How to - Seeds

Easy annuals to grow from seed

Scatter seeds over blank spots in the garden for summer flowers.

Ideas for trellises
Looking for fast-growing climbing plants to cover a trellis or fence before slower-paced perennials reach the heights? Runner beans are tall, twining counterparts to bush beans. Best known (and widely available) is ‘Scarlet Runner', a heat-loving annual with dark green leaves, brilliant red flowers and tasty flat pods. The vines—you may only need four or five—will wrap around anything smaller than a tree trunk. ‘Sunset' displays salmon pink flowers; ‘Sun Bright' contrasts red blooms against gold-tinged leaves.

‘Heavenly Blue' morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue') coil their stems around any support within reach and hoist themselves to a height of four metres before unfurling ethereal, white-centred, blue flowers from July until frost—‘Scarlet O'Hara' (I. nil ‘Scarlet O'Hara') is a dark red counterpart, ‘Pearly Gates' (I. tricolor ‘Pearly Gates'), is pure white. All enjoy at least six hours of sun and may be planted in large containers (30 cm or more across) set at the base of a trellis or against patio railings. For best results with runner beans and morning glories, start the big seeds in the sunniest window you have two weeks before spring's last frost date; then set the plants outdoors, a hand-span apart in the sun, a week after that date. To start, push two or three seeds down to the first joint of your index finger in 10-centimetre pots of light soil and thin eventually to one plant.

Everyone likes the delicate shades and fresh scent of sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus). The hard, round seeds may be sown directly into rich soil two weeks before the frost-free date, but we always start them earlier indoors, around May 1 for a May 20 transplanting. Although soaking seeds overnight is often suggested, we find it unnecessary; soaked seeds sometimes rot. Again, place three seeds per 10-centimetre pot, but don't thin: sweet peas don't mind a bit of crowding. Prepare the planting place with compost or composted manure, and erect a support of netting, wire or strings. Transplant 10 centimetres apart. As the season turns hot, mulch with more compost or grass clippings and water deeply once a week. With luck, by midsummer you'll have bunches of fragrant sweet peas at eye and nose level.

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