Sow prairie daisies

Start them off now for months of dazzling blooms

You can sow seeds now

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It’s a lovely thought to contemplate a sea of summer daisies bobbing in a summer breeze. Well, you can get that vision going now by sowing some spectacular blooms – among the very best are rudbeckia and echinacea, two lovely ‘prairie’ perennials (or sometimes annuals) that suit a sunny spot. Woven among tall grasses and other perennials, such as Verbena bonariensis, they’ll bring some dazzle to your plot.

Both these largely tall daisies are in the Asteraceae family and originate in North America, growing predominantly in open prairieland in sunshine. There are many species and bred varieties that come in an array of yellows and pinks, orange, peach and burgundy to create a fine, summery ‘hot’ colour palette.

In the greenhouse or on a windowsill, simply tamp down some good quality seed compost in pots or trays and surface sow the seed lightly. Cover with a very fine sprinkling of more compost; use a sieve for best effect. They only need a very fine covering as light helps germination, which should be in two to three weeks. Keep compost lightly moist and transplant seedlings when they’re large enough to handle their own pots for growing on. Plant out in the garden when the risk of frost has passed in your area.

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Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’

Ones to try

Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’: A jewel-like mix of sunset colours from yellow through oranges to pinks and reds. H: 80cm (2¾ft).

Echinacea ‘Magnus’: Very large flowers in coral pink but unlike other echinacea, this holds its petals horizontally. H: 1m (3¼ft).

Rudbeckia ‘Rustic Dwarfs’: Rich yellow, gold, bronze and mahogany blooms with black cone. Good for pots, too. H: 60cm (2ft).

Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’: Flowers of the deepest crimson-maroon red with dark chocolate centres. H: 60cm (2ft).

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