By Geri Laufer
For a long season of brilliant color, add annuals to your home landscape
Want head-turning curb appeal? Use color! Bedding plants (aka annuals) are plants that flower more or less continuously for a single season then die. Half-hardy or tender perennials (like begonias, impatiens, or geraniums) are also used to add color and are considered annual because they are killed by frost if left outdoors when winter arrives.
- Flowering annuals have many uses in the landscape, since few other plants supply as much diversity. Annuals are . . .
- most commonly used in color beds
- added to mixed borders
- good for providing backgrounds and quick screens when tall
- vines that can be used to cover trellises, screen neighbors, provide shade, and soften harsh fencing
- used as temporary ground covers
- cut for flowers in vases or sales
- dried for arrangements or potpourri
- great for containers (especially trailing annuals) like large mixed pots, window boxes, or hanging baskets
- available to provide temporary color and mass before the installation of permanent shrubs or ground
10 Easy-Care Annuals
Easy to grow, annuals thrive in prepared beds with improved soil. Before planting, mix in a bag of soil conditioner or planting topsoil with your Georgia red clay! Many annuals are greedy feeders and appreciate some liquid (houseplant) fertilizer every month. Deadheading (pinching off dead blooms) stimulates more flowers to form, continuing the color. If you planted annuals in May, they are now ready to be cut back—by half; then water, feed, and watch them come roaring back with more color through fall.
- Summer Annuals
- Coleus – colorful leaves all summer until frost, flowers are irrelevant
- Marigold – you probably planted these when you were in the first grade and they still look great in sun
- Pentas – five-petaled blooms cover smaller sized plants
- Sunflower – a plethora of varieties gives lots of choice, whether 12-foot mammoth or short and bushy for cut flowers
- Vinca – so tough it even grows in Florida sand
- Zinnia – colorful favorites, the butterflies are drawn to them and they often reseed next year
- Cool Season Annuals
- Pansy/Viola – most popular winter-flowering annual
- Flowering cabbage – leaves provide the color thus eliminating the need for flowers
- Snapdragon – blooms fall and spring, with a little time off in mid-winter
- Dianthus – be sure to scissor off spent flowers so pinks will rebloom
- Dusty miller – silver foliage makes exceptional contrast and interest winter or summer
There’s plenty of time to plant some annuals in July, and then stand back for the colorful display in August, September, on into October.
You may want to investigate some UGA publications for further reading:
Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens You can download the publication as a pdf, or peruse the links, including “Annuals for Specific Uses.”
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Geri Laufer lives in Atlanta, where she, graphic designer husband David, and English Coonhound Lily are working on designing and installing a never-finished landscape. You can reach her at Geri Laufer