Most of the flowering bedding plants sold in the spring are annuals. Annuals usually bloom continuously for months and are then killed by frost. They are often used as companion plants to perennials or bulbs (which bloom for a much shorter period). If you want a lot of summer color in your garden, be sure to include plenty of annuals in flower beds and in containers. Although they must be replaced each year, annuals cannot be beat for their lengthy show. And because they come out at the end of the season, you have a chance to work on soil improvement and change color schemes and plants each year.
When shopping for annuals, look for plants with healthy leaves and only a few buds or blossoms. Most of the annual bedding plants sold are compact selections and the mature height and spread of the plants varies with variety. Check plant tags for recommended spacing and make sure you buy enough plants to fill the space you have in mind. It usually takes one or two flats to make a colorful splash. Keep plants well watered until you plant them in your garden.
• Gently remove transplants from their containers by turning upside down and squeezing from the bottom rather than pulling them from the top. If some roots have grown out through the drainage holes, you can pinch these off to make it easier to remove the plants from the containers.
• Set plants at about the same depth that they grew in their containers. Make sure that the topmost roots are covered with about 1/4 inch of soil, but avoid piling soil or mulch up around the main stem.
• Thoroughly soak the bed with water after you have finished planting. A thin mulch of pine needles, shredded bark, or other attractive material will help control weeds and keep the soil cool and moist.