When we think of the month of May, we think of flowers. Many trees and shrubs are blooming now but that won’t last long. To have continuous bloom throughout the summer season we plant annuals. Annuals are flowering plants that live their life cycle in one year or one season.
They can quickly grow from seed to maturity, flower and then set seed all in the span of a few months. In our area, annuals planted now will continue to flower until the first hard frost, which is usually October or November.
Annuals are very versatile. They can be planted in containers or hanging baskets, used to edge a walk, or accent a mailbox. Wherever you plant them, they will give season long color. There are numerous varieties to choose from, begonias, impatiens, geraniums, marigolds, salvias, etc. Some annuals are not grown for flowers, but have colorful foliage like coleus, amaranthus, dusty miller and ornamental grasses. When choosing your annuals, consider the site where they will be planted. Is the area sunny, shady, wet or dry? Do you have deer, rabbits or groundhogs living in the area? This information will dictate what types of flowers you should buy. Another consideration is the color palette you prefer. Colors such as red, orange and yellow are considered hot or warm colors, and can be seen from a distance. Colors such as blue, purple, pink or white are cool colors and better viewed up close. A complimentary color palette may be a mix of warm and cool colors.
For an interesting tropical display plants such as palms, ferns, banana trees, hibiscus, orchids and elephant ears can be used as annuals. They can be brought into the house or a greenhouse for the winter and re-used the following year.
Annual flowers can be used in vegetable gardens. They not only provide color but can be useful companion plants as well. Marigolds, geraniums and chrysanthemums will repel insect pests, whereas cosmos, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias will attract pollinators. A few annuals are even edible and will make a colorful and nutritious addition to salads, such as nasturtiums, pansies and calendula.
Whichever annuals you choose to plant, have fun with it! Experiment with different color combinations and take notes, you can always change it up next year!