Picking Perfect Annuals
Annuals are some of the easiest and most colorful flowers for your garden. But the trick to finding healthy plants starts at the garden center.
As their name suggests, annuals thrive through one growing season: they sprout, they bloom, they set seed, they die. That means you'll need to replace them year after year. Some of the most colorful and easy-to-grow flowers are annuals, such as zinnias, cosmos, petunias, impatiens and marigolds. You can often find them at nurseries and garden centers in flats or in small pots. But before you head out, consider this:
Make a shopping list first.
There are countless varieties of annuals out there, and
a list may reduce the temptation of impulse buying. Consider how much room you have in your flower beds or how many containers you want to fill, and then the approximate size each plant will grow.
Avoid plants that show signs of stress and pests.
The leaves should be of normal size and color for that variety. Leaves with brown edges, holes, speckling or spots have suffered from neglect, insects or disease.
Annuals should have stout, compact stems.
Avoid leggy plants and those that are single-stemmed. Compact, multiple stems will promote well-branched plants with more colorful blossoms.
Look for buds, not blooms.
Purchase plants with a lot of buds and only a few, if any, open blossoms. This way, the plant will spend its energy developing roots instead of flowers and seeds.
Prepare yourself for the ride home.
Most nurseries will provide transporting materials, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Include a few cardboard boxes, sheets of plastic or an old blanket to help keep your car clean when bringing home your plants.
Avoid excess heat.
Don't leave plants in the car with the windows up for long periods during hot weather. Extreme heat can stress, damage and even kill them.