As their name implies, annuals complete their entire life cycle in a single year. And while stunning, getting the most out of this one-time show can be time-consuming at best. Here are eight annual varieties that offer all the beauty of a spring bloom, without all the fuss.
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The term "annual" refers to any plant that can be sowed, achieve germination, blossom, and wither over the course of a year. Offering almost endless variety and near-instant gratification, annuals are the heroes of the flower garden. Most are easy to grow from seed or seedlings, making them perfect for beginners. But the label could also be utilized to describe the round-the-clock care some varietals seem to require.
For instance, some annuals benefit from deadheading or the removal of spent flowers to encourage a strong rebloom. Varieties such as geranium, marigold, salvia, snapdragon, and other spike-type flowers need to be deadheaded, which can, admittedly, be a lot of work. Others—think: begonia, petunia, and impatiens—are "self-cleaning," meaning that the old blooms fall off naturally and do not require manual removal, making them a better choice for beginner or low-maintenance gardeners. Whichever type of annual you introduce into your garden, proper planting is critical for in order for them to flourish throughout the growing season. The University of Illinois Extension recommends deep, infrequent watering over light watering, a basic initial fertilization during soil prep, and applying a two to three inch layer of organic mulch to your annual beds.
Select annuals suited for cutting so you can create arrangements all season. "To grow healthy cut flowers, any sunny, well-draining site will do," says Adam Dooling, the curator of Outdoor Garden and Herbaceous Collections at the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, New York." Because most annuals require regular deadheading to promote flowering, cutting flowers for arrangements also clears the way for the next flush of blooms. If you adore annuals but crave simplicity, click through for eight easy annuals that demand little attention.
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The classic poppy, or Papaver, has bright orange or red flowers, and most will self-sow regardless of environment. However, poppies perform best in sunlit plots with hydrated yet well-drained soil.
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An edible flower with bold blooms, the nasturtium plant is simple to grow and maintain. This annual thrives in well-drained soil and full sunlight. Martha likes to plant hers along the stone walls of her property for a brilliant pop of color, and she loves it for the spicy flavor it lends to recipes.
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Zinnias have bright, cheerful flowers and are the perfect annual for novice gardeners. The deer-resistant plant thrives in elevated temperatures and full sunlight with minimal care. Gardeners should note that zinnias must not be overwatered, or they'll develop a powdery mildew.
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Annual begonias are an excellent choice for beginner gardens. Plant in partial shade to avoid leaf burn, and be careful not to overwater. You should check the soil for proper drainage.
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Marigolds are yet another edible annual with vivid petals ranging from red and orange to flaxen and cream. The plant's sun-loving blooms are longlasting and deer resistant. They will add a burst of color to brighten any yard.
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A cost-conscious and lovely annual, cosmos are easy to care for in the garden. The seeds can be sown directly into outdoor soil and require little water in order to multiply. Balmy temperatures and full sunlight encourage cosmos to grow.
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When planted directly in fresh soil outdoors, sunflower annuals can be expected to flourish in a myriad of conditions. The tall plants yield a significant number of seeds per bloom, remain fresh for over a week when cut for an arrangement, and provide food for birds.