Annuals - Get the Best Results When You Plant
I love annuals! Even though they only last for a year, I think that’s a
good thing! That way, you can try something new every year and get a nice change in your garden.
Annuals are among the most popular varieties of flowers for both beginning and experienced gardeners and are known
for their hardiness, their ease of growing and of course their bright and vibrant colors.
You will find that annuals are easy to start directly from seed, keeping planting costs to a minimum, and most
types of annuals can be started right by using seed boxes. The seeds should always be started inside (or in a
green-house), and it is important to provide them with plenty of light and well-drained soil as the seedlings are
establishing themselves. After the seedlings have gotten a good start indoors, they are then replanted
outside in the garden.
For those who do not want to grow their annuals from seed, seedlings can be bought directly and transplanted
immediately. This approach is generally more expensive, but it provides a quicker time between planting your
flowers and enjoying them.
Whether you start your annuals from seed or buy ready made transplants, annuals should be planted to a depth at
which the tops of the roots are just below the surface of the soil. If buying seedlings, it is important to
be sure that all fiber, paper, plastic pots and other packing material are removed before the seedlings are
planted. If peat pots are used for transplantation, the top edge of the pots should be removed before they
are planted. This wail help prevent the pot from pulling precious
water away from the roots.
Now, this might be the hardest part about planting seedlings, it’s always hard to remove pretty flowers, but if
the seedlings have any buds or flowers on them, they should be pinched off when the seedlings are planted.
This will promote greater branching and help the plant grow stronger.
After the seedlings have been transplanted, the plants should be given a good watering. It is particularly
important to provide lots of water in the first few weeks, since the plants are still developing their root
structure during this time. It is essential to provide adequate moisture to get the plants off to a good
start. Even after planting, most annuals require from 1 to 1½ inches of water every week to thrive.
Even more water may be needed in very hot climates or during heat waves in cooler climates.
Sufficient watering is a good way to encourage the deep root system that annuals need in order to thrive.
By watering deeply and thoroughly the gardener can encourage this deep root growth. The best methods for
achieving this deep and thorough watering are soaker hoses and drip irrigation. In addition, these methods of
watering avoid water splashes on the foliage, which can serve as pathways to fungal infections.
Proper mulching is important for annuals to grow properly as well. Prior to planting, the flowerbed should
be mulched with a two to three inch layer of pine straw or pine bark. Mulching serves to conserve the
moisture contained in the soil and to reduce the growth of weeds. A good layer of mulch will shade the seeds
of weeds and prevent them from sprouting. Mulch provides a natural form of weed control and thereby
eliminates the need for hand weeding or harsh chemicals to control the growth of weeds.
Fertilization needs vary between varieties of annuals, so it is important to determine the needs of the
varieties you purchase. Some varieties of annuals require more fertilization during their growing season,
while others do not.
Even though they’re called annuals, they sometimes surprise you and come back the next year, not to worry, treat
them the same as you did the first year, and give yourself a pat on the back for being such a great gardener!