Plants are categorized by the duration of their life cycles. The categories for plant life cycles are annuals, perennials and biennials. Perennials and biennials will bloom for more than one season. Although annuals bloom for only one season, they add desirable colors and fragrances to gardens and flower beds.
Plants go through a life cycle that begins with growth, proceeds to flowering, goes on to seed-dropping, and ends with the death of the plant. Annual plants complete this life cycle within one growing season. While they will not return the following spring, annuals may drop viable seeds that will grow into new plants.
Annuals often provide bright showy blooms and the flowers tend to last from spring until the first frost. Although they will have to be replanted each season, the length of bloom time makes annual plants a garden favorite. To keep annuals blooming, remove spent flowers before they begin to produce seeds. This will encourage the plant bloom again rather than complete its cycle by dying.
A number of annual flowers are grown in the home garden. Begonias are an annual flower that reach 16 inches tall at most and bloom in shades of white and red. Mexican heather is a short-cropped annual that blooms tiny flowers in white or lavender. Impatiens offer color variety with showy blooms in shades of red, white, purple, and pink. Impatiens grow in mounds typically no taller that 12 inches. Zinnias are a tall annual with colorful blooms and stems reaching a height of up to three feet.
Some common herb garden favorites such as basil, salvia and rosemary are also annual plants.
Plant annuals in gardens and flower beds once the threat of frost and cold temperatures has passed. Water plants well while they are establishing themselves in the new environment. Apply a “starter fertilizer” with a high level of phosphorous to get annuals off to a good start.
Consider using an irrigation system or sprinklers to water annual beds. Watering with a hand-held hose is often ineffective at delivering a proper amount of evenly distributed water to plants' roots.
Pull any weeds that crop up around the plants and mulch heavily to keep the bed free from invasive weeds.