Annuals: Gardens Come Alive with Colour
Annuals are those plants whose life cycle is completed within a single season. The seed germinates, the plants bloom, set seed and then die ñ from spring to the following autumn. Owing to their short life span, annuals allow you to experiment and express yourself anew each year.
Annuals should be planted so that they complement the plants around them, for example, mauve or orchid-coloured Petunias in front of a yellow-flowering potentilla shrub, low-growing white Alyssum interplanted with blue Forget-me nots, or blue Ageratum and yellow Calendula surrounding red Salvia.
The bulk of annuals prefer sunny locations but the following list will help you choose plants for all areas of your garden.
Annuals, often referred to as bedding plants, show themselves best when planted in groups rather than individually. Even when planting on a small scale, use a minimum of three plants and try to plant so that each group overlaps with the one beside it, creating a unified flow rather than isolated spots of colour.
In designing your garden, keep in mind that annuals offer a tremendous range of heights accommodating virtually any area in your yard. Here is a small but representative sampling of the possibilities:
Ageratum Blue Blazer 15 cm
Browallia 30 cm
Butterfly Snapdragons 75 cm
Celosia plumosa 45 cm
Dahlia-flowering Zinnias 90 cm
Dusty Miller 20 cm
Dwarf Marigolds 20 cm
Evening Scented Stock 38 cm
Fibrous-rooted Begonia 25 cm
Geraniums 36 cm
Dwarf Impatiens 18 cm
Lobelia 13 cm
Petunia 25 cm
Sweet Alyssum 10 cm
How to Plant Annuals
1. Prepare the flower bed to a depth of 30 cm, using good soil, composted manure and peat moss, all well mixed.
2. Gently loosen the roots of each plant as you remove them from the cell-pack
3. Water thoroughly and fertilize each plant with 5-15-5 plant starter.
4. Keep the bed well watered for the first two weeks until the plants are rooted.Then water once a week with a soluble fertilizer, 20-20-20 or 15-30-15.
5. In choosing and placing your annuals, consider their need for sun or shade.
6. Should the floral display diminish, pinch the plants by nipping or cutting the stems back. In a week or so your plants will look better than ever. Do this before going on vacation and your garden will delight you when you return.