Add annuals to your garden for a season of beautiful blooms
If you're looking for bright bursts of color in your garden to last throughout
the growing season, you can plant annuals in flower beds and along borders.
They also make an excellent choice for container gardens or hanging baskets,
livening up outdoor spaces during the warmer months. A true annual completes
its life in a single growing season and is characterized by an extended
blooming season that lasts throughout early summer and sometimes into the
fall. Before deciding which annuals are right for your garden, consider the
Planting, Maintenance and Selection
Since growing seasons can change drastically from region to region, be sure you know when the typical season begins and ends in your area. Be careful not to plant too early, since unexpected cold snaps can damage or destroy delicate plants. Similarly, planting too late might not produce the best results as plants may not have the opportunity to take root and grow to their full potential. If you use fertilizers to hasten growth and enhance appearance, be sure to use the right amount and type for best results. With proper planting and maintenance you can help ensure that your garden exhibits hearty, robust beauty that will thrive all summer long.
Planting Tips: Starting young annuals off on the right foot begins with proper planting practices. If you are placing annuals in beds, till or break up the soil beforehand. Well-drained soil with moderate humus content works best. You'll want to be sure to match your plants to the appropriate area, considering such elements as soil, climate and exposure to the sun. Most annuals prefer full sun, which equates to somewhere between six and eight hours per day. Some annuals prefer partial shade, however, and a few do well in complete shade. Spacing of plants is based upon the mature size of the particular species, so consult the growing directions provided with the plant or seed packet.
When to Plant: Planting at the right time of year and the right time of day is
important to ensure your plants take hold in the soil and flourish. It is safe
to plant most annuals after the danger of frost is past, although some may be
planted sooner. The best time to plant is late in the afternoon. Choose a
cloudy day or late afternoon or evening for planting.
Maintaining Annuals: After planting, annuals continue to require care
and attention so they remain healthy and keep blooming. Fertilize plants once
or twice during the growing season, if needed. Soil that has been enriched
with compost may not require fertilizer. Annuals need anywhere from 1" to
1-1/2" of water per week during the growing season. Water plants thoroughly to
encourage deep root growth. If you are watering plants overhead, water early
in the morning to allow foliage to dry completely as dampness encourages
disease. Adding mulch to your flower beds helps keep moisture in the soil
longer, while also reducing weeds and enhancing presentation. Adding between
2" and 3" of a mulch variety seems to yield the most effective results.
Selecting Annuals: Annuals come in a number of varieties. Some are
suited to certain climates or soils while others prefer shady areas or thrive
better in full sunlight. Once you determine where you wish to place your
annuals, be sure that the selections you make match the defining
characteristics of the plant. To find suitable options for your garden or
landscaping project consult the following chart.
|Characteristics of Popular Annuals|
Seeds: Motivated gardeners with the appropriate indoor conditions can start annuals indoors from seeds. Starting seeds requires plenty of space, good light and proper temperature levels. Seeds are more cost effective than buying live plants. They do, however, require more time and maintenance.
Live Plants: Choose live plants if starting plants from seeds is not practical or desirable. Live plants come in individual containers or packs of four or more. Choose plants that are deep green in color and are neither too compact nor spindly. Also, look for plants that have not yet bloomed. If you cannot plant the annuals right away, set them in a lightly shaded spot and keep watered until they can be placed in the ground.
Containers and Hanging Baskets: Annuals provide beautiful color for container gardens and hanging baskets to liven up your porch or add spots of color to beds or borders. Containers provide a more ideal root-zone environment. Because there is limited space around the plant, they can dry out more quickly and must be watered frequently. Soil-less growing materials, such as peat and vermiculite, work well for growing annuals in containers and baskets.
Screens and Hedges: Some fast-growing annual vines can be used as screens when grown on trellises or fences. Examples include morning glory and moonvine. Sunflowers are another annual that provide a brilliant backdrop to a garden or yard.
Buy fertilizer for your plants. Annuals in containers need extra nutrients to keep the blooms coming. The Home Depot has a wide variety of plant foods, fertilizers and pest control products to keep your garden looking healthy all season long.
To learn more about annuals and how to care for them, pick up a copy of The Home Depot's Flower Gardening 1-2-3.