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Annual Flowers

Succession Planning for a successful cutting patch

What can be grown is dependant on where you are located and the equipment and resources you have available to you, Some of these factors may be too difficult or impossible to change, such as the weather and where you live. However by planning your succession of seed sowing and planting you can make the most of each available time period v's your space. 

 

There is a delicate dance between nurturing the present beauty and preparing for future blooms and ensuring that you dedicate the right amount of space to each takes careful consideration and planning. Succession planning in gardening is akin to composing a symphony of colours and scents, ensuring a seamless transition from one season's blossoms to the next.

 

Succession planning isn't just about replacing spent blooms, it's about maintaining a continuous flow of flowers throughout the growing season and there are many factors to consider.  

Mother Nature 

Understanding when your natural growing season starts and ends in your area is important so that you can begin to plan harvests. Where I am based in Hampshire near the South Coast of England my natural growing season starts in February with the camellias and snowdrops opening up then soon after the Hyacinths and Anemones will start. We still have lots of frosty days and nights throughout March but if I grow the Hyacinths and Anemones under cover I will get a good crop by Mid  March, Without this its more likely to be the end of March. April will be the month of Tulips and a few filler flowers such as Cerinthe, Centaurea Montana and Wallflowers. In the greenhouse I can also expect a good crop of Icelandic poppies in April. Looking to the other end of the season this usually finishes with Dahlias anytime from Sep through to Nov, depending on the last frost. I don't grow my Dahlias in  the greenhouse as I simply do not have the space. If we have an early Sep frost I will usually have some China Asters to save the day and the heirloom Chrysanthemums will have also started and will take me through to December.  So armed with this information I know I can plan flowers from February through to  End of Nov and all it takes is to fill in the gaps. 

Choosing the Right Plants

Selecting a variety of flowers/varieties with different bloom times can also ensure a continuous succession. Consider bulbs, corms, annuals, biennials and perennials to create a balanced and diverse offer. These will all need to be sowed and planted at different times and planning this ahead is key. Many people think that the gardening calendar starts in March when they sow most of their annual seeds, however I think to think ahead a lot more than this. For me my gardening year starts in mid summer. Around June time when most of the annuals are in the ground for the year and the potting bench is freed up this is when I start to sow my biennials for the following year and a few extra Perennials. In late summer and autumn come the hardy annuals, spring corms and bulbs and then annuals are started in the new year. So my sowing/ Planting year looks something like below  

 

Annual Seed Sowing & Propagation Calendar 

The Hampshire Seed  Company Logo

June

July

August

September

October

November

Digitalis (Foxglove)

Clary Sage (Herb)

Lunaria (Honesty)

Angelica

Hesperis (Sweet Rocket)

Sweet Williams

Pansy 

Viola

Larkspur

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Scabious

Cornflower

Papaver Nudicale (Icelandic Poppy)

Daucus Carota

Orlaya Grandiflora

Matthiola (Stocks)

Papaver(Poppy) Sow Direct 

Ammi Majus

Calendula

Anemone

Ranunculus

Lathyrus Odoratus

(Sweetpea)

Nigella (Sow Direct)

Eucalyptus

Astrantia

Hellebore 

Snakeshead Fritilary

Bluebells

Muscari

Daffodils

Hyacinth

Tulips

December

January

February

March

April

May

Scabious 

Cornflower 

Larkspur

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Orlaya Grandiflora

Matthiola(Stocks)

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Ammi Majus 

Calendula 

Nigella (Sow Direct) 

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Borage 

Cerinthe

Scabious 

Cornflower 

Larkspur

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Matthiola Incana(Stocks)

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Ammi Majus 

Calendula 

Nigella (Sow Direct) 

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Cosmos 

Nasturtium

Celosia 

Salvia 

Borage

Cerinthe

Dahlias (Cuttings & Tubers)

Crysanthemums(Cuttings)

Scabious 

Cornflower 

Larkspur

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Matthiola Incana(Stocks)

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Ammi Majus 

Calendula 

Nigella (Sow Direct) 

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Zinnia 

Amaranth 

Crysanthemums(Cuttings)

Dahlias (Cuttings)

Scabious 

Cornflower 

Larkspur

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Matthiola Incana(Stocks)

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Ammi Majus 

Calendula 

Nigella (Sow Direct) 

Papaver ( Sow Direct) 

Crysanthemums(Cuttings)

Integrating  Succession into your layout 

Another key to continuous blooms is to plan a garden or cut flower patch with succession and seasonality in mind. You can also group plants with similar bloom times together, making it easier to manage cut and maintain the succession cycle.

I like to split my plot into sections and think about the return on each one and how many crops I will be able to get from each section . On some beds it may only be 1 crop such as Peonies, or for my perennial bed I know they will be in the ground all year so I| can not get anything else into that ground, however I do choose lots of crops which are cut & come gain so will repeat flower for a few months. 

 

.I also like to think about Early, Mid & Late season crops which will help maximise space. In some beds I will only be able to get 2 crops per year and in others 3  per year  - IF I time everything right and choose flowers which have a short maturity and also flowers which can be successfully grown in pots until the bed is freed up. 

Some of my succession planting plans are as below:

Perennial Beds 

Early Season ( Mar - May ) 

Feverfew

Hesperis

Lupin

Achillea

Astrantia

Sweet William

Clary Sage

Alchemilla Mollis

Mid Season ( Jun - Aug ) 

Feverfew

Lupin

Astrantia

Clary Sage

Hesperis

Achillea

Sweet William

Alchemilla Mollis

Late Season ( Sep - Nov ) 

Feverfew

Lupin

Astrantia

Clary Sage

Hesperis

Achillea

Sweet William

Alchemilla Mollis

Bulbs/ Corms & Hardy/Annuals - 2 crops  

Early Season ( Mar - May ) 

Foxglove

Sweetpea

Daucus Carota

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Mid Season ( Jun - Aug ) 

Foxglove

Daucus Carota

Sweetpea

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Late Season ( Sep - Nov ) 

Phacelia

Early Season ( Mar - May ) 

Tul

Matthiola ( Stocks) 

Ranunculus

Anemone

Papaver Nudicale

(Icelandic Poppy) 

Orlaya Grandiflora 

Larkspur

Cerinthe

Poppy 

Phacelia

Cornflower

Nigella

Mid Season ( Jun - Aug ) 

Crysanthemum

Callistephus(China Aster)

Dahlia

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Cosmos

Salvia 

Ammi 

Sweetpeas

Zinnia

Didiscus Lace

Celosia

Cornflower

Late Season ( Sep - Nov ) 

Crysanthemum

Callistephus(China Aster)

Dahlia

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Cosmos

Salvia 

Ammi 

Sweetpeas

Zinnia

Didiscus Lace

Celosia

Cornflower

Hardy Annual/ Biennial beds 

By sowing Hardy annuals and protecting over winter with some form of low tunnels it is possible to get an early crop blooms and cut by the end of May. You can then start some seeds in pots ready to go out beg June, If the weather is favourable then these can be cut in time to get a third succession in the ground. This is not easy to achieve and takes a lot of planning but is possible as below.

Early Season ( Apr- May ) 

Poppies(Direct Sow) 

Cornflower (Direct Sow) 

Phacelia ( Direct Sow) 

Nigella ( Direct Sow)

Cerinthe ( Direct Sow)

Orlaya Grandiflora

Larkspur

Borage

Mid Season ( Jun - Jul ) 

Phacelia

Nigella

Larkspur

Calendula

Cerinthe

Borage

Cornflower

Poppies

Late Season ( Aug - Sep ) 

Calendula

Larkspur

Phacelia ( Direct Sow) 

Cornflower

Matthiola Incana

Achillea

Poppies

Nigella

Practical Tips for Success

Practical Tips for Success

  1. Keep a Garden Journal -  Record planting dates, bloom times, and any observations throughout the growing season. This information will be invaluable for future planning and adjustments.

  2. Regular Maintenance - Stay on top of deadheading spent blooms and fertilizing to encourage continuous growth and prolonged flowering periods.

  3. Experiment and Adapt -  Don't be afraid to experiment with different plant combinations and succession schedules. Gardening is a continuous learning process, and flexibility is key to success.

  4. Extend the Season -  Consider techniques such as using row covers or cold frames to protect tender plants and extend the growing season into late fall or even winter in milder climates.

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