Gardening with annuals

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Annuals are among the most popular of all flowering plants, and it is hard to beat annuals for low cost, beautiful blooms and ease of planting.  All most annuals need in order to thrive is proper water, sufficient sunlight and a good well balanced soil.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these important elements for growing a spectacular bed of annuals.

Most types of annuals will do best in when given a well drained soil containing a moderate amount of humus.  If you start a compost bin at home, you can provide your own high quality humus, or you can buy prepared humus from your favorite garden store.  If your soil is very dry or contains a lot of clay it can be supplemented with manure or high quality compost.

Most varieties of annuals need to have at least six hours of full sunlight per day.  Many types of annuals, such as argeratum, browallia, coleus, fuschia, dianthus, pansy, and impatiens, do well in partial shade or in filtered sunlight, but few if any annuals will thrive in complete shade.  It is important to take these sunlight needs into account when planning your flower bed.

pH Level
Most annuals tolerate a pH range from 6 to 7.4.  Soil that is too acidic to fit this range can be amended with lime, while soil that is too alkaline can be amended with aluminum sulfate.

The watering needs of annuals vary according to variety, and it is important to provide water in accordance with the needs of each plant.

Choosing the best plants
Finding the best plants is very important, and it is important for the gardener to determine whether to grow the annuals from seed or buy transplants.  When purchasing ready to plant stock from a nursery or garden enter, it is important to choose the plants carefully.  It is important to buy only deep green, healthy looking plants.  Most varieties of annuals do their best if they are transplanted before they have fully bloomed.  It is also important to provide the plants with shade and water if they cannot be planted immediately.

Planting times
Most annuals should not be planted until all danger of frost has past.  Most varieties should be planted in warm soil, while hardy and half hardy varieties can be planted while the evenings are still cool.

Planting annuals
The best time to plant most annuals is during the late afternoon.  In most cases you will want to water the plants and the soil in the bed before the annuals are planted.  When transplanting the seedlings, it is important not to disturb the roots.  The hole in which the seedlings are planted should be dug slightly larger than the root ball, and the plant should be planted at the same level it had been in the transplant container.  After the plant has been put into place, the soil should be carefully arranged around the roots and watered thoroughly after planting.  It is important to keep the plant moist until the roots have established themselves.

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