Late spring is the perfect time to plant seeds for easy to grow summer flowers. The soil needs to be warm enough for germination and the spring rains will help the seedlings get going.
Summer annual flowers include zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, petunias, bachelor buttons, balsam, alyssum, marigolds, vinca, poertuluca, lobelia to name just a few.
Flowers need at least six hours of full sun to bloom profusely. In very hot areas such as the Southwest and desert areas, afternoon shade is appreciated.
Prepare the soil by digging down at least six inches. Turn the soil over with a shovel. Add compost or well rotten manure and a time release fertilizer per the package directions. Turn the soil over again to mix in your ingredients.
If your flower bed is up against a wall or fence, plant the tallest flowers in the back, medium tall in the middle and short or spreading flowers in the front. The tall flowers can use the wall to lean on and won’t shade the shorter flowers.
If your flower bed is in the middle of the yard, plant the tall flowers in the center, surrounded by medium tall flowers and then ringed by the shorter and spreading flowers.
Throw caution to the wind and plant a splashy mix of all different colors, much like you’d find in a meadow. Or plant in coordinated colors. All pastels are very pretty. Pick a two bright opposing colors like red and blue and fill in with plenty of white. Orange and purple work well too with lots of white or cream. Or pick all shades of the same color like blue and then use a pop of yellow every once in awhile.
Plant seeds three times as closely as the seed package says. That gives you extra seedlings because you’ll lose some to the birds and bugs. Cover the seeds as directed and then add a layer of mulch on top. Water thoroughly. Only water when the soil looks dry not on a schedule. Too much water can be as bad for baby plants as not enough water.
After the seeds have sprouted wait until they have at least four true leaves then thin to the desired spacing. Shorter flowers can be spaced to six inches apart. Medium flowers can be 12 inches apart and space tall flowers about 18 inches apart.
One of the nicest things about summer flowers is that the more you pick them for bouquets the longer they’ll stay in bloom. The purpose of a flower, from the plant’s point of view, is to set seeds. Once that’s done the plant will stop blooming. If you remove the flowers the plant will keep on blooming.
After the first rush of blooms cut the flowers back by about half and you should be able to force a second bloom. It won’t be quite as extravagant as the first bloom but will still be lovely.
Late spring is the time to plant your summer flower seeds for an extravagant display all summer.