Planning Your Annuals

Now that spring has officially arrived in Ohio, there is no better time to begin prepping your garden. Planting annuals can be the perfect way to bring in some color and add beauty to your landscape. But do you know which annual is right for you? At Kurtz Bros, we are proud to offer a wide selection of annuals as well as the expertise of our Head of Nursery. We’ve also got you covered with some ideas to best prepare and care for your annuals.

What should I look for in an annual?

An annual flower is one that completes its life cycle within one growing season. This provides the unique opportunity to add something new to your garden each year. When determining what to look for in an annual, you first need to do a little mapping of your own landscape. Consider the following questions:

  • What colors do you want to see in your garden? Are you thinking about bright colors? Maybe you are leaning toward pastels? You should have an idea of your color preferences when you go to purchase your annuals. This is the time to create some artwork in your garden. Choosing annuals with bright, vivid colors will make your landscape a show stopper!  
  • What types of plants do you think will compliment your home? Because annuals come in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures, be sure to do a little research and determine what will look best in your garden. Do you want plants that grow vertically? Or maybe you have a lot of garden space to fill and you want plants that grow outward? Our Head of Nursery can definitely help answer some of these questions! 
  • What are the light conditions of your yard? Based on your location, determine the amount of sun or shade that will be provided. Many annuals require direct sunlight while others thrive in the shade. The light conditions of your yard are very important when deciding which annuals will best fit within your landscape. 
  • Which annuals are ideal for spring? Because the spring season often brings cooler days, be sure to choose an annual that is safe and hardy enough for spring. Some ideal spring annuals are:
    • Osteospermum (African Daisy)
    • Sweet Alyssum
    • Pansy
    • Snapdragon
    • Dusty Miller 
    • Petunia

Once you have nailed some of these details down, you are ready to head to our Nursery and check out our beautiful selection of annuals. 

How do I prepare my yard and plant my annuals?

After you have made your selections for annuals, the preparation can begin! 

As we all know, living in Ohio brings about unpredictable weather. Wait until the final frost before beginning your planting. Mid-April is usually a safe time to begin. 

Prepping the soil comes first. For your annual flowers to flourish, you want to properly prepare your soil. You may plant directly into the topsoil, or you can purchase heavier soil to help hold in moisture. Heavy clay products contain organic matter that can be beneficial for your soil. Compost, sweet peet, and peat moss are also great products to consider. Adding a layer of mulch on top of your soil will help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and aid with weed suppression as well. 

If you are choosing to plant in a container instead, you want to purchase a pot with a hole in the bottom. First, fill your pot with a little bit of pebble-like material, and then add your soil. 

Before actually planting your annuals, it is advised to lay them all out first so you can outline your landscape. Next comes the actual planting! 

According to the article “How to Plan an Annual Flower Bed,” it is advised to follow the “Thriller, filler, spiller” method when planting annuals. 

“When we plan our annual beds and pots, we follow the ‘Thriller, filler, spiller’ method. The thriller tall plant placed in the center — the focal point of the bed or pot. The filler is used around the thriller to create a nice robust-looking flower bed or pot. The spiller, especially in a pot, is placed lower to the ground so that it can ‘spill’ over the side of the pot or the edge of the bed.”

When it comes to planting, follow the “Thriller, filler, spiller” method as best you can. Just remember not to plant anything too deep into the ground or you will run the risk of stem rot. Cover your soil with a thin layer of mulch (maybe 1-2 inches) once all of your annuals have been planted, and then give those plants a good watering. Additionally, keep in mind that planting on a cloudy day is best if possible! An overcast sky will provide for a smoother transition for the annuals, which will result in longer-lasting blooms.   

How do I care for my annuals throughout the season?

Once your annuals have been mapped out and planted, keeping them healthy and thriving will be your next priority. 

It takes a lot of the plant’s energy to keep producing flowers and keep a deep green color during the season. Purchasing an annual fertilizer will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to maintaining healthy and beautiful flowers. Fertilizer, as well as supplemental watering during stress periods, can go a long way towards keeping your annuals looking great for the entire season. 

It can be difficult to remember which plants need daily watering versus the ones that need weekly or biweekly watering. Be sure to make a list of the annuals you purchased and add a note about their watering needs to help you keep it all straight. 

Additionally, hand-pulling weeds or spot-treating weeds throughout the season is a must. Weeds can be detrimental to your annuals, so be sure to check for new weeds with every watering. 

What do I do with my annual at the end of the season?

Because annuals only last for one season, it is important to do a little clean-up as the cold weather approaches. 

You may begin to remove your annuals during the fall, or if you prefer, you may also wait until the following spring. However, be sure to clear your planting beds of any weeds, fallen branches, leaves, and other debris before the harsh winter hits. Keep your space as clean as possible until the following planting season. 

After following these steps for preparation, be sure to visit our Nursery for your one-stop shop to create your beautiful garden! 

Take a look at our previous blogs – Landscape Planning 101 – Part 1 and Landscape Planning 101 – Part 2 – for more information and guidance regarding preparing your garden for spring! 

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