How to Care for Annual Flowers

Overview

Annuals are plants that sprout from seeds, flower and create seed, and then die after a single growing season (see reference 2). Versatile and inexpensive, these plants produce an abundance of flowers during the growing season, providing more color and interest to a garden space than almost any other type of plant. With a little care, you can enjoy the beauty of annual flowers all season long.

Step 1

Water the annuals regularly. Although certain varieties, including portulaca, creeping zinnia and globe amaranths, will tolerate periods of drought, most annuals require 1 inch of water a week when flowering to maintain their beauty (see reference 1). Wet the flower bed well, though not so much that it becomes soggy or muddy. Allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings (see reference 1).

Step 2

Pull out any surrounding weeds. Weeds compete with your annual flowers for water, food and sunlight. Since no single herbicide can safely be used on all flowers, the best way to remove the invading weeds is to pull them out by hand (see reference 1).

Step 3

Mulch the flower beds. Adding a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch made from wood bark, pine needles, wheat straw, hay or other organic materials will help the soil maintain moisture during periods of hot, dry weather and aid in suppressing the growth of troublesome weeds (see reference 2).

Step 4

Fertilize the flowers. Apply water-soluble fertilizer once every two weeks, or add applications of a quick-release fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at a rate of one pound per 100 square feet every four to eight weeks during the warm growing season (see reference 1).

Step 5

Remove dead flowers and seed pods with handheld pruning shears as needed. Weekly pruning and deadheading increases flower production in most types of annual flowers (see reference 1).

Step 6

Stake flowers when necessary. Some tall annuals, like celome, cosmos and larkspur, require extra support to prevent them from falling over while flowering (see reference 1). Insert a wooden stake or wire support in the soil near the annual while it is small, then loosely tie the stem to the stake or support with plastic covered wire or string as the plant grows.

Tips and Warnings

  • Too much nitrogen fertilizer can stunt plant growth and prevent some annuals from flowering (see reference 1). Excessive nitrogen can also make your annuals more susceptible to aphids and other common sucking pests (see reference 2). Do not overfertilize.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Organic mulch
  • Water soluble or quick-release fertilizer
  • Handheld pruning shears

References

  • NC State University: Annual Flowers: Maintenance
  • Cornell University: How to Grow Annuals

Who Can Help

  • Flower Bed: Annuals
Keywords: annual flower care, annual plants, care annuals

About this Author

Barbara Biehler is a freelance writer who has written articles for GardenGuides.com and eHow, as well as online specialty courses for MyComputerBuddies.com. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Central Florida, and over 15 years experience in business development, sales, and marketing. An avid gardener, cook, and voracious reader, Barbara resides with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.