If you are thinking of growing a different type of annual this year, something unusual for containers take a look at Love lies Bleeding especially as we approach Valentine's day. Amaranthus is easy to grow from seed and produces long tassells usually red which remain on the plant for weeks, a really showy statement and good for flower arranging. Love lies bleeding looks good in containers, seen here with Nasturtiums and Begonia. I prefer the trailing variety which is caudatus and this year I am planning to plant it on mass in a hanging basket so the tassells trail down.
To grow from seed put seed compost into a seed tray or small pots, sow and cover very lightly with compost and place in a propagator. If sowing early I often use a heated mat to generate some warmth to kick start the germination, and then grow on in a frost free environment, which means under glass, in a greenhouse,conservatory or window sill. Once large enough to handle pot onto small pots of compost and sometimes I pot on again depending on the amount of growth and how long they are being kept under glass.
A good tip, which applies for most bedding type plants, is to pot up the container or basket with the summer bedding and leave it to settle and grow on for a couple of weeks or so in the greenhouse which gives time for the plants to develop further before facing the English summer. The marvellous bedding on sale at garden centres has been raised in ideal conditions, just the right heat, light and humidity and it can be a shock to be planted out into our summer.
Amaranthus enjoy a sunny spot and flower well. Only plant outside once the risk of frost is past as they originate from the warm areas of the globe.