How to Plant Annual Flowers Outside


A tailored landscape includes a mixture of trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and annual bedding plants. Annuals work perfectly to fill in the gaps in a landscape. Splashes of color spice up the garden between the blooming periods of shrubs and perennial flowers. Planting annual flowers outside requires preparation of each location to provide the best possible chance for plant survival.

Step 1

Prepare the planting locations by digging or cultivating the soil to an 8-inch depth. Cultivation loosens compacted soil to promote easy root spread after initial planting. Stir up a square foot of soil around each planting site when adding plants to an existing garden.

Step 2

Add organic materials to boost soil nutrients and improve drainage. Pour a layer of 2 to 3 inches of humus, compost or peat moss onto the garden surface or at the planting site. Mix the material deeply into the soil to thoroughly spread the soil amendment. Do not place a layer on the garden surface without mixing it into the soil. Organic material will capture water and limit percolation of water into the underlying soil layers.

Step 3

Choose annual plants that suit the location based on sunlight requirements. Full sun plants need at least six hours a day of direct, bright light. Partial sun annual flowers thrive with four to six hours of sun each day. Partial shade plants need two to four hours of sun, and shade plants require only indirect or reflected sunlight.

Step 4

Water each annual pot to loosen the soil in the planting container. Mix up a half-strength solution of all-purpose fertilizer in the watering can.

Step 5

Position the fiber packs or small pots of annuals in each location to get an idea of the finished garden look. Plant annuals in groups of two to three plants spaced 4 to 6 inches apart for greater visual impact. Gardeners use annuals to add patches of color to support shrubs and flowering perennials. Get a good visual of the finished product and make adjustments to suit your needs.

Step 6

Dig a hole for each plant to accommodate the amount of soil in the transplant pot. Ideal planting depth places each annual at the same depth as it was in the planting container. Fill in around the annual's roots with amended soil and firm gently.

Step 7

Water each plant with the fertilizer solution to add nutrients during the transplant adjustment period. Frequently water annuals at the soil level to encourage strong root growth. Don't sprinkle water on the leaves since evaporation removes this moisture too quickly to benefit the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Compost, humus or peat moss
  • Mulch
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Watering can
  • Garden hose


  • North Carolina State University: Starting Annuals with Transplants
  • Cornell University: How to Grow Annuals
Keywords: planting annual flowers, gardening with annuals, annual flower beds

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.