How to Care for Annuals
Among the easiest of flowers, annuals stay healthier and produce more blooms if you keep them in tip-top condition. These annual care tips will teach you the best way to keep your annuals flowering.
- Many annuals need water every day, especially if they are in the sun. Don't wait for your annuals to wilt before you water. Instead, look for signs such as loss of gloss on leaves — or simply stick your finger into the soil.
- Most annuals like soil slightly and evenly moist 2 or 3 inches down.
- When you water, if possible, water the soil, not the plants. Many annuals, especially petunias, object to wet leaves and petals.
- Set the hose on the ground on a drizzle or use soaker hoses.
Mulch suppresses weeds, conserves moisture and prevents many soil-borne diseases. After planting, mulch your annuals with 1 to 3 inches of aged wood chips (fresh mulch can stunt plant growth), grass clippings, pine needles, bark or other organic mulch. Avoid gravel or stone, which tends to create conditions that are too hot and dry for most annuals.
- Good soil is a necessity for your annuals. Today’s soils have everything you need. Even if you've already planted them, it's not too late.
- Spread the bed with a layer of garden soil and work it into the top 2 or 3 inches of soil around the annuals.
- If you are planting in a container, use potting soil. Many contain fertilizer also for lonlasting blooms.
- Annuals grow rapidly and need plenty of fuel. Work a slow-release fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Or use a liquid fertilizer on annuals in a garden bed every seven to 14 days.
- Encourage new blooms by deadheading, which is pinching, snapping or cutting off dead blooms.
- Petunias, geraniums, salvia and marigolds need to be pinched back on the stem to the base to prevent the plant from going to seed and to encourage continuous blooms.
- Deadheading is not necessary on annuals such as impatiens, flowering vinca, lobelia and begonias.