If you want plenty of dazzling colour for very little money and effort, annuals are the plants for you. Here are three essential tips for making the most of your annual flowers.
Rollicking beds filled with marigolds, nasturtiums, and zinnias can be yours for the price of a packet of seeds, or you can buy transplants in six-packs and pop them into a bed—or perhaps create a beautiful container bouquet for your deck or patio.
Like most vegetables, annual flowers grow for only one season, so they give you plenty of versatility from one year to the next.
- You can even choose between annuals that prefer cool weather, such as calendulas and pansies, and others that never complain when summer rolls into town.
Annuals come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, too, from vigorous vines for covering a chain-link fence to compact dwarfs perfect for edging a walkway. Wherever you want a spot of colour, there is an annual flower perfect for the job.
Here are a few tips on getting the most from these rewarding plants.
1. Don’t start too early
Young nursery plants are often grown in sultry greenhouses and may not be hardened off properly.
- After you buy plants, keep them in a protected spot outdoors for a few days to give them a chance to get used to the sun and wind.
- Water daily to make sure they don’t dry out.
- Unless the flowers are hardy types, wait until after the last frost to set them out in your garden.
2. Befriend the great indoors
Sow half-hardy annuals indoors to give them a head start.
- You can start seeds in individual containers or plant a whole tray if you want numerous plants in one colour.
- To make sure they’re evenly spaced, place chicken wire over your seeding tray and put a seed in each opening. This makes it easier to separate the seedlings for transplanting.
3. Bag it up
Before setting out small plants in a windy or exposed area, put them in paper bags containing good soil, then set the bags in the ground, leaving five centimetres (two inches) of the rims above soil level.
The seedlings will be sheltered, and as they grow, the paper will decay and let the roots reach into the surrounding soil.