Fun with Summer Annuals!

Nothing says summer like a garden filled with bright colorful flowers. So when the spring color show begins to fade and the threat of Jack Frost visiting the garden has passed, it’s time to have some fun and plug in the summer color with these popular single-season plants.

There are annuals that are sun lovers and annuals that prefer the shadier side of the garden. Don’t worry — there’s a palette of plants to choose from for either situation. When choosing your plants in the greenhouse, pay special attention to the amount of sunlight they will receive where you plant them.

Annuals that require full sun will need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight on their foliage each day, while part-sun plants would like 4-6 hours of sun daily. Those shade-loving plants will manage with dappled light through the leaves of trees, or less than 4 hours of sunlight daily. Note: partial & full-shade plants in Colorado must be protected from mid-day through mid-afternoon sun.

Sun loving annuals include African Daisy, geraniums, petunias, calibrachoa, and bacopa. Shade loving annuals include impatiens, begonia, lobelia, vinca vine, fuchsia, and many more. There’s no shortage of choices for these single-season plants.

Think about the final height and width of the plants in your plan. Pay attention to the recommended spacing between the plants. This will help to avoid overcrowding as the plants grow, which can encourage pest and disease problems.

When choosing colors, consider the time of day you will enjoy your flower garden. Red tends to dull at twilight, while white or silver foliage will give a nice glow to your gardens in the evening.

Remember to harden your plants off gradually before putting them out into the sunny garden all day. What does it mean to harden a plant off? It means to gradually expose a plant to the elements outdoors. Plants coming from the protected environment of a greenhouse need to get accustomed to drier air, brighter sunshine, and wind.

If they are set out suddenly, the change can damage them permanently. We recommend that you set them in a semi-protected area for a few days where they will get some exposure to the elements. Then, when they have been toughened somewhat, you can plant them into a fully-exposed site.

Annuals are pretty prolific bloomers, but they need a little maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Fertilize them regularly with a blossom booster formulation. This is particularly important with annuals that are planted in containers, since container plantings are watered more often. This flushes out nutrients in the potting soil that will need to be replaced. Feed with Jack’s Blossom Booster fertilizer every couple of weeks to maintain the summer color show. 

For in-ground annuals, mix flower fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Reapply as needed following directions on the package or use Blossom Booster regularly during the season.

Pinch your annuals back if they become leggy. You will lose a few flowers for a while, but be rewarded with many more later in the season. For some annuals deadheading (pinching off old flowers as they fade) will keep the beds looking beautiful and encourage more flowers. Most of the new varieties of annuals have so much flower power bred into them that they will continue to flower through the season with minimal maintenance. Calibrachoa is a good example.

Go ahead and get creative with your landscape this summer! Have some fun with your plant selections and design layout. Since annuals only last for one growing season, they make it easy to experiment with bright hues, textures, and forms. Whatever your style, mood, or color preference, you can easily create a garden that is uniquely “you” with the abundance of different annuals available.