Sum­mer an­nu­als

Choose from a range of sum­mer show-offs, whether bright and ra­di­ant or soft and sub­tle.

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Summer Garden -

An­nu­als are es­sen­tial in the sum­mer gar­den, par­tic­u­larly the mul­ti­hued and jewel-toned: zin­nias, nas­tur­tiums, dou­ble paeony pop­pies ( Pa­paver som­niferum), cos­mos, petunias and marigolds. Paler flow­ers, like lavat­era and sea laven­der, are great too.


Cheap to sow, cheer­ful in bloom and sen­sa­tional in big ar­range­ments, sun­flow­ers can be sown from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber for flow­ers through­out sum­mer and au­tumn. Branch­ing va­ri­eties have up to 18 flow­ers per plant com­pared to just one for sin­gle-stemmed va­ri­eties.


Agrostemma githago is a cot­tage gar­den favourite, pro­duc­ing lilac-pink blooms all sum­mer long. It's a hardy an­nual, grow­ing up 150cm high and great for pick­ing. Flow­ers last 5-7 days in the vase. For long­est vase life, har­vest when 1-2 flow­ers on the stem are open.


Cal­lis­te­phus chi­nen­sis has bril­liant colours and pro­lific blooms from late sum­mer through au­tumn. Plants have dou­ble or sin­gle flow­ers in pink, pur­ple, laven­der, red, yel­low or white and grow 30-100cm high, de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety. Great for pick­ing.


Nigella dam­a­s­cena is a hardy an­nual with ei­ther white or corn­flower-blue petals and a ruff of finely di­vided leaf-like bracts that form a mist around the flow­ers. If that's not enough to grab your at­ten­tion, each bloom, af­ter flow­er­ing, forms a fat green and bur­gundy striped seed pod which is equally strik­ing. Both pods and flow­ers can be cut for the vase. To col­lect seeds, pick the ripe seed pods and place in a pa­per bag and let the seeds fall out on their own.


The tough peren­ni­als Li­mo­nium perezii and Li­mo­nium lat­i­folium, and their pa­pery an­nual cousin, Li­mo­nium sin­u­a­tum, are ter­rific hot sea­son sub­sti­tutes for gyp­sophila. They thrive all sum­mer, even when the go­ing gets tough, and look lovely fresh in the vase as well as dried for ev­er­last­ing ar­range­ments. An­nual stat­ice is avail­able in a rainbow of colours; the peren­ni­als in shades of pur­ple. All pre­fer well-drained, sandy loam.

Some of the long­est-last­ing cut flow­ers are an­nu­als. Many, like stat­ice and the seed pods of love-in-a-mist, dry well too.

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