Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Easy Gardening Part 2

When I posted Easy Gardening, I only wrote about plants that come back each year without my help, like these oriental lilies on the left. I forgot to mention that I do have some annuals in my garden.

If you don't know the difference between annuals and perennials, annuals bloom pretty much throughout the growing season, while perennials bloom for a short period once (and very rarely twice) during the season. So it pays to have both if you like ease and color all summer long. The trick is not to overdo it with the annuals if you don't have a lot of time.

You can have annuals either by planting the seeds or buying the actual plants at the store. If you plant the seeds, you'll save money, but you have to do the work of digging and turning the soil, scattering the seeds, watering regularly and pulling weeds. If you don't know how to identify your annual seedlings, you may accidentally pull them up with the weeds. (If your kids do your weeding for you, figure you'll lose at least half!)

That's where annual plants come in. Pop them in the ground, keep them watered (and mulched if you hate weeding) and you're pretty much good to go. Around here, you can get annuals at a reasonable price, but you will pay that price every year, so perennials are actually a better deal.

I have not bought many annuals yet this year. I did pick up a basket of pink petunias, and planted seeds for cleome, balsam and morning glory.

Cleome is an old-fashioned flower that is also known as spider flower. They grow tall pretty quickly, and produce lovely white, lavender or pink blossoms with thin wisps that look like spiders' legs. Don't plant them near the windows of your house; they smell like skunk. Put them farther from the house where you can enjoy them as part of the view. You can save the seeds in the fall once the seed spikes on each plant dry out. Then just use that seed the following spring. They will reseed themselves if you let them.

Balsam are pretty and fun, because in the fall, seed pods form between the blossoms and kids like to pop them to get the seeds out (at least my kids enjoyed it!) These also reseed themselves if you haven't already picked off the seeds in the fall.

Morning glory is a vine, and if you plant the seeds near a fence or trellis, the plants that sprout will climb like mad and reward you with pretty blooms that are wide open every morning. If you soak the seeds in warm water the night before you plant them, they will sprout faster. My friend Ann gave me some morning glory plants last year that went crazy all over our garden gate, and covered it in beautiful blue flowers.

Other annuals I have had success with:
Seed: marigold, zinnia, cosmos
Plant: pansies (spring or fall only--they hate heat), impatiens (shade), bleeding heart (shade)

What you plant is not as important as that you take the time to do some kind of planting now. You will reap the rewards for months to come.

1 comment:

Janet said...

I think you should come and do my gardening for me....it would be waaaay easier....:-)