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In the strictest terms, an annual flower is one that completes its entire growing cycle in one season. A growing cycle begins with seed, then flowers, and then seed again from the flowers. Although an annual is just that, they pack a great deal of beauty into one short season.
This definition of annual is overly simple. There are other plants that are treated as annuals as well. Tuberous begonias or heliotrope are examples of flowers that are defined as half-hardy perennials. Half-hardy perennials cannot survive even a light, early fall frost. Other plants, also considered to be an annual, are cold-hardy and can handle freezing temperatures. Examples are ornamental cabbage and pansies.
For an avid gardener, the nice thing about annual flowers is their versatility and diversity. Annuals are ideal when the objective is to develop a combination of form, color, and texture that lasts through to the late summer and into the early fall. Colors range from striking red geraniums and bright yellow sunflowers to more subtle shades of lavender.
Although the color of the flower is that which leads to its selection, there are other equally important characteristics. Annuals can be tall or short. Some annuals are climbers. Some annuals prefer direct sunlight, while others prefer partial shade. Here are some things you can learn if you keep reading:
* Designing with annuals
* Starting annual flowers from seed
* Growing and caring for annuals
* Bold red annuals for your garden
Designing with Annuals
As the term implies, annuals bloom for one season only. Perhaps it is because of their limited life span that annuals are very flexible. If, after a year, you are not fully satisfied with the effect you created, change it the following season and chalk last year up to experience. When you plant annuals, there is no need to move them as you would do if the flower were a perennial.
The majority of popular annuals are used as bedding plants. Combinations of different colors and different foliage are often planted in a bed that is equally accessible from all four sides. This arrangement provides for maximum visibility as well as ease of maintenance. Plantings of this nature can be extremely effective when red annual flowers are planted in a block separated by strips of lush green lawn. This arrangement, although simple, lends a somewhat formal effect to the yard.
Equally impressive is a band of single-color flowers divided by a band down the center of a different flower and different color. An example worth emulating would be a border using vivid dark flowers such as border lobelia in combination with a center mound of white flowers such as sweet alyssum. Lobelia and alyssum have similar growing habits. They both tend to grow low and mounding, making them a useful annual for edging flower beds.
Starting Annual Flowers from Seed
A visit to a garden center provides you with opportunities to purchase flora, which is well on its way. Knowing that annuals can be bought, why start them from seed? The answer is one of economy. A package of seed might cost $2.00. The package contains enough seed to grow at least four flats of flowers. To purchase the same number of plants in a garden center costs a great deal more than the cost of a package of seed.
Not only can you save money by starting your plants from seed, but you also have a bigger selection. Most garden centers focus on starting and selling popular plants but rarely do they sell some of the old favorites such as four o’clocks.
Although many annuals are started in individual pots or flats, many can be seeded directly into garden soil. Just as some annuals can be direct-seeded, some produce seeds which self-sow and, under the right conditions, grow and flower the following year. Self-sowing annuals include petunias, foxglove, and forget-me-not.
Growing and Caring for Annuals
Annual plants, in most cases, prefer well-drained soil. Digging in quality peat moss or compost into the soil helps by adding organic matter, making it easier for the plant’s root system to get established quickly.
As not all annuals can tolerate cold weather, it is essential to pay attention to whether the plant is hardy or tender. Determining this can help you decide where to set them out in your yard. Many nurseries tag annuals to identify their hardiness. If you have any doubt, wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting any flowers in your garden. Of course, you also must pay particular attention to whether the plant prefers partial shade or direct sun.
Bold Red Annuals for Your Garden
If you are passionate about having flora around your home, show it by adding bold, red annual flowers. There is little doubt; red is a gorgeous color. Red draws eyes and turns heads. When you decide to introduce red into your garden, you have the choice of adding a whimsical flower such as nemesia or a vibrant blooming chrysanthemum, a flower that evokes passion and love.
* The spires of celosia have a twisted shape that closely resembles a fiery sunset. Celosia prefers to be planted in a well-drained area and only requires a slight mist on the blooms.
* Begonias are a favorite for inclusion in a container. Begonias bloom throughout the summer, making them the ideal plant for a window sill or summer garden.
* Chrysanthemums are available in a host of colors. Red is the color that conveys love. Mums grow well when kept slightly dry and in a position where they get at least five hours of direct sunlight.
* Geraniums are an easy-to-grow summer favorite. They look beautiful outside, and they even flourish when brought inside once the season changes. Geraniums are ideal for window boxes and planters.
As well as celosia, begonias, mums, and geraniums, other equally beautiful red annual flowers can be used as bedding plants, window boxes, or hanging baskets.