With the return of warm weather, our thoughts turn to spending time in our gardens. For many of us, that means adding colorful annual flowers. Annual flowers are an easy way to add beauty to your outdoor space through the summer. Whether you plant them in the ground, in gardening containers, hanging planters, or even in your vegetable garden, the versatility of these colorful plants is almost limitless.
The optimal time for planting annuals revolves around your growing season. It is best to plant them after the danger of frost has passed in your area. If you live in a frost-free region, look to plant in early spring. It’s a good idea to plant in spring, which gives annuals time to grow roots and establish before the heat of summer arrives.
While many flowers can thrive in small pots, this isn’t always true if you live in an area with hot summers. Hot air temperatures can literally ‘cook’ the roots of your plants in small plants. Larger containers help to provide insulation for the roots and dry out less quickly, especially with annuals that often need a lot of water to survive. There are other solutions, as well, that can give you great results. For example, selecting a plastic versus clay planter will maintain humidity inside your container for longer. Double wall planters are insulated with a layer of air to maintain cooler temperatures inside your pot. TruDrop self-watering planters work great outdoors to feed and water your plants consistently and give you lots of time between watering.
Popular spots to add annuals are near your front door, a courtyard or patio, around a pool, or outside any window that you look out of frequently. They also make lovely additions to the vegetable garden, where they can add a bright splash of color.
Selecting annuals to plant should be fun! Maybe a particular flower brings back memories of loved ones, or maybe you want to match your outdoor furniture design. Whether you delight in using several types to create the perfect color palette or choose a single color for a striking impact, have fun with this step and choose ones that bring enjoyment.
Garden centers and box stores typically have a large selection of flowering annuals. When shopping, look for smaller-sized annuals in six-packs as they establish more quickly than larger ones. Even though it’s tempting to grab annuals covered with open flowers, look for ones that haven’t opened yet. With fully-flowered annuals, the blooms don’t last very long after you plant them. Better to go with those ready to bloom once you’ve planted them!
The types of flowering annuals available to you depend on what type of summers your region experiences. Generally, mild summers have average temps under 90 degrees F. Regions with hot summers tend to stay above 90 degrees. Your local nursery or garden center should carry the appropriate ones for your climate.
Here are some great choices based on the type of summer you experience – M (mild), H (hot):
Annuals for Summer Gardens
|Sweet Potato Vine||M, H|
*Note that many summer annuals appropriate for areas with mild summers can be grown in hotter regions during the cooler months.
Designing with annuals is a great way to add interest to your outdoor space, and you can change it up seasonally. For a bold statement, create a mass planting of a single type of annual in the same color, which works well when planted in either the ground or in pots. Calibrochoa, lobelia, marigolds, petunias, and vinca are great choices to achieve this effect.
A popular method for combining different plants is to create a ‘thriller, filler, and spiller’ effect, which is particularly effective when done in containers. The ‘thriller’ is a taller annual such as geranium or snapdragons located in the center. Angelonia, celosia, marigolds, and petunias make great ‘filler’ plants, which occupy the middle of the arrangement. To finish, ‘spiller’ plants such as alyssum, bacopa, lobelia, and sweet potato vine are planted along the sides and spill over the edges of pots.
Flowering annuals are a great way to beautify your outdoor space through the summer months. Don’t be afraid to experiment each summer with new combinations that will give your container garden a fresh new look. Remember to have fun and plant the flowers that are pleasing to you.