Care of Annual Garden Plants

Overview

Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season. Because annuals are so short-lived, it is important to pay attention to their care and maintenance requirements. The labels that accompany annuals include the light requirement, height, spacing, blooming period and feeding recommendations for each plant. If you put the right plants in the right place and take care of their basic needs, you'll be rewarded with colorful flowers all season long.

Care and Maintenance

Step 1

Plant annuals in soil that has plenty of organic matter worked into it and drains well. Sun-loving annuals need six hours of sun daily. Shade-tolerant plants can get by with four to six hours of daily sun.

Step 2

Apply a balanced fertilizer directly after planting and then monthly throughout the growing season. Follow label directions. Keep fertilizer from touching the flowers and foliage as it can burn the plant. Water well after applying fertilizer.

Step 3

Water plants well after planting. Continue to provide one inch of water per week throughout the growing season. Water early in the day, especially if using a sprinkler, so plants can dry out before evening. A soaker hose wets only the soil and is very helpful in preventing fungal and bacterial diseases that thrive when foliage is damp.

Step 4

Apply a light layer of mulch after planting, while the soil is still moist. Mulch helps to suppress weeds and conserve water. Compost, sphagnum peat moss or fine hardwood bark chips are all effective choices for mulch.

Step 5

Weed your annual garden weekly. Weeds compete with annuals for nourishment, light, and moisture. Remove yellow or damaged foliage, as pests tend to attack a plant's weak areas.

Step 6

Remove faded flowers throughout the growing season. Deadheading spent blooms stimulates the plant to produce more flowers rather expending energy to produce seeds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't overfeed your annuals. Applying too much fertilizer will result in weaker growth and sparser blooms.

Things You'll Need

  • Bedding plants from nursery or garden center
  • Trowel
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Sprinkler or soaker hose
  • Mulch

References

  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service; Growing Annual Flowers; Michael N. Dana; June 1999
  • AHS Garden Plants and Flowers; Ian Spence; 2004
Keywords: annuals, plant care, annual gardens

About this Author

Deborah Hall is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon. She has written for numerous publications on a variety of topics, including educational trends and sustainable gardening practices. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in English.