Annual flower gardens represent one of the most beautiful accents to the home landscape. These gardens flower continually from the final frost of spring to the first frost in the fall. Annual gardens feature plants that live only for a single season. Nurseries produce abundant plants for purchase to provide instant color to your home garden. Annuals come in varieties that tolerate full sun to shade.
All flower gardens feature a measure of sunlight that dictates the type of plants for that garden. Certain types of annuals require different amounts of sunlight. Full-sun annuals tolerate the hot sun for six to eight hours each day. Partial-sun annuals need four to six hours of sun and partial shade plants require two to four hours or dappled light beneath a tree canopy. Shade annuals tolerate low light conditions and generally receive little direct sun all day. Annual plants exist to match each different light requirement. Always check the labels on plants purchased from the nursery to determine the best planting environment.
Annuals rarely can tolerate dry or poorly drained soil conditions. These plants prefer well-drained soil containing abundant organic material. Organic material improves drainage and promotes healthy root growth by providing essential nutrients in the soil. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch will improve water retention in the soil and cool soil temperatures to protect tender annual roots.
Annuals work extremely well as border plants or in gardens around the base of trees. Annuals have very short roots and won't steal soil nutrients from surrounding plants. However, make sure to add some organic matter to the annual garden to promote healthy foliage and blooms. Annuals perform well when placed in clumps of three to five plants to add color to the perennial garden. Choose a wide variety of blooms colors for riotous color or select two to three colors to create a more sedate addition to your annual garden.
Annuals don't throw deep roots and as a result have a tough time competing with weeds in the flower garden. Monitor weed growth continually in the annual flower garden and remove weeds before they reach 3 inches. Weeds will smother annual roots, grab soil nutrients and hog water reserves in the soil. Annual plants can be expensive when purchased en masse, so protect this investment with vigilant weed removal.
Annuals don't require deep planting and in fact prefer to be planted identical depths to those found in their former container home. Loosen soil with a cultivator around the planting area to encourage root expansion and tuck the plant gently into the soil. Annuals benefit from loosening of the soil around the root ball since many plants become root-bound while at the nursery. Annuals cannot tolerate any frost and should be planted after any danger of frost has passed. Don't water the foliage after transplanting. Water the base of each plant around the stem to allow water to seep around the annual plant roots.