10 Curiosities About Annual Plants
What are annual plants? Surely you have already heard this name and perhaps it is not clear to you what gardeners and nurserymen refer to this expression. So, to begin, let’s immediately clarify: many of the plants that we call ” annual ” are actually perennials in the areas from which these plants come. An annual plant in the truest sense of the word has a short life cycle: it germinates, grows, then blooms and finally dies over the course of a year.
Several flowers in our gardens are actually annual plants, such as poppies, sunflowers, and nasturtiums. These flowers have bright colors and leaves that grow very quickly and are perfect if you want to have a beautiful flower garden.
Several annual species have the positive side of reproducing in a natural way simply with their seeds, which will then be moved and transported by the wind, to then bloom in a new place the following year. Annuals are plants that, remember well, die in a short time after flowering is complete and must always be planted again every spring.
Flowers such as snapdragons, pansies, petunias, geraniums and begonias are, in reality, perennials very sensitive to frost, they come from areas with warm climates and since they are grown in regions that have temperatures different from those of the areas of origin, they behave just like annual plants.
Having a beautiful garden, well-kept, flowery and above all colorful, is the dream of all lovers of gardening, flowers, and plants, but to obtain good results it is very important to know well the species with which you are dealing, especially in the case of annual plants, which are particular and have their own characteristics.
In short, around the annual plants revolve a lot of information and curiosities that everyone should know, to cultivate them at best and with maximum performance. Here then is all you need to know.
1. There is a good reason if annual plants are short-lived
Annual plants sprout, bloom, produce seeds and die, all in a growing season, unlike perennials that can live for more than two years. Most perennials use a great deal of energy to maintain balance in their root systems and sometimes even at the expense of flower production. Annual plants, among other things, use their resources to produce flowers and seeds without counting too much on their roots, which die at the end of the season.
2. Each garden can benefit from annual plants
Let’s take an example: if your garden was a stage, the protagonist’s actors and actresses would be perennials, while annual plants would be secondary characters. So think about planting annuals to perhaps fill the void around a central plant, or to decorate the area at the foot of a shrub, or to extend the flowering period in the garden and, again, to provide a continuous source of nectar for pollinators when perennials have not started flowering. Annual plants will give you a lively and cheerful color and long flowering, and then they are relatively inexpensive to start.
3. There are annual plants which are actually perennials
Some perennials, which are not resistant in various areas, are used as annual plants, such as lantana or verbena, or pansies which are short-lived perennials usually sold and grown as annuals in areas where the weather is mild.
4. Some annual plants behave like perennials
The fact that some annual plants also grow the following year, let’s face it, is a real and great advantage. In this case, the plants do everything by themselves, just leave them alone in the garden, without killing or uprooting them. Nasturtium and alyssum are two plants that behave exactly like this and in fact, are among the most popular in home gardens.
5. Some annual plants are considered … “domineering”
Well yes, there are some annual plants that can be a little domineering, even excessively, because they self-sow inside the garden where they can also replace native plants. The Cosmos bipinnatus, for example, a flower originating in Mexico, is considered one of the particularly expansive flowers in this sense. Nigella damascena is another species considered “invasive seeder” but in this case, it can be easily stopped by removing the pods before they explode.
6. Pollinating insects may prefer perennials
Although some of the annual plants boast bulky flowers, not all flowers are tempting for pollinating insects. Often some species were chosen for the garden sacrifice, for their livelihood, some traits such as nectar or fragrance, which is thus considered of inferior quality. In addition, pollinators would prefer to visit native plants best suited to the local environment, and this is another reason for planting native species
7. Some annual plants can be grown from seed
There is a technique called “direct sowing” which involves planting seeds in the garden right where you want them to grow. In short, it seems a bit like the discovery of hot water, but we assure you that this step has its importance. The best seeds to try this system are those of zinnias, marigolds, sunflowers, and nasturtiums. In addition, by planting each year from seed you can grow some unique varieties that nurseries do not sell. And then, a pack of seeds costs significantly less than a plant!
8. For best results, plant at the right time
Annual plants should already be in the soil or pots as soon as possible after being purchased. And surely it is better not to buy annual plants that explode in their pots and not to let them become too large because this means unnecessarily weakening and stressing the plant. Also, when choosing annuals in the shop, always look for young plants that do not bloom as they will acclimatize better in their chosen position once you plant them. Finally, water immediately and thoroughly after sowing, even if rain is expected in the following days.
9. Annual plants are hungry and thirsty
We have said that there is a lot of energy that is spent on the flowering and the release of the buds, so even if the annual plants are in organic soil, they will still appreciate being fed every month with a fertilizer suitable for the species in question. Annual plants are also thirsty regularly since they do not have a deep root system and bloom better and more if they can draw on the right doses of water. An important tip: when the soil is dry below an inch below the surface, it’s time to water!
10. Annual plants need pruning
To encourage and ensure continuous flowering, annual plants need a nice routine pruning, and by pruning, we mean that the flowers should be removed especially if they are a little ugly. This step is essential for older flower varieties that would otherwise have to bear the weight of older flowers as well. If the annual plants seem jagged and appear disordered, prune a few centimeters to encourage new and more orderly growth and abundant flowering.