Annuals are short-lived plants that sprout in the spring, grow flowers during the summer months, go to seed in the fall and die off in the winter. The seeds produced by the flowers of the annual plant are very hardy and survive during the harshest of winters. Even under severe conditions, these seeds will sprout come springtime.
In warmer climates, a number of annuals will survive longer than one season as long as they are not subjected to a winter frost. This type of annual is referred to as a tender perennial. Tender perennials include geraniums, coleus, impatiens and lantana.
Annuals can be either started from seed or purchased as transplants. The easier of these two methods is to start with transplants. Transplants will get a garden off to a quick start. Also, at the end of the summer, the transplanted annuals will set seed, which can be collected and started indoors during the winter months, or they can be allowed to scatter on the ground so that new annuals will appear in the same place the following spring.
Before putting transplants in the ground, prepare the soil by adding organic material or compost to improve the soil fertility and improve drainage. When adding organic material or compost, work 3 to 4 inches of organic material into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.
When planting transplants, follow these guidelines:
Basic Care Of Annuals
Most annuals require a minimal amount of care and maintenance. All it takes to keep annuals healthy and long-lasting is to make sure that the annuals receive the right amount of water, are kept weed free and are pinched back on a regular basis.
Annuals prefer deep, infrequent waterings. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. By giving plants a deep soak, the plants develop a deep root system. When watering annual plants, do not wet the leaves. Keeping the leaves dry will help prevent foliar diseases.
Weeds should be kept out of the area where annuals are planted. Weeds compete with annuals for space and nutrients. This is especially important when plants are young and small. As plants get larger, the shade from the leaves will make it difficult for weeds to grow.
Probably the most important maintenance task for annuals is continual pinching back and deadheading. To keep annuals compact and bushy, pinch off the new tips on a regular basis. Pinching encourages the plant to branch, which makes the plant bushier. After pinching back the plant, water deeply to encourage new growth.
Deadheading is another important task. By cutting off the spent flowers before the seeds set, the plant will produce flowers for a longer period of time. Deadheading is only required on plants where the spent flowers do not fall off the plant automatically.
There are thousands of varieties of annuals that come in a rainbow of colors and all kinds of growth habits. Here are a few popular annuals that will work well in most gardens and climates.
There are also a number of herbs that have an annual growth habit. Here are just a few:
Annuals are a great way to change the look of a garden from year to year. Because annuals are temporary, they offer the gardener the opportunity to experiment with different plants, colors, leaf types and growth habits. Annuals also are a great way to fill in blank spots in a garden, such as those spaces left bare after spring bulbs die back.
By Coletta TeskeΙ on Ideal Home and Garden