Reseeding Annuals For Cool Season Planting
One of the joys of gardening in a climate having moderate winters is fall seeded annuals. Few plants can give the profusion of spring color for such little effort. I'll mention a few to try. Larkspur are an old favorite. Seed is readily available and will germinate within a couple of weeks. The spiky flowers come in purple, pink, white and occasionally striped. Select a sunny well-drained site and spade in some compost and 3-5 pounds of slow release fertilizer like cotton seed meal. Scatter and rake in the seeds. Water if needed and allow the seedlings to begin forming true leaves for a couple of weeks before thinning and/or transplanting. A key to success is to thin the plants to 4-6" apart.
Oriental poppies and cornflowers (centaurea) may be planted in the same manner. Old fashion, single petunias are another great addition. Select any single flowering petunia from the seed rack or bedding plant section and they should revert to the multi-colored types the first year. Mine reseed plentifully and once planted there are plenty of seedlings to spread around. I even allow some to grow in the expansion joints of the driveway and terrace paving. The fragrance varies among my seedling petunias but all are nice and some spectacular.
If you live in Zone 8 or South it's not too late to fall plant sweet peas. Select a location with some protection from north wind, plenty of sun and a fence or trellis for support. The seeds are large and come up quickly. My favorites are 'Painted Lady' and 'Cuponi'. The first is pink and the second a beautiful combination of blue and purplish brown. Both have outstanding fragrance. Mine usually reseed in the garden but you can save seed to make sure you have some for next year. Sweet peas like a rich, organic soil.
Sweet alyssum and violas also reseed to some extent in my garden but not as prolifically as I would like. Stock and snapdragons are also great to plant now but rarely reseed for me. One of the joys of gardening is to discover which plants will reseed and where they choose to do so. As gardeners we often like to decide exactly where we want plants to be. Among the most delightful and humbling gardening experiences is to have plants reseed themselves in places that surprise us letting us know that nature can have some surprising and wonderful experiences in store for us!