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Top 10 fast flowers

Half-hardy annuals are the perfect choice for gardeners in a hurry. Fast growing and colourful, many half-hardy annual species have the stature to perform centre stage in summer planting schemes.

Despite their exotic looks, half-hardy annuals are surprisingly easy to grow, though you do need to raise them from seed, indoors. Growing half-hardy annuals from seed will give you a much wider choice of varieties than you’ll have if you buy ready-grown plants, and some species will flower in as little as 12 weeks.

Prick out seedlings into pots or multi-cell trays and grow them on into sturdy plants, ready to drop into border gaps. Dot single plants as accents through your borders, or plant generous drifts between perennials, providing a contrast of foliage and colour.

Discover 10 of the best hardy annuals to grow for summer borders, below.


10 half-hardy annuals to grow from seed

The following half-hardy annuals will establish quickly and produce a beautiful early summer display:

Nicotiana

Nicotiana

There are many colours to choose from, including white, lime green and purple. Wonderful scented foliage and flowers. Height: 90-150cm. Flowers in 16 weeks.

Tagetes

Tagetes

Often relegated to greenhouses or border edges, large-flowered african varieties also make a striking centre piece. Height: 60-90cm. Flowers in 16 weeks.

Ricinus

Ricinus

With deep-red maple-like leaves and spiky fruits, the exotic castor oil plant earns top spot at the heart of any border. Height: 1-2.5m Flowers in 16 weeks.

Cleome

Cleome

Spider flowers have impossibly intricate blooms in white or pink. Combine with large dahlias in pastel shades. Height: 90-120cm. Flowers in 14 weeks.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Available in many vibrant colours, so there’s one of these zingy daisies to suit every colour scheme. Also good as cut flowers. Height: 30-90cm. Flowers in 16 weeks.

Cobaea

Cobaea

Annual climbers, like this cup-and-saucer vine, quickly cover unsightly walls. They can also be trained to make a feature up an obelisk. Height: 6m. Flowers in 16 weeks.

Amaranthus

Amaranthus

Fuzzy flowers in bold spikes or weeping tails. Choose from plants with red or green flowers and foliage. Height: 45-120cm. Flowers in 12 weeks.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

Very quick and easy to grow, producing long, trailing stems covered in neat, round leaves and bright flowers. Spread: 35-100cm. Flowers in 10-12 weeks.

Cosmos

Cosmos

Soft, ferny foliage and delicate blooms ensure that cosmos mingle well in any border. Regular cutting keeps blooms coming. Height 40-90cm. Flowers in 14 weeks.

Verbena

Verbena

Slender, swaying stems with clusters of tiny violet flowers at the top. These are great planted in groups or dotted among other border plants. Height 90-160cm. Flowers in 14 weeks.




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