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Some flowers do all the work for you.

Some flowers do all the work for you If no-fuss gardening tickles your fancy, make way for some charming invaders--desirable annuals and perennials that self-sow readily. Once established, these tend to reappear year after year with little or no help from the gardener.

The chart on page 138 lists 25 plants, ranked by water need, that are consistent self-sowers if given the proper growing conditions. You might have some blooming in your garden now. Rather than pulling out plants as flowers die, wait until seeds ripen and plants reseed themselves. (Any that become invasive--noted on the chart--can easily be pulled out.)

For late-summer color and fall self-seeding, you can still plant some summer-flowering choices like coreopsis, cosmos, gloriosa daisy, and nicotiana. Order seeds now for fall-planted self-sowers like clarkia, Jupiter's beard, and poppies.

Expect surprises. Not only is it difficult to determine when and where new plants will sprout, but their flower form, color, or size may differ from the parents'.

Before you let them go to seed, encourage a second bloom on plants like calendula, coreopsis, and gloriosa daisy by dead-heading. For plants such as Santa Barbara daisy that have smaller heads, shear to prolong bloom.

Many plants die back as their seed ripens. But other (among them coreopsis and cranesbill) are evergreen. Consider placing evergreen plants in close-in areas and using plants that die back either in garden beds mixed with evergreen plants or in outlying areas--slopes, parking strips, meadows, or vegetable gardens.

How to promote self-sowing

Wind, birds, and foot traffic can scatter seeds--or you can collect seeds and scatter them where you want new plants. For best germination, seeds need open space where light and water can penetrate. (In the desert, water if necessary in fall to prevent soil from crusting over.) If you're a meticulous gardener who constantly removes dead flower heads, you may have to change your ways to let self-sowers establish themselves.

Once new plants develop their first pair of true leaves, it's easy to distinguish them from weeds. Some (such as calendula, cineraria, and coreopsis) transplant well after their true leaves develop.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1990
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