Quick Guide: How to Care for Annuals

If you have ever watched…

your annual plants or flowers die before their time,

you may need to change your strategy.

Generally, annuals do not require complicated maintenance plans,

but they do need some basic care.

You do not need to have extensive knowledge about plant care,

and no costly tools are necessary to successfully grow annuals.

Like many other types of flowers and plants, annuals need fertile soil,

sunshine, water, fertilizer and some maintenance in order to survive.

When and Where to Plant

Many people make the mistake of planting annuals too soon.

This can lead to poor growth, and it can prevent some plants from flowering at all.

Certain areas experience late frosts which can adversely affect a plant that is deposited too soon.

Most varieties of annuals need stable climates and warmer soils to thrive.

Waiting until late spring should ensure that there will be no unexpected frosts to damage your plants. 

Before you plant your flowers, water the soil well.

Plant in the late afternoon hours.

Make sure the pH of your soil is between 5.5 and 7.0.

You can adjust acidic soil by adding lime, and alkaline levels can be evened out with aluminum sulfate.

Add compost, small pea gravel or pine bark to clay soil.

Sandy soil can be improved with peat moss or pine bark.

Choose soil that drains well in order to have a healthy bed for your annuals.

Some annual plants and flowers can survive in partially shaded areas.

These include impatiens, pansies, wax begonias, wishbone flowers, lobelias, ageratums and salvias.

Annuals that do not thrive well in the shade generally need to receive approximately six hours of sunshine each day.

Before planting, determine if the species you selected can adjust to any amount of light. 

Planting Guidelines

Before digging a hole in the bedding soil, pull the plant from its container.

Gently untangle and break up the roots.

The roots should hang freely from the plant so they can grow underneath the soil without restraint.

Once you see the size of the roots, dig a hole in the soil that is large enough to contain the entire root structure.

Place the plant in the hole, and cover the roots in the same way they were covered in the container.

Pack the soil firmly around the root structure.

Some people prefer to place several plants in one hole.

The success of this method depends on how fertile the soil is.

Introducing two or three plants to one spot may result in fuller, faster growth.

If one plant dies and the others survive, you will not have a gap in your plant bed.

Regardless of how many plants you choose to place in one hole, you will need to lay two or three inches of organic mulch around them.

This will keep the soil cool and moist, and it will inhibit the growth of weeds.

Providing Water

Certain annual plants can grow in dry soil, but most varieties need some amount of water.

Immediately after you plant your annuals, water them so they remain moistened as new growth occurs.

You will need to frequently water your annuals, and the amount needed depends on which species you planted.

Generally, lightly watering the plants frequently is not as effective as sporadic deep watering. 

Watering your annuals with a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler allows water to penetrate the soil without collecting anywhere else.

If you have pavers surrounding the plant bed, using a soaker hose will prevent fungus from forming on the stones.

You can use a sprinkler, but do so early in the day so the excess water dries by nighttime.

When using a soaker hose, check the soil approximately every 30 minutes.

Push your finger several inches into the soil, and discontinue watering if the soil is soaked at the four inch level. 

Continuing Care

Your annuals will need to be fertilized twice within the growing period.

You should apply the first treatment approximately six weeks after you plant.

The second application should be done six weeks later.

Fertilize the soil when it is moist, and avoid spreading the fertilizer on the leaves or flowers.

Be sure to carefully weed around your plants, and remove any dead flower heads to stimulate proper growth.

This will allow your plants to blossom for a longer period of time, and it will increase the number of blooms as well.

Properly planting your annuals is the best way to ensure healthy growth.

The aftercare is important as well, but if you give your plants a good foundation, nature will take its course.

If you would like more information on how to care for your annual plants and flowers, contact Install It Direct.

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