It’s the most wonderful time of the year — if you love flowers, herbs, and plants! Spring brings opportunities galore to transform your outdoor space with a variety of beautiful annuals and herbs. Vibrant colors, heady aromas, and a landscape that’s destined to be the envy of the neighborhood await! With the right tools at your disposal and a variety of options to color your world, you’ll find that it’s easy to grow these outdoor stunners and show off many different shades and shapes. Here’s everything you need to know.
Spring is the right time to start adopting a few cool weather-friendly annuals and adding them to your outdoor design plan. If your landscape could use a pop of brightness, look to snapdragons, marigolds, petunias, and dahlias. For a breath of fresh air and a nod to natural beauty, try dusty miller or potted English ivy. Their robust leaves will transform the appearance of your yard!
The secret to your annuals’ success? Transplant them to the garden at the right time. A hardy snapdragon, or any type of tolerant plant, will do wonderfully when you plant it early in the season. A half-hardy annual, like a French marigold, won’t bloom if the threat of a severe frost persists. Once those early spring days pass, however, you can transplant it to the ground. Tender annuals, like celosia, will thrive only when there’s no danger of frost.
Remember that when you buy flats or potted plants, they’ll have a rather sturdy mass of roots at the base. Before planting, loosen this structure just enough so the roots spread more efficiently. Then you can use a slow-release fertilizer, or an organic product, for nourishment. Once you do this, you won’t have to do it again — too much fertilizer can yield too much foliage, which may mask the appearance of those gorgeous flowers!
As for mulch, it’s necessary to prevent weeds from sprouting around your annuals — but you don’t want to apply too much of anything too close to the plants. Those familiar mounds you see piled around tree trunks can harm plants by causing suffocation. And proximity to the plant itself can actually cause the leaves to burn, especially if the mulch mixture contains easy-burn materials like raw wood. Avoid the “volcano” effect and use a pitchfork to gently spread out the material around the plant instead.
Moisture matters, too. Since annuals don’t have very deep roots, they require frequent watering. Don’t water from the top, however; that may cause some discoloration and rob the blossoms of their natural beauty. Aim a hose directly at the soil instead, or use drip irrigation for best results.
Finally, be mindful of each plant’s unique lighting needs. Some may require full sun exposure, while others might do best with partial shade. In the right environment, the plants should flower throughout the season until the next cold front comes into town. But to ensure that they thrive, you need to deadhead the plants just as you notice the first signs of wilting. Since annuals are quick to flower, you need to remove any decaying growth right away to encourage fresh, healthy flowers to continue to grow. It’s easy: Just remove the old blooms periodically for the best results!
If you have your heart set on an aromatic herb garden, you’ll be delighted with the end results. Herbs are beneficial for so many reasons, not the least of which is their wonderful fragrance. They possess numerous medicinal benefits, can be used to experiment with natural healing techniques, and are easy to implement into household projects, like miniature sachets to give as holiday gifts and potpourri to add some freshness to your living space. And, of course, they make amazing additions to your homemade dishes!
There are many wonderful options to consider during spring, including rosemary, spearmint, lavender, oregano, parsley, dill, fennel, coriander, and chives. All of these look resplendent and add a touch of charm and character to your landscape. As they grow, their natural fragrances will come out, their crisp greens will burst, and they’ll take on a rich, abundant appearance.
As with annuals, the key to growing a healthy herb garden is to ensure optimal soil conditions with proper drainage. Avoid using standard garden soils, like topsoil, as these are considerably heavier and can hold onto far too much moisture in the rain. Potting soil is the superior choice for herbs because of its lightweight texture and airy consistency.
When watering, keep in mind that applying too much can cause root rot and lead to quick spoilage and fungal disease. That said, you do need to water most types of herbs frequently, ideally at least once every week, to ensure that they remain vibrant and lively throughout the season. Be sure to aim for the soil and not the actual herbs, or you risk reducing their fragrance and weighing them down. For best results, check the soil. It should feel moist, but there shouldn’t be any pools of water present.
An exception to the rule is the drought-friendly herb, such as rosemary or lavender. These herbs prefer drier environments, so too much water and humidity could increase the likelihood of spoilage and rob them of their flavor and color.
The majority of herbs perform well in full, direct sunlight for at least six or more hours a day. If your yard is shaded, don’t worry — you have options, including chives, cilantro, and parsley, all of which thrive in partial light. Herbs tend to become irritated when they’re exposed to harsh conditions, like excessive wind. The closer you can plant them to your home or another structure, the more shelter they’ll have from potential threats. Just don’t sacrifice too much sunlight!
Fortunately, many herbs can grow year-round and are quite cold-hardy, like chives, rosemary, and mint. If you choose to bring them inside during the colder months, you’ll need to place them in enough sunlight so you can bring them safely out of dormancy and back to the garden for the return of another successful spring season.