Few flower gardens would be complete without annual flowers. Their earliness and generosity of bloom will bring color and grace to any garden. Annual flower plants can be placed among perennials to fill in gaps in their bloom times, worked into bulb plantings, or just planted in a bed by themselves. Annuals are versatile, lovely, and colorful.
An annual plant is a plant which completes its entire life cycle in one growing season. The plant will germinate from seed, grow to maturity, flower, set seed and die in a span of a few months. Annuals generally will flower much more generously and over a longer period than perennial plants.
Annuals have been divided into three general hardiness classes, hardiness being how much cold weather, or frost they can endure and still live, grow, and bloom. The three classes are warm weather annuals, cool weather annuals, and frost hardy annuals.
Warm weather annuals will tolerate no frost at all. These are set out after the last frost date for the area in which they are to be grown. Warm weather annuals would include zinnias, marigolds, and nasturtiums.
Cool weather annual plants can tolerate some light frost and may be planted in the garden earlier. Indeed, some of these thrive in the cooler weather early in the season. These would include snapdragons, petunias, and calceolaria.
Frost hardy annuals can tolerate quite a bit of frost, indeed some, like the pansy, can be fall planted in a sheltered location and will over winter just fine. The pansy, if mild periods in winter occur, may even flower during the cold months of November, December, and March. In our southeastern Indiana garden I have had blooming pansies in January and February. Stock, calendula, and larkspur are also cold hardy annuals which can tolerate some frost.
An annual flower garden can be a very rewarding endeavor as annuals provide a bounty of color of a long period of time. Annual plants are quick to grow and bloom and will provide many months of bloom for your garden.
Article By Paul Wonning.