Annuals

Plants which, in cultivation, are prefer ably grown from seeds each year are commonly classed as Annuals. More strictly, Annuals are plants which normally live but a single season. Among Annuals are found a number of the most showy flowers. As a rule, they are easily grown, producing quick results and af fording a variety of brilliant colors. The class is, there fore, one of the greatest value. Some of the Annuals last only a few weeks in bloom, others continue throughout the summer. There are trailers and climbers, dwarfs and tall growers. By a judicious selection and arrangement of kinds, the handsomest eflects may be produced. Many of the showy kinds are adapted to mass eflects, while the dwarf-growing sorts make fine floweringedgings for beds or walks. With the latter, handsome ribbon-beds are pos sible, but this requires care in the selection of kinds, and as the use of the trimming shears is almost precluded it is best to limit oneself to simple designs. Annuals are well adapted to the covering of bare spots of ground in the border. Annuals, like other flowers, show ofl best when seen against a background of foliage. See Figs. 91, 92. The tall and leafy kinds make excellent covers for unsightly objects ; see Screens. For climbing and twining kinds, see Vines. See, also, Everlasting: and Grasses. In the case of others than the continuous bloomers, a succession of sowings or plantings is desirable to pro vide for a continuous display ; then as a kind begins to fail its place may be filled with young plants of the same or other species. The usual method of securing suc cession is to sow the seeds in iiats, or beds, and trans plant the seedlings iirst to pots. The potted plants may be set out at any time, with but little check to growth. Most Annuals prefer an open, sunny situation, but pansies, forget-me-nots, and some others, thrive where they get the full sunshine for only half the day. In all cases the best results are obtained only when the soil is well enriched and thoroughly prepared previous to sow ing or planting ; and it is far better to make this prepa ration a fortnight or more in advance. A considerable proportion of humus in the soil is desirable, rendering it less subject to baking and drying out. Cow-manure, stable-manure or leaf-mold, worked in liberally, will sup ply this. Beds should be spaded thoroughly and at least a foot deep. If the surface is then again worked over to half this depth, better results will be obtainable. The soil should not be disturbed, however, unless it pulver izes readily. For the reception of seeds, the surface should be mellow and smooth. The seeds are sown in drills or concentric circles, according to the method of planting decided upon. Taller growing kinds are sown toward the center or back of the bed. Only the best seeds should be purclmsed, and it is generally best to get the colors in separate packets. In the open ground, seeds may be covered to a depth of four or live times their own thickness, but when sown indoors in trays or pots, the rule is to cover them to about their own thick ness. The position of each row or kind should be marked, so that when weeds and flowers spring up there will be no trouble in separating the sheep from the goats. After covering, the soil should be pressed firmly over the seed. with a board or hoe, or the feet. In soils which are in clined to bake, a sprinkling of sand or fine litter over the surface after sowing will remedy this evil. Ever green boughs placed over the beds until the seedlings have appeared will afford useful shelter from beating rains. It is desirable to sow the seeds thickly. When up, the plants may be thinned to their proper distances. Particular care should be given to this matter, and to keeping down weeds, or the plants may become weak, spindling and valueless. No seed pods should be allowed to form, else the vitality of the plants will be exhausted. The flowers may be freely gathered with advantage to the flowering. It is customary to divide Annuals into three classes: (I) Hardy Annuals are those which are sown directly in the open ground where they are to grow. They are vitally strong, developing without artificial heat, and may be sown from February to May, according to the season and latitude. Some of them, as sweet peas, may be sown even in the fall. For this class, a well prepared border on the south side of a fence or wall, or other sheltered place, is usually preferred for early sowings. From here the seedlings are transplanted later where they are to grow. Some sorts, however, do not bear transplanting well, consequently must be sown in the places they are to occupy. Among such are poppies, eschscholtzia, barte nia, Venus’ looking-glass, lupine, malope, and the dwarf convolvulus. (2) Half-hardy Annuals are usually sown in February or March in the window or a warm frame. The season is usually not long enough to enable them to reach full development in the open. In the early stages of growth, they need protection and warmth. Such kinds are sometimes sown in the fall and wintered over in a coldframe. When once established, they are hardy with slight protection. Pansies and some other kinds are grown to their greatest perfection only in this way. (3) Tender Annuals require still more warmth, and are started from January to May in the greenhouse or other suitable place. They commonly need a temperature of from 60° to 70°. The danger with early grown seedlings, especially those started in the window, is crowding and want of light. As soon as crowding begins, the plants should be thinned out or transplanted to other trays, or into pots, and reset from time to time, as they need ; frequent transplanting is usually an advantage. The last transplanting is preferably into small pots, as then the seedlings may be readily set out in the open ground at the proper time, with little or no check to growth. Some of the staple or general-purpose types of Annuals in the North are the fol lowing : Petunias, phloxcs, pinks or dian thuses, larkspnrs or delphiniums, calliopsis or coreopsis, pot marigolds or calcndula, bachelor's buttons or Centaurea Cyanus, clarkias, zinnias, marigolds or tagetes, col linsias, gilias, California poppies or esch scholtzias, verbenas, poppies, China asters, sweet peas, nemophilas, portulacas, silenes, candytufts or iberis, alyssum, stocks or matthiolns, morning-glories, nasturtiums or tropaaolums. Other species are mostly of special or particular use, not general-use types. In the South, and occasionally at the North, some of the Annuals come up volun tarily year after year from self-sown seeds. Petunias, phloxes and morning-glories are examples. For further suggestions, see Seerlage. For an annotated list of Annuals suited for northern climates, see Bull. 161, Cornell E‘P- 39* Eamcsr WALKER.