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