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HOW TO GROW ANNUALS (FLOWER SEEDLINGS) 

Annuals are plants that germinate from seed, grow and flower in a single season before setting new seeds and dying. Many of the most popular garden flowers are annuals that can be grown from seed or by planting out seedlings sold as young plants in cavity trays. 

They are all very seasonal, some only grow in the cool winter months whilst others prefer the heat of summer. A few can be grown all year round. Most annuals grow best in full sun yet some cope with relative shade. Always select the correct annuals for your gardening needs.

PLANTING PROCEDURES

– Prepare the soil by digging over deeply with garden fork
– Add superphosphate root stimulating fertiliser and compost at recommended rates
– Dig into soil and mix thoroughly
– Rake soil to correct level
– Gently remove seedlings from tray or punnet
– Carefully untangle some of the matted roots
– Dig a small hole with a trowel and place the seedling in it
– Fill in around the root ball and firm soil down gently
– Make sure the plant is buried at the same level as it was growing in the tray
– Once planting is complete water well to settle in

FERTILISING AND CARE

– After planting a layer of mulch around the seedlings keeps the roots cool and repels weeds
– Regular fertilising with a water soluble plant food at 2 weekly intervals ensures healthy plants – a 3:1:6   formula is best
– Pinch out the growth tips of tall, lanky plants to encourage basal branching (only applies to
  certain plants)
– Dead head spent flowers by removing the flower stalk and developing seed capsule
– Prune back any plants that get straggly or untidy
– At the end of each season pull out plants that are coming to an end and replant with fresh seedlings

PESTS AND DISEASES

– Aphids gather on the soft new growth tips and suck the sap out of the plant – control with a general insecticide
– Caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers chew the leaves – treat with a systemic insecticide
(only suitable for use on non-edibles)
– Red spider mites are a problem on some plants in summer – use a suitable miticide
– Fungal diseases like mildew and rust on the leaves – spray with a broad spectrum fungicide
– Cutworms chew seedlings off at ground level ; apply Cutworm bait immediately after planting or drench newly planted seedlings with a general insecticide
– Snails and slugs are nocturnal pests that eat the lush young leaves – apply snail bait at regular intervals

GARDEN USES

Ideal for mass bedding (lots of annuals all in one flower bed)
– Good for rock gardens and mixed flower borders
– Important components in mixed hanging baskets
– Eye catching in pots and containers, both large and small
– Some specific annuals add colour to shaded areas to lighten the dark

SUMMARY

1. Always make sure that the seedlings are seasonally correct
2. Only plant out fresh, healthy, vigorous plants
3. Prepare the planting soil thoroughly and feed regularly
4. Check often for pests and diseases
5. Dead head spent flowers