There’s nothing quite like a vase of fresh flowers to brighten a room and even the smallest garden can have a cutting patch of easy annuals.
Plants that flower and set seed in one season are perfect for the cutting garden as they flower freely for weeks, while regular picking will just make them produce more blooms.
They can be tucked into borders, grown in their own dedicated space or raised in containers where room is short.
Annuals are easy to raise from seed and now’s the time to get started. Many can be sown directly where you want them to flower, providing the soil has warmed enough after winter – if the weeds are growing, it’s warm!
Alternatively, you can start plants off in containers. Use a peat-free compost and a seed tray, or small container. The plastic pots that fruit and veg come in are ideal, just remember to add some drainage holes.
Fill your container, or mark out a drill in the ground, and water before sowing so there’s no risk of washing the seeds away. Sow thinly according to instructions on the packet and cover lightly.
Container-sown seed can be put in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill. When seedlings have their first set of true leaves (usually the second pair), they can be gradually hardened off by putting them outside during the day and bringing under cover at night. After a couple of weeks, they will be tough enough to go outside permanently.
Plant them out, leaving space between each plant. Direct sown plants may need thinning to give each plant the room to develop properly.
The most important thing about growing flowers for cutting is to keep picking! The more you deadhead and cut flowers for the house, the more they will produce.
Here are five suggestions of annuals you could grow.
The range of cosmos means there’s something to appeal to all tastes. Flowers can be single or double, while colours run from pure white to dusky pinks. There are also varieties with orange and yellow blooms.
While we may all think of cornflower blue, these easy annuals can also be found in pink, white and dark purple. They look perfect in a cottage garden style border and their long stems make them ideal for cutting.
The humble snapdragon has come a long way in recent years and is now back in fashion with new varieties sporting beautiful pale pastel blooms and others with jewel-like tones of claret, cerise and orange.
This pretty umbel is the perfect foil to set off other more flamboyant flowers but also looks elegant in a vase on its own. It dislikes being transplanted so either sow direct or into a pot, taking care when planting it out not to disturb the roots.
For something a little different, why not try the Mexican sunflower, tithonia. Bright orange or yellow flowers will add a zing to any vase and they are also loved by bees.
And if you don't fancy growing your own, search out one of the many British cut flower growers. Everyone should have fresh flowers in their home.