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I’ve been sowing hardy annuals this week to over winter in the polytunnel and get (hopefully?) earlier flowers in late Spring. So far I’ve sown Ammi, Larkspur, cornflower, daucus, nigella, helichrysum, orlaya, snaps and sweet peas.
Hardy annuals are fast-growing plants that flower in their first summer, produce seeds, then die at the end of the season. They’re easy to grow, the seeds are inexpensive and its a great way to add colour to your cutting garden. Seeds sown in the Autumn produce big, healthy plants and flower earlier than their Spring sown cousins.
I don’t transplant hardy annuals into the ground as it gets too wet and cold here in the South East of the UK – they will stay in modules in the polytunnel until the early spring. Our soil gets very cold and wet in the winter but if you have light, sandy soil then you can plant them outside. If you are going to plant them out they need about 8 weeks in the ground before the first frosts. So if your first frost is at beginning of November then they should be planted out by the beginning of September – you could therefore direct sow them in the middle of August or sow them in modules at the beginning of August.
You can sow later if you’re keeping them in a cold frame or cold greenhouse over the winter – up to the end of October for most seeds and well into December/January for sweet peas.