|The best thing about annuals is that they demand little care, they tend to grow well in less than perfect soil, and they need good light, a little water and space to growóitís that simple, almost. The best idea to start out your annuals is to plan.
Basically pH stands for ďpondus hydrogeniiĒ and in laymanís terms means, possible hydrogen. Many plants prefer acid or alkaline soil conditions but itís important to know the pH level in your soil because some plant diseases tend to flourish in alkaline or acidic soil, knowing your levels with help determine what plant varieties are best in your yard.
You should be able to grow most annuals if your soil pH is between 6.0 to 7.5 and to alter the pH levels, usually lime for acidic soil or aluminum sulfate for alkaline soil is all you need. Garden supply centers have pH test kits for less than ten bucks that will give you the information you need, some even come with a list of plants that will grow according to the results of the pH levels in your soil as is.
Climate & Soil Considerations
If you live in an area that is dry, wet or a place that tends to be hot and water conservation is a must then take those conditions into consideration before you choose your plants. Some annuals do better in dryer soil than those that grow well in moist conditions and there are some annuals that are drought resistant.
Choosing where to plant your annuals is easy taking the climate and the needs of your annuals into consideration. Because annuals tend to be of lower maintenance, you can choose to plant them in locations further away from your home like beside your mailbox, entering your drive way, the edge of your yard or near your home Ö where ever you want to plant them.
If you live in dryer climates and watering may be needed a bit more often then do take your source of watering into thought. If you choose to plant a few then youíll probably be able to water them with a bucket but if youíve planted a large area filled with flowers, planting close to a water source should be your goal.
Itís best to plant annuals later in the afternoon, after all the danger of frost has passed although some hardy annuals can be planted in the autumn season that will weather winter just fine, others hardy annuals are best planted pre-spring and half hardy annuals should be planted a few weeks later further into the spring season.
Most annuals are classified in this way (hardy & half hardy) and some garden centers offer a free list of annuals to choose from or ask your garden center while selecting what plants are best to plant at the time of year youíre choosing.
Donít forget to consider the sun factor, most annuals love 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight, others part shade and a few in complete shade. Know the areas of your yard and which areas will suit the annuals you have chosen.
Itís best to water your plants while theyíre in the pots as well as the soil in the area where you plan to plant first. Then gently remove the flowers from the pots as not to disturb the roots if possible, if the flowers are in peat pots just place tears around the pots to make it easier for the plants to root in their new home. If the roots seem to be compacted a bit, gently loosen them to help them along.
How to Plant
Dig a hole in the soil that is just a tad bit larger than the root ball, place the plant in the hole but be sure that youíre only planting the roots and not part of the plant above the roots. Itís best plant them at the same depth as the pots they were in.
Follow the directions that come with the annuals for plant spacing to make sure your plants have just enough room to flower and grow. Also take into account the look you desire, if you want the flowers to appear grouped then plant them slightly closer or if you want more space between plants then plant as planned.
After youíve planted give your annuals water them once more in their new home, planting is very important for your flowers and giving them ample water, room and an area of sunlight suggested for them will mean they will root faster, providing beauty soon.
If you live in an area that has to conserve water regularly then choose plants that are drought tolerant. Deep watering to encourage the roots is best and trying not to wet the leaves, especially if watering in the afternoon, because the water on the leaves left overnight can leave your annuals wide open for disease.
Itís best to water early in the day and annuals need an inch of water a week, if itís unseasonably hotter than usual then you may have to provide a little more to keep them healthy.
If you live in hot, dryer climates mulching will be not only an attractive addition but also one that will help your plants stay healthier by keeping the water in the soil longer. Using organic mulches like bark chips, shredded leaves or peat moss is great and will also help to control weeds.
The best result of mulching is that it naturally improves the soil! Incorporating the old mulch into the soil year after year and adding new mulch will drastically help improve the soil.
Some people choose to prune, some not. Pruning your flowers simply mean removing the faded blooms that have outlasted their flowering to make rooms for more blooms. New blooms can be encouraged in different areas of the plant and for a bushier appeal, simply pinch the tops.
Weeding is important and mulching will largely reduce weeds but a few may still seep through. Weeds are a playground for insects and disease, plus they rob moisture and nutrients from the soil that your flowers should be getting.
Be careful when weeding because some weeds will grow almost directly on top of the plant roots, removing them gently paying attention to the origins of growth is highly necessary. Practicing weekly weeding will reduce the amount of weeds in your garden and help protect your plants!
Each time you walk outdoors youíll feast on the beauty youíve created, visitors will comment on your lovely garden and flowers relax us all. Youíre home will be a much more beautiful place and when the seasons warm up, most of us enjoy the outdoors more.
Your annuals will bloom all season long and the more you learn about the environment to help you plants along, the longer youíll enjoy them!