An­nu­als for au­tumn

They are some of the showiest plants in the au­tumn gar­den. Plant them for piz­zazz.

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

No other plants can give your gar­den the splash of sea­sonal colour that an­nu­als do. And many are ideal for pick­ing, in­clud­ing ama­ran­thus, asters, gyp­sophila, cal­en­du­las, celosia, cleome, cos­mos, stock, hol­ly­hocks, salvias, scabiosa, sun­flow­ers and ver­be­nas.

COCKSCOMB

Celosia cristata has bizarrely shaped, wavy flow­ers that look like a rooster's comb – or some say brains. They can be dried for long-last­ing ar­range­ments. Sow seeds in spring in pots or trays and trans­plant when large enough. Celosia flow­ers from sum­mer through au­tumn.

IN THE COS­MOS

Cos­mos bip­in­na­tus is easy to grow and its showy flow­ers, in white, pink, cerise pale yel­low or or­ange, and bi-colour, can be picked by the arm­load. Dead­head reg­u­larly and they'll flower un­til the first frosts. Cos­mos likes full sun, and moist but free-drain­ing soil.

SCABIOSA Scabiosa at­rop­ur­purea

is an old-fash­ioned trea­sure, with tall stems and pink, pur­ple or bur­gundy blooms ap­pear­ing in sum­mer through to au­tumn. Grow in moist, well-drained soil in sun. Av­er­age soil is fine – they have a ten­dency to flop in overly rich soil.

SCAR­LET SAGE

Salvia splen­dens is a ten­der, herba­ceous peren­nial, though it's usu­ally treated as an an­nual. You'll find it in the pot­ted colour sec­tion at gar­den cen­tres, with its vi­brant red blooms, and more re­cently pur­ple and white. It's the ca­lyces that make the most im­pact rather than the short-lived petals. Sow seed in spring, up to early sum­mer, for a long dis­play from late sum­mer/au­tumn. Or for a head start, buy seedlings or plants and po­si­tion them in a warm spot.

PROUD & PRO­LIFIC

Salvia fari­nacea is also found in the pot­ted colour sec­tion at gar­den cen­tres. This bed­ding an­nual looks spec­tac­u­lar planted en masse, with its blue to vi­o­let, or white, flower spikes to 45cm high. Along with Salvia horminum and Salvia leu­can­tha, this an­nual salvia is a great plant for the vase, used ei­ther fresh or dried. While many salvias drop their petals soon af­ter pick­ing, the fuzzy ca­lyces of this species re­main on the stems long af­ter the flow­ers fall.

There are some 900 species of salvias com­pris­ing an­nu­als, bi­en­ni­als, herba­ceous peren­ni­als and soft–wooded shrubs.

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