Horticulture Supervisor, Kyle Cheesborough
Around this time of the year, annual bedding plants really steal the show. Annual bedding plants are those that are grown with the knowledge that they will not survive winter temperatures for summer annuals or summer temperatures in the case of cool-season annuals. As things heat up, many of the summer annuals begin to explode, offering an incredible array of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. Some are grown for their foliage, like the well-known coleus, and others are grown for their striking blooms, like Angelonia, zinnia, or petunias.
Annuals can offer a tropical accent to the garden, with large, colorful leaves like the tiger-stripe canna lilies, or the big, bold leaves of elephant’s ears, or the bright, Hawaiian-shirt style blooms of a tropical hibiscus. Annual bedding plants are perfect for filling in those gaps in the garden, and given the proper amount of sunlight, water, and fertilizer, these plants will cover an empty space in no time!
Some – like bacopa, dichondra, or lantana – will creep and crawl to fill a given spot, while others – like coleus, duranta, or gomphrena – will swell to fit into an empty area. Annuals can be aggressive, like the sweet potato vine, and will quickly tangle themselves in with other garden plants. Many of our summer annual plants grow quickly, and require regular watering to maintain their full splendor, and will quickly respond to drought with wilting, shriveling, and dying foliage and flowers. Because they grow so quickly, a monthly feeding with a general purpose fertilizer will prove very helpful in producing the most healthy, long-lasting annuals. With the right spot, enough water, and some feeding, summer annuals can add an exciting and colorful element to any garden!
compiled by Cara L. Crocker