Get Creative Color and Texture with Annual Flowers This Season

aspen annual flowersThis summer enjoy bright, bountiful bursts of color in your garden that will last throughout the growing season by simply adding summer annual flowers in beds, along borders, in container gardens, hanging baskets or outdoor spaces. A true annual completes its life cycle in a single growing season, therefore requires replacement every year.

With proper planting and maintenance you can help ensure robust beauty that will thrive all summer long. To help you get started, here are some tips for using summer annual flowers this year.

When to plant:
Since growing seasons can change drastically depending on the 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 weather, frost or freeze can destroy delicate plants.

Here in the Southern West Virginia area, a nice rule of thumb is planting summer annuals after Mother’s Day weekend. If you fertilize to promote growth and appearance, be sure to follow manufacturer’s label recommendation for best results. Planting annuals later in the day yields better results because they have all night to recover from transplant shock and don’t have to deal with the heat of the day. Always water plants at the time of installation.

Selecting location/plant:
If you are placing annuals in beds, till or break up the soil beforehand. Well drained soil with moderate humus content works best. Mixing store bought planting soils will help soils that are not ideal.

Selecting proper location by considering the soil, climate and exposure to the sun is vital! Most annuals prefer full sun, which means somewhere between six and eight hours per day. Other varieties prefer partial shade and a few do well in complete shade. It is important to follow these guidelines, often found on the information card, when purchasing.

Spacing of plants is based upon the mature size of the particular species. The information card often gives spacing recommendations and guidelines for the size the plant can be expected to reach.

When planting:
Before planting, gently untangle roots to help plants take hold of the soil more easily. Submerge the root ball in a bucket of water, so it is completely saturated when planting.

  • Holes for each plant should be slightly larger than the root ball
  • Plants should stand in the ground at or slightly above soil level
  • Carefully tamp down the earth around the plant for stability and reduction of air pockets
  • Water thoroughly, until well established

Maintaining Annuals:
After planting, annuals continue to require care and attention in order to get the best results. Fertilize plants once or twice during the growing season. Many outdoor retailers offer a variety of fertilizer types including concentrates, granular and hose attachable feeders. Soil that has been enriched by compost may not require fertilizer.

Plants should be watered thoroughly to encourage deep root growth. If you are watering plants from above, water early in the morning to allow foliage to dry completely, as dampness encourages disease. Otherwise, water at the base of the plant.

Adding mulch to your flower beds help keep moisture in the soil longer, while also reducing weeds and enhancing presentation. Adding 2-3 inches of mulch yields the best result.

Weeding improves the appearance of your flower bed and eliminates the places for insects and disease to grow.

Most varieties require the dead blooms to be trimmed or pinched off, which encourages new growth and keeps plants looking healthy and alive.