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Our Top 5 Cold Hardy Flowering Annuals to sow in Autumn

It took us a couple of years of flower farming to learn that if we wanted lots of blooms in early Spring we needed to sow them in Autumn. As Flower Farmers we are always thinking ahead and planning flowers for the next season but this time of year needs extra consideration.

What flowering annuals will survive Winter and when is the best time to sow them?

I remember the first year we started growing flowers we waited until Spring to get all our cool flowers in the ground because we were worried they wouldn’t make it through Winter. Unfortunately It was a failure because in our climate it heats up too quickly and these Spring flowers didn’t have enough time to flower before it was too hot for them.

With a few years of trial and error I now know the secret to success is to sow them early and get them established before the first frosts hit. I’ve also established over the years which flowers will make it through our harsh Winters alive. We get down to -5 here in the Kanimbla Valley, NSW, with severe frosts.

My top 5 toughies that I’m going to share with you, soldier on through the freezing nights of Winter and flower profusely in Spring.

Yes, they can look a bit tired as they take on all that Winter can throw at them but underground they are establishing a strong root system and when Spring arrives they burst back into life and become lush looking plants that have a great head start. I can't tell you how many times I thought I lost entire crops over Winter and come Spring they are off and racing!


My Top 5 Cold Hardy Flowering Annuals

We grow all 5 varieties from seed. We direct sow into prepared beds anytime in the first half of Autumn. Ideally I like to wait until a rainy day to plant seeds but if not we water in well and keep moist. These are cool flowers, meaning they love the cooler weather and may not germinate well until the temperature has dropped a little. Don't give up they will pop up when they are ready and when the conditions are just right.

1. Larkspur

One of my absolute favourites. Each year I plant more and more Larkspur and its never enough. I have grown from seedlings before but have found they are much stronger and healthier if grown from seed in situ.


2. Feverfew

Feverfew is very cold hardy, it thrives in our frosty conditions. The photo below was taken in the middle of Winter. So lush!


3. Corncockle

Corncockle is one of our first flowers to bloom in Spring. We grow this white variety (Ocean Pearl) and the purple (Purple Queen).


4. Calendula

We primarily grow Calendula to use in our soaps. It is very hardy, easy to grow and thrives in the cooler months. It will flower in Winter but the flowers will be smaller in size.


5. Cornflowers

Another one we grow mainly for our soap production. It self seeds freely. Which saves us time! We never have to go to the trouble of sowing the seed. It will do its own thing and pop up in last seasons bed. If you're busy but love having flowers in the garden sow some Cornflowers and they will continue to pop up year after year.


Other Cold Hardy Flowering Annuals that survive our Winters

  • Snapdragons

  • Canterbury Bells

  • Ammi

  • Sweet Peas

  • Forget me not

  • Orlaya

  • Violas and Pansies

  • Bells of Ireland

  • Poppies

I hope you've found this helpful and have lots of blooms come Spring. There truly is nothing better after a long, cold Winter.

Do you know any other cold hardy flowering annuals that we can add to the list? Leave a comment below!

Autumn is such a pleasant time to get in the garden. I hope this will inspire you to get out there.

If you have any questions for me please don't hesitate to ask.

Happy gardening!


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