I am a bit of a tart when it comes to plants and there are not many I can say no to. Ask me at any time and my favourite plant will change but right now I have to say that the best bit of gardening I did last year was to sow wallflowers.
You need to be organised to enjoy them at their best though because they need to be sown in June or July, soon after the flowers of the last lot fade. Although they are strictly woody perennials and they can be kept for a second season, they are best treated as biennials and discarded after flowering. You can sometimes buy bunches of wallflower plants in autumn but if you want a choice of varieties it is best to grow your own. Bunches of wallflower plants are not always in good condition when you buy them and the alternative is to buy pots of small seedlings but these are a waste of time. Wallflowers do not grow much after they are planted (in October) so you need to plant mature, well-branched plants. The other possible problem with buying bunched plants is that they are grown in the ground and it is possible that you can introduce clubroot into your garden.
So mine were sown early July last year. They were then transplanted, 15cm apart, in early September and the tips were pinched out to make them bush out and then planted in mid October. Of course they were watered well after both transplanting. They lose a few leaves after transplanting but you don’t need to worry about this.
The trouble with this is that it is so easy to forget to sow them, with so much else going on. It is always worth getting good seeds. I am not necessarily a believer in F1 hybrids when it comes to wallflowers and I don’t like the very dwarf ones. I am also not very convinced about the new types that flower in autumn as well as spring because I would rather wait for a full display in spring rather than a smattering of frost-damaged flowers in January. Most of the batches this year are ‘Fair Lady Mixed’ which has a good colour range and I like the pastel colours as well as the stronger shades but there are no ugly wallflowers.