i am so excited to have my husband, luke, in this space sharing his tips for planting annual flowers! if you have a garden-related topic that you'd like us to blog about, please comment below! thanks!
When we first moved to our farm and were planning out the garden Natalie had to convince me to devote space to flowers instead of planting it all to vegetables. I was reluctant, but conceded to her request. By the time the zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers were in bloom I was so glad I let Natalie persuade me. Seeing our summer garden with flowers in full bloom always brings a smile to my face.
Here I’m going to discuss seeding summer flowers like zinnias and sunflowers, which we just planted in our own garden this week. For those of you in our region (Zone 6) it is time to plant summer flowers! For those of you North of us, wait to seed until soils have warmed or transplant after you’ve passed your last spring frost date.
I usually start zinnias from seed in the greenhouse, but this year I wasn’t able to so I’m just going to be talking about directly seeding in this post. Like with our directly-sown vegetable crops I start by digging a shallow furrow with a triangle hoe to plant into. I like having my drip tape laid out first so that I can use it as a guide to keep my rows straight.
Zinnias might just be our favorite garden flower. They are so vibrant and colorful and make beautiful summer bouquets. Especially since we can’t buy zinnias at the store, they are such a special treat to grow in the garden and have in our home.
Because zinnia seed is light and non-uniform I find it easiest to sprinkle by hand. Zinnias should be sown 2 inches apart and then thinned to 9-12 inches between plants once they are starting to crowd. I recommend using a ruler at first to get a good handle on the correct spacing. They only need to be buried a 1/4 inch deep, so be sure your furrow isn’t too deep.
Sunflowers are a must for our garden as well. Not only are sunflowers a gorgeous accent in the garden, they are great for attracting and feeding pollinators which are vital for your flowering summer vegetable crops.
Because sunflower seed is large and fairly uniform I find it easiest to use the seed packet as a little seeder. I fold the lip of the packet so that the seed comes out one at a time and I tap the side of the packet to control how fast the seed slips out. Sunflowers can also be sown at 2 inches between seeds, 1/2 inch deep. Thin to 4-6 inches between single-stem varieties and 18-24 inches between branching varieties once the seedlings have started to grow.
Once the seeds have been dropped in the furrow I will use a trowel to scrape the soil back into the trench and cover the seed. Be careful not to bury the seed too deep. And make sure there is good seed-soil contact when you cover the seed, even taking the flat end of the trowel to pat down the soil to make sure it is firm.
Lastly, be sure to water in the seed thoroughly giving the beds a good soak with a water hose. I use drip tape for irrigation, but I will still water in my seeds with a hose-end sprayer to make sure they have plenty of soil moisture for germination. And be sure to keep the beds from drying out until the seedlings emerge. At this point it is critical that your seeds have plenty of moisture.
Stay tuned to see how our zinnias and sunflowers do this year. I can’t wait for those summer blooms!