Annual Border - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Joanne Kovaloski
Attleboro, MA
Avatar for joluko
Question by joluko
March 21, 1998
We plant a low border of annuals in front of our sidewalk (50+ ft.), usually impatiens. I would like a suggestion for a low maintenance plant with good color, and a height of under 12 in. The area gets mostly sun, some morning shade. The impatiens required a lot of watering; also I would like to avoid anything which would require constant deadheading.

Answer from NGA
March 21, 1998
You might try some marigolds, ageratum, sweet alyssum, pansies, petunias, candytuft, zinnias. These are all, or can be if you choose the low growing varieties, within your height requirements.

However, they all need water...just like you! Try towater them for longer time periods, so the water sinks way down into the soil. You can put a tuna can with the top removed in the flower bed. When it has an inch or two of water in it, turn the water off. This should allow you to water it less frequently with the added benefit of being better for your plants. Or, lay down a soaker hose right down the row. This will water the plants right where they need it--onto their roots, and you'll lose less water to evaporation.

As far as dead-heading goes, your best bet might be one of the "wave" series of petunias. They are reputed to continue blooming with little or no deadheading. This is also said to be true of the new yellow petunia "Prism Sunshine".

For the others I mentioned, if you want bloom, you'll have to dead-head! The reason for this is that after the flower fades, it begins to form seeds. The plant will put all it's energy into making seed instead of more flowers. If you want more flowers (and a healthier looking plant) you need to remove those seed producers!

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