For long-lasting color that begins in spring and lasts until fall, brightly colored annuals are a good choice. Purchased in nurseries or started inside, these delightful flowers bloom profusely, filling windows boxes, hanging baskets or flowerbeds with abundant blooms. With regular deadheading and routine care, many bloom up until the frost even in zones 4 and below.
Petunias, available in a range of colors from delicate pastel pinks and whites to brilliant hues of purple, blue and red, provide cascading waves of color from spring until fall. These easy to care for plants prefer full sun, but tolerate partial shade. Water deeply once a week to moisten soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Container grown petunias may require daily watering. Some petunias require deadheading (removing spent blooms), while some varieties are self-cleaning and do not require deadheading. Fertilize with water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.
Impatiens create mounds of delicate blooms in a wide variety of colors from white and pastel pinks and oranges to bright reds and fiery orange. Ideal for window boxes, hanging baskets and as border plants, impatiens prefer partial shade and moist soil. A location that receives two hours of direct light in the morning and shelter from the sun in the afternoon provides optimum growing conditions for impatiens. Water when soil is dry and fertilize every 10 to 14 days.
Begonias produce prolifically and bloom for extended periods. These range from tiny wax begonias that produce 1-inch blooms to large fibrous begonias that produce showy clusters of blooms that may reach sizes of 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Begonias prefer shady locations and provide bright color in areas where other flowers will not bloom. Available in a wide range of colors from white to yellow, orange, salmon and red, begonias provide color to any planting. Water when soil dries and fertilize twice a month.
Dramatic geraniums add color and style to any garden bed or container. These sun-loving perennials are grown as annuals in northern climates and add punch to any display. Brilliant clusters of flowers create a showy flowerhead on a slender stalk that rises above attractive foliage of rich green or striking variegated white and green. The softly scalloped edges of the foliage provide contrast and visual interest. Water when soil is dry to the touch and provide water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
Marigolds, available in dwarf varieties that produce small 8-inch mounds to towering plants of 3 feet or more, bloom prolifically from spring until frost. These delightful plants love the summer sun and add bight color to the landscape. Colors range from pale yellows to fiery red-orange. Marigolds require little care other than weekly watering and occasional fertilizer. Deadhead spent blooms to prolong the blooming.