You’ve gotten the itch to plant a few flowers this year. Every time you go to the home improvement store, or just about any store, you are assaulted with pot after pot of flowers in all kinds of colors and styles. If not the actual flowers, you see picture after picture of bright beautiful flowers. So you decide to pick up a few pots of flowers to take home and stick in the ground. What kind of flowers did you get? More than likely, you picked up annuals.
So just what are annuals and what should you do with them? Basically an annual is a plant that goes from seed to flower and back to seed in one year. Somewhere, someone planted seeds in that pot you bought and waited for the plant to grow and start blooming before you saw it in the store. After the growing and blooming season is over, usually in the fall when it starts cooling off, your plants will set seed so the whole process can start all over. (Just be aware that some hybrid flowers don’t set seed. That’s to keep you from being surprised if no seeds appear.)
Now what you should do with them depends a lot on why you bought them. Do you already have foundation plantings of trees and shrubs and just want to spice up under them with some bright colors? That, by the way, is one good way to think of annuals – as a spice you add to accent your landscaping much the same way you add spice to accent a food.
If that is what you want, to add some color to your basic green landscaping around your home, then annuals are great for that. Another benefit to using them this way is that if you don’t like the colors you got this year, next year you can try a totally different color palette. Suppose you bought blue and white colored annuals and after living with them this summer, you decide they just didn’t add enough pizzaz! to your garden or yard. Next year try some of those reds or oranges or yellows.
Why just have flowers out in the garden or yard? Bring them right up into your outside living area. Annuals can be planted in all kinds of attractive planters and pots to add some of that bright color to your deck or patio. Sometimes that is half the fun, seeing what unique and interesting planters you can come up with to highlight your display of flowers. And since some annuals have a good scent, you not only add a delight for the eyes but for the nose as well.
Let’s not leave apartment dwellers out of this. Annuals in planters or hanging baskets can be placed on a balcony to brighten up that little slice of the outdoors as well. Who says you can’t have a garden if you live in an apartment? Visit a nursery where they build hanging baskets or get your fingers dirty and make your own.
Copyright 2006, Sandra Dinkins-Wilson
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