Summer is just around the corner, but there is still time to sow flowers for your cutting patch. Here are some of the “easy-to-grow from seed” annuals that we sow in May which might find their way into your gardens or allotments.
We use the Latin names for all the plants we grow at Electric Daisy Flower Farm, because this is the universal language that horticulturalists all around the world understand. Common names for flowers vary sometimes, depending on what country - or even what county - they are grown in, so we need to be very clear about what we are growing.
Ammi majus – belongs to the Apiaceae, or celery family. Its flowers are described as umbelliferours (like an umbrella). A close cousin of our hedgerow favourite cow parsley, we love it for its delicate white flowers: more like lace parasols than umbrellas.
Calendula – beautiful bright orange flowers with multiple applications. We use it in our floristry, in our herbal teas and tinctures, and eat its petals in our salads. You might recognise its common name, Marigold.
Cosmos – a versatile daisy-like flower, this beauty comes in so many varieties and will fill your patch with joy from midsummer to the first frost.
Helianthus – the wonderful sunflower. With over 70 varieties, there are bound to be a few you will love. We choose the “cut-and-come-again” varieties which allow us to harvest multiple stems for the longest season.
Helichrysum – A personal favourite, commonly known as Strawflower. Easy to grow and great to harvest, this flower can be used as a fresh cut, or it can be hung and dried and used in the lean times when we have no flowers in the field.
Nasturtium – Love, love, love these cheerful orange, red and yellow flowers. Every part of the plant is edible. You get a strong peppery goodness from the leaves, the flowers and even the seeds. We use it in our floristry because it has an amazing fluidity and brilliant vase life. You won’t find this orange beauty in most high-street florists, because it doesn’t travel well.
Nigella – Really easy to grow, this delicate blue flower peeps through showy little leaves and is commonly referred to as Love-in-the Mist.
On the farm we avoid single-use plastic. We’ve have been using our seeds trays for six years now and hopefully they have many more years of service ahead of them. If you are growing annual flowers at home, I recommend you start them off in good quality seed trays, wooden boxes, egg boxes, whatever you can lay your hands on. Use good, organic peat-free compost varieties recommended for seedlings - the “grown-up” compost for potting on has large bits and pieces in it that little seedlings can’t work with. Keep your compost moist but not soaked. When your seedlings appear . . . cheer, because you’ve made a good thing happen.
Prick the seedlings out when their second set of leaves appear. Treat them very gently, picking them up by the leaves, not the stem. Separate them from their brothers and sisters and - using the same seedling compost - pot them up into slightly bigger containers. We sell biodegradable coir pots that you can plant out straight into your flowers beds. For your most precious displays we also have beautiful terracotta pots custom-made for us by Mathew Pasmore at Willow Pottery in Bath. We chose a traditional Victorian Long Tom design decorated with our logo. Plants just look wonderful in these surprisingly contemporary looking pots.