“Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” – this song just naturally belongs to May mornings. The dewy freshness of the plants and the sweet smell of the earth makes a gardener know that spring has sprung.
Annuals – This is the last call for annuals in the South. We depend largely on this group of plants for seasonal color.
The last planting should be done now in order for the plants to become established before searing heat and wind begin to take their toll. By careful planning, annuals can provide a succession of bloom from the last frost in spring until the first killing frost in fall and in some places even longer.
Hardy annuals, those that will withstand light frost or seem to prefer low temperatures for germination, are already well established. They need only minor attention… such as thinning, cultivation and feeding.
This group provides some of the all-time favorites. The list includes sweet peas, alyssum, poppies, cornflower and larkspur. As most gardeners know, these plants give better results, when seeds are planted as early as the soil can be worked.
All transplanting of annuals should also be done this month. Transplants are usually available in several different ways. They may be bought in trays or flats both of which will result in some disturbance of the root systems.
The use of individual pots is fast disappearing in favor of the pressed peat pot. These pots are made of peat moss and are available in several sizes. They are naturally only temporary containers. The roots of the plants actually grow through them.
This pot may be planted without removing the plant. As it becomes saturated with soil moisture it will disintegrate and the plant continues to grow without any shock from transplanting.
Many factors make this method of transplanting very attractive both for the grower and consumer. The cost of the pots is not prohibitive when one whole operation of shifting or “pricking off” is eliminated.
The most important thing to remember, though, is the fact that stronger plants can be obtained with no shock in transplanting. The result is a longer period of blooming, which is what every gardener desires.
Following the Plan
To really get the most beauty from the use of annuals, consider the overall garden plan or the whole landscape design plans… the one you made last January!
Take the locations as laid out and make detailed plans for placing the various plants there. Study the possible plant combinations and the effect you wish to achieve with them.
If you have pansies that provided late winter and early spring bloom and if you cannot bring yourself to take them out, interplant them with warm-weather annuals and they will transition nicely into the next cycle of bloom.
Spacing is important everyone is apt to crowd these later flowering annuals because of the close spacing of the pansies. Actually these later annuals require a great deal more space per plant.