Annuals are a delight to the gardener and to those who view the garden. They provide bountiful color and fulfill many gardening functions. Annuals can fill in with quick growth and colorful flowers while perennial and foundation plantings take time to grow to their mature sizes. Annuals can provide foliage and color around bulbs before they bloom and fill the space after the bulb flowers are spent.
Annuals are easy to grow from seed. A gardener can grow many inexpensively. Try out various color combinations and types in your garden. There is an annual for just about any gardening use you may have.
But to start with annuals, you may wish to know a bit about the basics. This begins with knowing the difference between tender, hardy and half-hardy plants. Just what do these mean?
Tender annuals are usually plants that come from tropical and subtropical environments. They will not tolerate any frost at all and must not be set out in the garden till after the last frost is past. Many will not tolerate temperatures below about 50 degrees. If you wish to add these to your gardening efforts you must either start them indoors before the last frost or buy them as transplants. Transplant them out in the garden after all danger of frost is past. They will not last long in the fall garden once the night time temperatures begin to drop.
Hardy annuals can tolerate some frost. They can be direct seeded into the garden as soon as the you can work the soil to provide the correct seedbed. A gardener may even plant their seeds in the fall for early growth the next spring where there is a mild climate. As they tolerate some frost, they are a good means to extend your gardening efforts in the fall. They will not shrivel up at the first frost.
Half-hardy annuals are plants that will tolerate just a touch of frost in the garden. Consider them somewhat between the tender and hardy annuals as makes sense. It is still best to set these out after your last projected frost date in the spring. An early light frost in the fall should not kill these allowing you to enjoy your gardening efforts for a longer spell.
Copyright 2006 Sandra Dinkins-Wilson
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