Gardening Guide

118 Gardening Annual Flower Section


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Welcome to Gardening Guide


118 Gardening Annual Flower Article

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Thoughts on Gardening - Annual Flowers


One of the most pressing questions a gardener faces is whether to plant annuals or perennials. Perennials are plants which don’t die after one growing season, while annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one year, going from seed to seed and then dying, over the span of one growing season. According to many experienced gardeners, gardening annual flowers is the way to go, especially if you’re a novice gardener. Annuals will come to flower almost immediately after you plant them and many will bloom for the whole growing season. What’s more, since annuals only last one growing season, next season you have the opportunity to create a whole new garden.

Annuals are very adaptable plants and though the majority requires good light, an average amount of water and relatively nutrient-rich soil, you will be able to find annuals to fit even the most extreme type of gardening. Annual flowers like ageratum, browallia, coleus, dianthus, fuschia, impatiens, lobelia, pansy, salvia, inca, and wishbone flower, do well in partly shady environments. A few annuals, like poppies, grow in only the poorest soils; annuals can grow in either wet or dry climates, and either wet or dry areas of your garden. Drought tolerant annuals include cleome, dusty miller, globe amaranth, petunias and zinnia, while annuals that do well in wet or boggy areas include browallia, fuchsia, nicotiania, and pansy. Annuals grow well in containers and cut annuals are wonderful to use in flower arrangements.

Some annuals are considered hardy annuals, being able to tolerate the first frosts without dying, blooming and setting seed as far as into the next year. Eventually, though, they will die. These can be planted in the fall or spring before the last frost. Calendula, cornflower, foxglove, larkspur, pansy, sweet alyssum, stocks, viola, and dianthus are hardy annuals; these types of flowers usually can not tolerate the heat.

Then there are half-hardy annuals, which can tolerate cold, damp weather but cannot handle frost or freezing temperatures. These can be planted after the last spring frost and include baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, blue sage, candytuft, celome, forget-me-nots, love-in-a-mist, snow-on-the-mountain, strawflower, and torenia. Midsummer sees many half-hardy annuals looking a little faded, but some may start to rebloom in late summer or fall before dying.

Finally, there are tender annuals, which are extremely sensitive to cold soil temperatures and are damaged by frost and freezing temperatures. Indeed, the seeds of tender annuals will rot and not germinate if soil temperatures are below 60 degrees. Two to three weeks from the last spring frost should pass before these are planted outdoors. Tender annuals include ageratum, balsam, begonia, celosia, coleus, globe amaranth, impatiens, marigold, morning glory, nasturtium, nicotiana, petunia, scarlet sage, verbena, vinca, and zinnia.

Furthermore, there are cool season annuals and warm season annuals.
Examples of the former would be pansies, geranium, petunia, and snapdragon which will start to wilt with the summer heat. Indeed, cool-season annuals like temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the day and they bloom best in spring and fall. Examples of warm-season annuals would be zinnias, blue daze, four-o’clocks, and pentas, which can’t grow until temperatures get warmer, into the 80s and 90s during the day and 60s and 70s at night.

So you’ve decided to try your hand with gardening annual flowers, you have a list of flowers, but you don’t know which ones you should start with. You could go with violas and pansies, which bloom literally for weeks and some can even handle a mild frost. Snapdragons may also be a good idea. They come in a stunning variety of colors and can get quite tall. Or, you could choose petunias, a favorite of many gardeners. There is a wide variety to choose from and they are very easy to care for. Petunias bloom best in cool temperatures. A good plant to start from seed is nasturtium, a flower that blooms throughout the summer and into the fall, advertising fall colors. Lastly, have a look at lobelia, which blooms in cool temperatures and can handle a partly shady location.

Once you’ve decided what flowers you wish to grow in your gardening annual flowers adventure, it’s time to get into the actual planting. In general, late afternoon is a good time for planting. You should water your soon-to-be-beautiful flowers and the soil in which they’re to be put as well before you do anything. Take the plants out of their pots very gently or you will disturb the roots, and if the roots are very compacted, you should loosen them gently with your hands before putting the plant in the ground.

Your work doesn’t end with putting the plant in the ground, however. Though most annuals are low maintenance plants, they still require care to allow them to grow healthy and strong. Obviously, your garden needs to be weeded and watered (each plant has its own individual requirements for water, so make sure you don’t over- or under-water). Furthermore, since the whole ‘purpose’ of an annual flower is to produce seed and propagate, if you remove the faded flowers before they set seed, the plant will produce more flowers to further its goal of producing seeds. This process of picking the faded flowers is called ‘deadheading’ and is a very important aspect in keeping your annual garden vibrant. Some gardeners also remove the growing tip of annual flowers, which encourages bushier, more compact and neater growth. Many annuals can be cut in mid to late summer to get them to flower again in the fall. Be responsible in gardening annual flowers and you won’t be disappointed!