Every spring millions of beautiful annuals arrive at our garden center awaiting someone to come along and choose them for their home. Those plants can go one of two ways; they can grow bigger and better or they can slowly begin to decline. Here are a few things to consider when maintaining those beautiful annuals…
Soil: The expression you should plant a $10 plant in a $20 dollar hole is relevant to annuals as well. Quality planting mixes and soils are very important to a plants success. I recommend using a mix like Miracle Grow Potting Mix or Dr Earth Planting Mix in your containers. These offer a blend of things like Forest Humus, Fir Bark, Peat Moss, Pumice, Earthworm Casting, Kelp Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Soybean Meal, MicroActive™ Seaweed Extract, Aloe Vera, Yucca Extract, Oyster Shell & Dolomite Limes and don’t compact like regular potting soil can. Also, replace your soil yearly to make sure you don’t carry insects and disease issues from year to year.
Container: In most cases, the bigger the better. You won’t have to water as constantly and your plants can take root if there is enough soil for them to establish themselves.
Glazed ceramic pots are usually considered the most beautiful. And many are now relatively frost resistant meaning you can keep them outside year round, provided certain care is done. Plastic is great option that has really come a long ways in recent years. Steve’s Ace Home & Garden offers a line by Crescent that offers a 10 year warranty! They look great too, offering many a contemporary styling.
Feed ‘em!: This is the true key to success. Everyday we offer our annuals a low dose of fertilizer that is high in phosphorus but also offers some nitrogen, potassium and micro-nutrients to keep blooming annuals going strong. I like Miracle Gro’s Bloom Booster at ¼th the usual rate and then I feed every time I water. The high phosphorus keeps the blooms going as opposed to a high nitrogen fertilizer which focuses its energy on the plants foliage.
Prune ‘em!: Don’t hesitate to cut back parts of the plant when they get a little leggy. Pinching back annuals forces their foliage to fill out and thicken up creating a fuller plant that can then produce more blooms. It’s also important to dead head your blooms if you choose plants that are not self cleaning like geraniums and petunias. Not good at deadheading? Me either! I tend to choose self cleaning annuals like calibrachoa, impatiens and begonias.
Sara Selchert Carpenter
Steve’s Ace Home & Garden
VP of Operations
Master Landscape Designer