In most of North America right now, it’s really too late to get your tender and half-hardy annuals started indoors, but it’s the perfect time to sow some seed “in place”. Cosmos, marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias, and more can be planted outside now, in the ground where you want your plants to grow. I got most of mine sown about a week ago, but I plan to sow some sunflowers and maybe some more zinnias today.
Sowing indoors weeks before your frost-free date gets things off to a quick start, of course, but some annuals actually do better when planted outdoors where they’re to grow. For example, double-flowered zinnias will be set back in their growth if transplanted and may revert back to being single-flowered. And nasturtiums also resent transplanting. Although cleome can supposedly be started either indoors or out, I’ve had luck with them only when sown in place. Ditto for portulacas.
Here’s a list of a few annuals that do well when sown straight in the garden:
- Calendula (pot marigold) – likes cool weather
- Centaurea (bachelor’s buttons, cornflower) – very easy from seed sown outside
- Cleome (spider flower) – give them lots of room
- Cosmos – one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed
- Gomphrena (globe amaranth) – very easy
- Helianthus (sunflower) – from the small showy types to the 12′ giants
- Portulaca (moss rose) – grows well in dry soil in a sunny spot
- Tagetes (marigold) – the small French varieties are my favorites
- Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) – tall and bushy, and a favorite of butterflies
- Tropaeleolum majus (nasturtium) – requires darkness to germinate, so don’t surface-sow
- Xeranthemum (immortelle) – easily grown in any sunny spot
- Zinnia – susceptible to mildew, so sow resistant varieties if mildew is a problem in your area