Annual Aftercare

Most annuals are easy to grow and require relatively little maintenance to keep them looking great. After planting, the primary activities include feeding, watering, mulching, and deadheading.

Most annuals perform best when grown in fertile soils. Mulching the flower beds with compost each year often supplies an ample supply of nutrients. In beds covered with bark mulches or those with infertile soils, it is recommended to fertilize once or twice per year with a general purpose fertilizer. When applied at planting, slow release sources of nitrogen can often supply adequate nutrients for the entire growing season.

Annuals with a general yellow coloration often indicate that there is a shortage of nutrients available for the roots to uptake. If the plants appear yellow, it may be beneficial to side-dress them with a granular fertilizer or make applications using liquid fertilizers. Applying too much fertilizer causes many annuals to grow too quickly and may decrease the number of flowers produced.

For optimum growth, it is recommended annuals receive approximately 1 inch of water per week either by rainfall or through irrigation systems. When providing irrigation, it is important to thoroughly soak the soil and not just wet the surface. To prevent foliar diseases, avoid applying water to the foliage and flowers. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems work well for this in many scenarios. If irrigation is applied using sprinklers, run them in the early morning to allow the foliage to dry quickly in the sun.

Mulches consisting of numerous organic materials, such as shredded leaves, bark chips, and compost, are commonly applied around annuals to help retain moisture in the soil, decrease the emergence of weeds, and to add organic materials to the soil as they break down. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around the plantings in the late spring, leaving about a one inch radius around the stem of each plant that does not have any mulch applied.

Many annuals benefit from deadheading or removing faded flowers and dead flower heads. This practice keeps the garden looking nice and encourages many annuals to continue blooming for an extended period. Removing the faded flowers allows the plant to put its energy into making new flowers rather then making seeds. Not only does this practice promote more flowers, it creates a longer blooming period.

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