Lazy Gardening: Plan for annual volunteer ressurections
Want to have a flower bed or container filled with annuals of various colors without doing any planting? Don't dig out the dead plants in the fall from this year's garden (left photo) until all the seeds have fallen.
Rain and snow will embed those seeds in the ground during the winter and early spring months. Flowers will begin sprouting on their own. The only work might be transplanting some of the sprouting plants so the container or flower bed does not get too crowded.
This technique works with marigolds, vincas, zinnias and most other annuals.
1) Patience is necessary. If you want blooming flowers right after the last threat of frost has passed, you need to either buy plants from a garden center (they are typically grown in greenhouses) or start the plants inside yourself. Volunteer flowers do not sprout and begin to grow until later. I live in Texas, where frost does typically does not become a threat until November. I'm content to wait until mid to late-June for the volunteers.
2) Cross-pollination brings color uncertainties. Pollen wafts through the air, pollen gets spread by bees, butterflies hummingbirds... That means the seeds that drop from an annual may have received pollen from a different-colored plant.
The flower bed containing zinnias (upper right photo) once contained only purple zinnias. There evidently were zinnias of other colors growing in the area whose pollen reached my zinnias. The result? I now have orange and red zinnias growing there, too. You can wait until the flowers sprout blooms and then move them, or you can embrace uncertainty and variety.
Should you rely upon volunteer flowers to fill all garden areas? That depends on your preferences. Volunteer flowers, though, enable you to enjoy more blooms without additional effort or expense.
Richard Buse is a Dallas-Fort Worth area freelance writer with more than 25 years’ professional experience. For more information regarding his background and services, contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.