Article: Flower Seeds for Christmas!
Flower Seeds for Christmas!
We've been getting a few questions about what seeds would make the best most fool proof gifts for christmas, so I thought I'd put together a round up of all my favourites!
Our Southern Hemisphere summer christmas means the main seeds we sow around christmas is our last planting of tender (heat loving) annuals. Though we usually wait to sow in early January so we don't have baby seedlings to hover & keep alive over the break.
Of those tender annuals, the easiest flowers to grow from seed would be anything with larger seeds that can be covered with soil (doesn't dry out so quickly as seeds that need light), and can also be direct sown. Sown directly in the garden these tender annuals germinate rather quickly at this time of the year, but both direct or in trays/blocks, they will need special attention to make sure they don't dry out. Hot summer days can zap the moisture out of soil very fast, but luckily once they germinate they waste no time getting growing and will quickly survive and actually thrive in drier conditions.
Sunflowers are the absolute easiest to grow flowers, and they flower very quickly (roughly in about 2–3 months).
At the moment we just have the ProCut Plum + White Nite varieties available (but are working on trialling and adding more in the coming year or so). The ProCut are fantastic cut-flowers in unique colours for sunflowers, albeit they are single stem non-branching (don't pinch!).
Zinnias are hands down my favourite summer flower! They can be direct sown in summer through to about January at the latest, they take about 3 months to flower (then peak flush for about 6 weeks, or longer if you keep harvesting them). They do not like cold temps at all so make sure there's time to enjoy them before autumn & winter come calling in your climate. Zinnias are branching so if pinched (cut out the first flower bud down to the next branching point), they will bush up and put on a real show from their very first flush. They will naturally branch if you miss pinching, they'll just put out one early flower before the rest slowly catch up.
We have four main series of zinnias to choose from:
Benary: These have the largest flowers, they can be a little slower to get going and a touch less productive (as the flowers are larger), but once they get going they're one of the very best zinnia series, with a high percentage of doubles.
Oklahoma: Coming in similar colour-ways to the Benary's Oklahoma's are smaller flowered, but insanely productive! Once they get going they're hard to keep up with harvesting! They are probably also the tallest zinnia we grow so make sure you have some sort of support (definitely if it's a windy spot).
Queeny: The Queeny (formally Queen) series has the most unique colourings of any zinnia (or any flower really) that we grow! Queeny Red Lime was the first introduction, and the breeders have been busy adding other new exciting variations, like Orange Lime + Lime Blush (also called Lime Blotch), and the latest Queeny Lemon Peach which I'm very much obsessed with!
Zinderella: This is one of my absolute favourite series (though they're all my favourite so is anything truly my favourite if they all are?). There is quite a variation on flower shapes however, but the singles are adorable and worth it to get the scabiosa fluffy centred gems amongst the mixes! If stressed these plants do have a tendency to revert to a higher percentage of singles, so if growing them later in summer make sure they get extra doting, and don't dry out. We have much higher double/fluffy rates in our earlier plantings.
Other zinnias we love are the Zinnia haageana species varieties, they're much shorter, and more disease resistant than their Zinnia elegans cousins, and their smaller flowers are just adorable. I'm particularly obsessed with any of the creams found in the Jazzy Mix!
Cosmos are another easy to grow, heat loving, drought tolerant summer annual! The more you cut these the more they flower. They are truly drought hardy, we had them in a row with broken irrigation all last summer than they were they best cosmos we'd ever grown, the celosia planted with them not so much at all!
Surprisingly last season was our first year grown marigolds, and we were totally blown away by them! They were super productive, and the Giant Orange did not lie at all about it's giant-ness!
If you're buying for a more adventurous gardener, seeds like amaranthus, celosia & gomphrena are also all heat loving tender annuals that can be sown around christmas. They however will need a little more care to get them germinated as they need light to germinate which makes them a little trickier to keep moist in the heat of summer, but a dusting of vermiculite & a dome of sorts to keep the humidity up will help a lot!