15 gorgeous flowering annuals to brighten your garden
Flowering annuals hold a special place in my heart, particularly because I associate them with my loved ones: the carnations that grew near the back door of my great grandparents’ house, the alyssum that grew in my grandparents’ garden and the profusion of pansies, sweet peas, stocks, primulas and snapdragons that continue create a riot of colour all around my parents’ home.
But petunias are my all time favourite. Their shape, colours and they way they spill across a garden bed or down the sides of a pot is a sight that means summer. Unfortunately my husband thinks flowering annuals are a waste of money because, surprise surprise, you have to keep buying them every year. (Needless to say I rarely receive a bunch of flowers!) But I refuse to go without my fix of garden colour, so I usually manage a few pots around the place. I also still have my childhood plot at mum and dad’s house.
If like me, you need your fix of summer colour, now is the time to get planting. Modern annuals have been bred for improved colour ranges, flower variation and disease resistance. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure your plants give you plentiful blooms to enjoy throughout the coming months.
Soil and position
If you plan to plant into garden beds you need well drained good quality soil. This can be helped along by adding old organic matter (mushroom compost, old manure or compost) to the soil before planting.
Most annuals like the sun, although bedding begonias, coleus, foxgloves, impatiens, honesty, primulas, polyanthus, cinerarias, violas and pansies can tolerate a little bit of shade.
Fertiliser and pH
Add some complete fertiliser to the soil before planting and feed the young plants with liquid fertiliser to encourage good growth.
Time is of the essence
If you plant too early or too late, your annuals will reach maturity during unsuitable weather conditions. You’ll still get flowers, but you won’t get the best possible results.
There are no hard and fast rules here, but unless you’re particularly artistic (or oozing with self-confidence) it’s probably a good idea to stick with colours that complement each other. We have several garden “rooms” at our house. There’s the “blue garden” – a cottage style courtyard planted with hebes, buddleias, willmot blue, lavender and rosemary, walled in by towering Syrian hibiscus. The back of the yard is a rose garden with several beds each devoted to different type of red and entered through a litch gate covered in the David Austen “Tess of the D’Ubervilles”. The “white garden” in the front yard has standard iceberg roses underplanted with snowbells. The effect is simple but effective, was easy to achieve and allowed each of us a choice of colours without clashing.
Seeds or Seedlings?
It’s a matter of personal choice as well as how much time and talent you have. Seeds take longer and need more initial care, but are cheaper to buy.
Sap sucking insects love annuals and include aphids and thrips. The best you can do is try to stay on top of them with regular sprays of insecticide. Chewing insects include caterpillars and earwigs and can be controlled with pyrethrum.
Fungal diseases develop from spores that land on plants and can be controlled with fungicides.
15 flowers to consider:
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet William