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Annuals for seasonal colour

Sep 10, 2007
Annuals- Are bright flowering plants that complete their life cycle from seed to flower and back to seed again in a single growing season. The range in flower foliage colour and for is endless and there’s a perfect plant for every place. Although spring and autumn are the main planting months, seed and seedlings are available throughout the year to bring charm interest and colours to beds, baskets, pots and vases. Always choose vatieties to suit the situation- full sun ( all day), semi shade ( dappled sun or shade during the heat of the day ) or shade ( very little sun ). Also consider the height & spread of mature plants and the colour scheme ( toning, contrasting, high impact, mass effect etc. )

SEED SOWING AND CARE OF SEEDLINGS

Seeds contain minute embryonic plants that require continuous warmth and moisture to germinate. Use ‘seedling soil’ or prepare your own using equal parts of garden loam, river sand and well- decomposed sifted compost. A good growing medium must be loose, weed free and drain well, yet retain sufficient moisture for seeds to germinate. Level the soil in trays or beds without compacting it & water well ( damp not soaking). Sow seeds thinly and evenly on top of soil ( mix fine seed with a little sifted sand for easier distribution) Don’t cover fine seed, merely press the surface gently. Larger seeds should be covered with a thin layer of growing medium and gently firmed. Watering is crucial. The soil surface should never dry out during germination. Water trays from below allowing water to seep upwards. Use a very fine spray on beds. Cover trays with glass or plastics or place inside a clear plastic bag to retain moisture. Put trays in a warm place but not in direct sun. A weekly application of liquid organic fertilizer is highly beneficial. Gradually expose seedlings to more sunlight . Transport seedlings when they are small and sturdy. Certain varieties of seed are better sown directly where they are to grow eg. Cosmos, nasturtiums, marigolds, eschscholzia, larkspur, Namaqualand daisies etc. Follow the same principals of soil preparation and thin out where necessary.

Preparing flower beds for seedlings

Correct soil preparation is essential for success. Bedding plants grow quickly to complete their life cycle and require rich friable soil.
Dig over the area to at least forks depth remove weeds and stones and break up clods.
Incorporate at least 5 cm compost or well- rotted manure and 90g superphosphate. Mix well and water lightly. Water seedling in their trays before transplanting in the late afternoon.
Ease seedlings out with root ball intact.
Use a towel to make holes and plant at the same depth as before .
Firm the soil gently around each plant.
Water thoroughly and gently with a fine mist spray- twice a day at first and gradually increasing time between watering.
Much between plants to keep soil cool and damp and provide shade to young seedlings in the heat of the day if necessary.
Fertilise every two weeks with 3:1:5, 2:3:2 or multifeed flowergrow.
Pinch out shoot tips to encourage business.
Remove dead flower heads regularly to promote continued flowering.

Courtesy of lifestyle

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