New Year’s Resolution: Start Annuals Indoors!
In recent years I’ve come to appreciate the value of mixing annuals in with the perennials in flower borders. Not just for maximizing color, but also for achieving that sense of fullness earlier and more consistently through the season.
I’m slightly ashamed to say that I have not started any of my own annuals from seed since I grew ‘Italian White’ sunflowers in my garden about ten years ago. I feel that this undermines my bona fides as a real gardener. Buying my annuals at the garden center (and occasionally at the Home Depot) also makes me feel like something of a spendthrift, squandering my children’s milk money on flats of pansies and sweet alyssum. Admittedly, they drink more beer than milk now, but you get the idea.
The price of annuals frequently does seem unreasonable, especially the one you can’t buy in flats. What’s more, I’ve often found the selection and quality to be lacking. This is especially true when it comes to zinnias, cosmos, and cleome – three of my favorites.
So I have resolved to get myself a grow light or two and start my own annuals indoors. Without a greenhouse, I’ll have to make do with the basement and our enclosed back porch. Here’s my preliminary list:
Zinnias: ‘Orange Profusion’ and ‘Cut and Come Again’ (or maybe ‘Park’s Picks Deep Red’?).
Cleome: ‘Sparkler White’.
Pansies: varieties to be determined.
Sunflowers: ‘Italian White’.
Wallflowers: ‘Scented Gold’. Saw these at Giverney last April and have been determined to grow them ever since.
This may be a bit too ambitious, depending on the amount of capacity I get set up. But I can grow the pansies and wallflowers for April planting, followed by the others. It also seems that seed is not available for some annuals I must have, like Pentas, which I grow in containers.
So I’m soliciting advice here. What have been your best and worst annuals for starting indoors? And what about favorite seed sources? So far the on-line retailers I like best are Renee’s Garden and Park Seed. Finally, is there anybody out there who considers himself a serious gardener who doesn’t grow their own annuals from seed?