It’s almost that time! Time to plant hundreds and hundreds of 5” pots. In my line of work I go through what some might call a ridiculous number of annual flowers and a waste of money each year. A yearly budget of over $6000.00 that is ripped out and thrown in the trash each fall. I have to admit that no matter what kind or how many perennials you use, you will not get the dramatic, eye popping effect for the entire summer as you will with annuals.
Living in a north eastern climate (Just north of Boston) makes it more difficult for people to spend a large amount of money on annuals knowing that they will be throwing them out come frost time, and a winter like this, lingering far into spring makes the annual season even shorter. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work but the outcome makes it all worth it. These are some pictures from the last year or two.
For larger plantings I usually use either Begonias or a a variety of Impatiens that are fairly new to me called Fanfare.
Red is not my favorite color but with Begonias you don’t have a lot of choices. Another reason I like using Begonias is they are usually a strong plant when it comes to disease and extremely drought tolerance. Basically red, white and pink with light and dark leaf variations are your choices unless you get into some of the cascading varieties. I was looking for the greatest contrast with two colors and pairing the leaves with the flower color worked well. It takes some time for these plants to fill in like this, but when they do it really looks nice.
The Fanfare Impatiens are just like the New Guinea but they grow over 15″-24″ tall. They have quite the root system, so when it comes time to send them to the compost pile you might have your work cut out for you. I find that a pitch fork works best because if you try to rip them out by grabbing the stems they just snap of leaving the base and roots.
I’m sure many have heard of the Impatiens Downy Mildew that wiped out 90% of impatiens in the North East two summers ago. Some of the varieties are less susceptible like New Guinea, Fanfare Impatiens and SunPatiens . Some refer to them as Impatiens on steroids that love the sun. Most of the garden retailers I deal with won’t even sell the original shade loving impatiens anymore due to the spread of Downy mildew.
One of my favorite places to use annuals are in large planters or window boxes. Some of my favorites are Coleus, Alyssum, Lobularia , Million Bells, Wave Petunias and many more but I won’t list them all. I also put up about fifteen 20″ hanging baskets around the property. The baskets are mixed depending on the amount of sun they get. I used Mandevilla last year in some of the full sun baskets which looked nice climbing up the hook in middle.
I try to use flowers that will bounce back if they go a little longer than they should without water. I usually change them up every year or two just try something different.
They are more work no matter how you look at it. They need more water, they need more food, they need to be removed and then repeat the whole process the next year. Keep in mind if you’re looking for something that will stand out and be the talk of the neighborhood or maybe just to fill some spots in between perennials or areas that need a little color throughout the season, than annuals might be just the type of flower for you. For more tips, tricks and help in the garden take a look at these.