Amazing Garden Colour is Easy
Using Annual Flowers

annual flowers

What’s An Annual?
Petunias, Impatiens, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Lobelia and in most parts of the country, Geraniums are all annual flowers. Now we included Geraniums Pelargonium spp here to help with our definition because botanically they are not annuals. Gardeners see flowers as annuals, if they have to plant new ones every year. Botanically, annuals are plants that complete their life cycle from seed back to seed in one growing season.

That’s why it is instructive to include Geraniums in this discussion because gardeners in the temperate parts of the world grow them as annuals although they will grow for several years in a climate without freezing temperatures.

Where Do We Get Them?
Lets move on and look at the vast majority of annuals such as the Impatiens and Marigolds. We buy these as packets of seed that we can start in our basements and cold frames. They are everywhere in the spring as started plants that we can transplant directly into our gardens. Hundreds of varieties and colours are available, making choosing a very difficult task.

petunias Why Would We Grow Them?
Why do we grow annual flowers; planting new ones every year, when even the newest gardener is vaguely aware of the huge range of perennial flowers; plant them once and they are good for life. That’s a significant exaggeration and we will explore that in the pages on perennials. The basic difference that makes us choose annuals over perennials is the bloom period. Annuals will give a colourful show of flowers all season long while most perennials have a two to three week bloom period. If you want a continuous, bright, colourful show in your garden all summer and fall then choose your colour and height and there is an annual flower ready to provide it.

impatiens,  containers

Where Would We Grow Them?
You should also notice whether this garden is in the sun or the shade before choosing your annuals. There are several choices for both conditions but making the wrong choice can be disastrous. Annual flowers are magnificent in containers of every type and that is where most of mine have been planted for several years. This does not limit my choice very much except for size.

How Big Do They Get?
It is a bit difficult to grow many sunflowers in containers. I just stick them in odd spots between the vegetables and perennials. They are one of the few annuals where a single plant can add some dramatic impact. There are a few others such as Morning Glories that make significant statements as single plants or in a very small group.


How Much Work Is There?
Filling larger beds with annual flowers can be very dramatic and somewhat low maintenance if you are not an avid gardener. A couple of weekends in the spring preparing and planting and you can have a strong display of colour all season. Add a little mulch between the flowers and the need for watering and weeding will be greatly reduced. If you want to be more involved with your garden and you want to watch it change and evolve over the growing season then you may want to investigate the wide choice of perennial flowers. If you just want the landscaping to look colourful and attractive as you come and go from your golf game then take the few hours to fill it up with one of the myriad of bright cheerful annual flowers.

container planting I Need Something Different!
There is a huge plant breeding industry busily developing new varieties of annual flowers every year. We will make some attempt to keep you up to date on what is new and what is good and try to note when they are not the same thing.

The best of the new flower and vegetable varieties are selected as All America Award Winners. Follow the link to see the 2009 winners.

Here are some of the other interesting annual flowers that I have grown for a variety of reasons.

Sweet Peas are an interesting crop. Grown mostly as a cut flower, they need trellises to scramble up except for a couple of dwarf varieties that can be used as
container subjects.

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