Color us obsessed with the amazing annual! Thanks to a short life cycle, these plants quickly produce gorgeous flowers that add a pop of brilliance to your landscape during the summer months. Want to dress up a bare patch of lawn? Need to breathe new life into your outdoor space? Just feel like reinvigorating your curb appeal a bit? Annuals can do all of the above and instantly transform your yard into the envy of the neighborhood.
Another bonus? You can experiment! Add petunias and begonias one season, then play with zinnias and impatiens another. Why commit yourself to one when you can have so much fun? For all their beauty and variety, however, they do require some proper care and maintenance to remain bright and beautiful all summer long. Fortunately, annual care is relatively easy and straightforward, and with some time and commitment, you can be sure they’ll look their best throughout the season.
What’s one thing your annuals simply cannot live without? Yep, water — and lots of it, because they have very shallow root systems. Do so right after they’re planted, and continue to water them at least once a day. Even if there’s rain in the forecast, it would need to be the right type of rainfall to really have any effect. Some drizzle or a minuscule shower won’t do much to truly moisten the soil. So even when it rains, be sure to get out there and give your annuals a good feeding.
Bear in mind that you might need to water your annuals multiple times a day depending on the conditions outside. By the thick of summer, excessive heat has the potential to cause flowers to wilt. Prepare for those circumstances by giving them enough water in the morning, then check the soil later in the day. If it’s dry at least an inch under the surface, it’s time to water again.
Although water is vital to your annuals’ ability to thrive throughout the summer, you don’t want the soil to become so saturated that the roots start to die off. Make sure to choose a soil that drains well, so that the water is there just long enough for the roots to soak it all up.
Also important to successful watering is applying enough mulch. Because annuals thrive during the hottest periods of the year, you need to protect the soil from becoming too hot. Mulch regulates its temperature and helps the water stay put. It will also protect the soil from other elements, like drying wind.
The right combination of nutrients is vital to a healthy garden of annuals. Three key elements contribute to their progress: potassium, which is vital for maintaining strong roots and resisting disease, phosphorus, which contributes to better-established roots and allows flowers to thrive, and nitrogen, which stimulates plant growth. Usually, the soil contains enough nutrients to support exactly what the plants need.
Sometimes, however, your annuals might need a little more attention in this department. An all-purpose 10-10-10 product offers enough to help the plants thrive and the flowers to bloom. For more robust greenery, look for something that contains more nitrogen. Remember that you need enough water to allow the fertilizer to do its best work. If the plants are dry when you fertilize, then those valuable nutrients can’t effectively reach the roots. Adequate moisture is essential.
Sure, you love to admire your amazing handiwork, but have you taken a really close look lately? Deadheading might be in order. When your blooms have fully flourished, the plants go to seed — it’s a natural part of the reproductive process. If you want to prevent this from happening prematurely in the season, however, you can deadhead the tired blooms to make way for fresher, healthier ones.
This is a simple process. Just pinch away the flower head! Now, instead of going to seed, the plant can put a little more energy into generating more fresh flowers and elongate the blooming phase in the process. That’s it! Your garden will look beautiful and bountiful all season long when you give your annuals the love and attention they need.