Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Middle South
September, 2000
Regional Report

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Reseeded volunteer seedlings of sulphur cosmos with young nicotiana plants coming up inbetween.

Reseeding Annuals

What could be better than annual flowers that plant themselves? Annual flowers usually die in fall, but if they are allowed to go to seed, the seed often survives the winter to sprout and produce a new plant come spring. Our region hosts a number of annuals that return year after year like beloved old friends. Each has its season, and there seems to be no time when self-sown seedlings aren't popping up to say hello. Right now I'm finding nicotiana, sulphur cosmos, and a few zinnias awakened by late summer rains. In the coming weeks, the collection will get much larger.

Finding Your Seedlings

To use reseeded annuals, first get to know what they look like and when and where they could appear. Cypressvine morning glory, for example, sprout within a few yards of where the parent plants grew the seeds the year before, but seeds that are eaten by birds, such as bachelor buttons, sunflowers, and zinnias, often get scattered all over the yard. Bachelor buttons always survive winter and are easy to dig and move. Look for legions of violas (also known as mini-pansies or Johnny- jump-ups) if you grew them last winter. The seedlings look like shrunk-down pansies.

Make notes of where prolific summer reseeders grew this year so you'll know where to look for the babies in late spring. Melampodium reseeds with astounding success, as does portulaca (moss rose) if you give it a chance, and both stay close to home. In shade, touch-me-nots are dependable volunteers any place that is not heavily mulched. I often find impatiens hiding away in crevices between the stones around my water garden.

Tempermental Seedlings

Several other winter-hardy reseeders such as corn poppies and larkspur whine or simply die if you try to transplant them. To make sure these flowers grow where you want them, and to fill out the bed, sow a few packets of seed in the next few weeks.

With a little planning and supplemental seeding, you can have an even bigger show of annuals, for free, next year.

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