Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to have Outstanding Annual Flowers

Perennials are flowers that come back every year.  Annuals are planted once and die back when the weather changes.  In our area it is usually best to plant summer annuals right after Easter and your winter annuals around Thanksgiving.  Do you ever notice a local business, beautiful estate or apartment complex with absolutely beautiful flowers out front?  Well they are installed by professionals - but there is no reason you can't do the same quality work yourself with just a few simple tips.....
Photo of nicely landscaped entry with flowers by Backyard-Creations , a landscaping company in the Dallas, Texas area.

The following are good tips on how to have a beautiful flower bed with annuals:
  • Step one is to do a real good job of making the soil right for planting annuals.  This is by far the most important step - and also the step in which I see people take the most shortcuts.  Do NOT skip this step if you really want beautiful flowers.  The soil should be tilled, amended with compost, peat moss and I really like to use a lot of coarse vermiculite.  The best beds will be 8" deep.  If you can easily dig the planting holes for your flowers with your hands, and use no tools, you probably have prepared the soil correctly.  Mixing in your initial fertilizer with the soil is not a bad idea either.  Raised beds work well.  Buying a planting mix at your nursery is also acceptable. The good news is that if you do this correctly the first time, subsequent plantings will be much easier.
  • Plant selection and spacing:
    • Try to get larger annuals.  We like the 6" pots.  We're only going to have these plants 6 months.  Might as well start off a little bigger.
    • Get the best plants for your location.  Read the label.  If you have a shady area - get shade loving plants.
    • Try NOT to get too much of a variety.  Sometimes less is more.
    • Pay attention to the size they will get and space accordingly.  Larger plants to the rear please.
  • Fertilize.  I like liquid (or water soluble) because it works quicker.  It also goes away quicker.  As a general rule if you use liquid you need to fertilize every 2-3 weeks.  Granular every 4-6 weeks. To get the most prolific flowers on your annuals you need lots of phosphorus. That is the middle number in the analysis (10-20-10). Phosphorus is good for strong roots and disease resistance as well as enhancing your blooms.
  • Water!  In contrast to my irrigation advice for everything else (Water more, but less often)... with annuals you can water every day.  Do water at least a minimum of 3 days a week.  It is much better if you can do this in the mornings.
If this seems like too much work, you can always hire us.  If you have success doing it yourself, please email me a picture  :)


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