Walking among the racks of annual flowers at the nursery can be overwhelming. So many colors, types and varieties present quite a challenge for the novice gardener. Learning how to buy annual flowers begins with understanding the purpose annual flowers serve in the landscape, and determining the healthiest plants to buy from the garden center. Annual flower buying also involves choosing the best plants for the planting site to eliminate wasted money and effort.
Determine the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone for your area. The designation gives the lowest temperatures that the average hardy plant can tolerate for survival. If you don't have this designation, shop for annuals at a garden center close to your home. Most nurseries only carry plants that will thrive in the local climate conditions.
Select a location that receives six or more hours of daily sunlight. Partial sun features four to six hours, while partial-shade areas experience two to four hours of sunlight daily. Full-shade locations have no direct light, but may have filtered or reflected sun exposure. Deep-shade plants require no direct sunlight.
Decide on a color scheme for your annual garden. Pick a few colors that complement the home's exterior. Annual plants should accent existing shrubs, trees and perennial flowers. Annuals provide summer-long color so a wild display of many varieties and colors doesn't create a relaxed, natural appearance to the landscape.
Examine plant labels to make accurate choices for different locations. Look at sunlight requirements, soil needs, watering requirements, and spacing to decide which plants will suit your landscape and budget.
Price each annual plant carefully. Visit the garden center with a firm landscape plan in mind. Purchasing individual annual plants can cost a tremendous amount of money. Check into bulk purchases for large garden areas. Many nurseries provide a discount when purchasing a flat of annuals. Flats contain anywhere from 9 to 18 annual bedding plants. Many nurseries allow gardeners to mix and match annuals of the same cost to create a full flat.
Select plants with healthy foliage and flower buds. Avoid those plants with dying foliage, yellow leaves, dead flowers or obvious broken stems, according to University of Florida Extension. Don't buy plants that appear leggy with extended stems and sparse leaves. Leggy annual plants often indicate lack of watering and fertilizing.
Make your purchases and plant your annual flowers within 24 hours for optimum plant health.