Once the soil has lost its chill many flower seeds can be sown straight into a pre-prepared garden bed. In colder areas, though, you’ll either have to wait till it’s warmer, or start seedlings in pots that can be kept in a warm spot.
Sunflowers are the blooms that we most associate with summer. And they’re so easy to grow from seed they’ll make a great school holiday seed-sowing project for kids. My favourite is the Yates mix called Bronze Shades, but most kids will be sure to vote for the extra tall Yellow Empress sunflower with its classic, sun-facing, large yellow heads.
Nasturtiums, like sunflowers, have seeds that are a satisfying size to handle. Get onto nasturtium sowing quickly, though, because they don’t like germinating when soil conditions become too hot. Not only do nasturtiums have bright and colourful summer flowers, every part of the plant is edible. And, if you want to set kids a dexterity challenge, get them to roll beads of water around on the nasturtium leaf without allowing the drops fall over the edge.
Everlasting daisies are another group of summer flowers that children will enjoy growing. They love the feel of the papery petals and appreciate their long-lasting qualities. Did you know that the French call them immortelles because of their long life?
Petunias are probably the most widely grown summer flowers. Although they can be started from seed, petunia germination can be a little challenging. The seeds must be exposed to some light but this, of course, makes them vulnerable to drying out. Lightly press the tiny seeds into the surface of some Yates Seed Raising Mix. Keep the pot in a shaded spot and cover with plastic wrap or a sheet of glass. Avoid dislodging the tiny seeds by watering with a mister or by wetting from the base. After germination, transplant to larger pots and then into a sunny spot in the garden.
Zinnias are cheery summer flowers that have made a fashion comeback in recent years. Yates Gold Medal is a big grower that can reach up to 1.2 metres in height. Lilliput is smaller – to 5ocm – with fully double, dome-shaped blooms. Pinch out the first buds to encourage sideways branching. Both varieties are ideal for picking, too.
Celosias produce bright tufts of feathery blooms in tropical colours of red, yellow, orange and pink. 'Kewpie Mix' celosia grows from Yates seeds and just loves the warmer months. This variety only reaches a compact 20cm so looks fantastic crowded together in a pot.
Keep flowering plants looking good by removing dead blooms, cutting back leggy plants and continually feeding with Yates Thrive Liquid for Roses & Flowers or the soluble Thrive Flower & Fruit. Use a Yates Rose Gun Advanced to treat most of the common pests and diseases.