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Gardening Articles: Care :: Seeds & Propagation

Easy Annuals for Summer Color

by Susan Littlefield

A garden just isn't a garden without flowers! Whether planted in a grand border, a small bed by your backdoor or in pots on your deck, flowering plants add immeasurably to our enjoyment of the garden. Even if you are a die-hard vegetable gardener, adding flowers alongside your tomatoes and squash will not only add beauty, but will attract the pollinators and beneficial insects so important to a thriving garden.

Annuals are among the most gratifying flowers to grow because, once they start to flower, many keep it up non-stop for the rest of the season. And because you plant them anew every spring, annual flowers are great for trying out new plants and new color combinations.

So what exactly is an annual? Botanically speaking, it's a plant that, in one growing season, will flower, set seed and die. And many of the plants we call annuals are indeed true annuals. Some of the plants we grow as annuals, such as snapdragons, petunias and impatiens, are actually frost-sensitive perennials that we just grow as annual flowers because they aren't hardy enough to make it through our winters. The true annuals are divided into hardy and tender annuals. Hardy annuals, such as larkspur, can take some frost and can be sown in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. But many annuals such as nasturtiums and cosmos need to wait until the last frost date has passed before they go in the ground.

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