
Portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora)
Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Scarlet Flax (Linum grandiflorum)
Shirley Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Sweet Scabious (Scabiosa atropurpurea)
Sweetpea (Lathyrus odoratus)
Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
Thorowax (Bupleurum rotundifolium)
White Lace Flower (Orlaya grandiflora)
I have: Amaranthus (Amaranthus caudatus), Blue Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia)*, Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor and I. nil), Viola- Jonnie-Jump up, Perilla (Perilla frutescens), Sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Good article.
* I got the Blue Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia), for the long nectar flow, of about six weeks. Got Blue Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia) from Hoss tools.
My alyssum naturalized from seed in a small envelope of mixed wildflowers that I found in a gardening magazine in a pharmacy waiting room before I knew how to read anything in the magazine. It is still going.
I never deadhead mine, and they have come back each year. In Texas this year, there is an early spring and my landscape has turned into a blooming nightmare, all at once. The Bee’s have not shown yet, but the Butterflies’ are amassing.
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