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Planting Annuals

Planting Annuals

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Annuals are the color palate of the garden. Since they are really only one-season plants, they give an opportunity to experiment with new color combinations and different schemes and themes.


The bottom line is continuity. Continuity is that thread of uniformity that ties it all together. It is what makes the parts into a whole. It gives a feeling of balance and completion.

Annual color is a great way to get continuity. Through color and variety, it can unify your garden into a truly great picture. The key is a juxtaposition of the main fabric with select accents.

Let us use our 10 ft by 2 ft bed as an example. We could fill the whole thing with petunias and would look great. Now petunias could be mixed colors, which means they are all petunias, but all different colors. That will make a dazzling show. And at 12 inches apart (typical spacing for non-dwarf types) they are pretty economical. The smaller size for bedding annuals (that means they fill a bed in a mass planting) is a quite reasonable size to buy.

On the other hand, two colors can work well together and are not so jumbled. Use that theme too in other beds of the same area, or as filler around shrubs and you really have continuity - and a great garden coming together.

Perhaps in a couple of places use a contrasting pastel accent, like tall yellow marigolds in the rear of the bed.

Dwarf types of Sweet Alyssum are a great compact edging.

Now tie it all together with a low edging, perhaps white dwarf sweet alyssum. This low flower is a great edging or filler. It will also hang over the edge of pots. It is low, though, so don't plant it too close to something that will just grow over and smother it.

Note that all the plants we mentioned are in the category of "old favorites". They are called old favorites for a very good reason - they are dependable, give a great show, and have relatively few problems. Stick with these for starters and stack the deck for your success.

Here's a quick list of summer annual to work from:

Sunny location
Cockscomb (Celosia) - tall or dwarf types
Marigold - Tall, medium or French or Dwarf types (Tagetes patula or T. tenifolia)
Petunia - many types from upright to cascading to dwarf
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima
Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)
Lobelia erinus
Half-Shade to Shade
Begonia - bedding types
Coleus - grown for colorful leaf rather than flower

See what's available, try them out, and... enjoy!

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