Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Your Backyard: "April's Colorful Annuals"

Usually in April, Florida gardeners have a short spring before jumping directly into summertime temperatures. This year spring's cooler mornings have lingered and our dry season has been non-existant. I love this time of year and that it is lasting longer is nice.

All your shrubs should have leaves emerging, making it a little easier to see if which plants really didn't recover from the freezes. My variegated hibiscus and vitex agnus-castus survived nicely.

If you haven't pruned your plants back, you still have a few more weeks to cut them back before the stems start to bulk out and become woody. Cut out all the dead branches and if needed a third of the growth to shape.

Annuals to plant this time of year for three to six months of color include:

Ageratum, Cosmos,gazania, gaillardia, gerbera, globe amaranth, hollyhocks, impatiens, marigold, Mexican sunflower, moonflower, morning glories, nierembergia, portulaca, purslane, salvia, sunflower, torenia, verbena, and zinnias.

For less work in the garden but great oomph, place containers and hanging baskets filled with annuals and tropicals in strategic locations along pathways to create points of interest, and to add height and depth.

Place tall tropicals in the center of your container, with another fuller annual along the front and sideviews, adding a different annual, ivy, or groundcover to spill over the sides. Make the taller plant at least two-thirds of your container height for good balance. Make sure that you water container gardens on a regular basis as the temperatures rise. Watering your containers every day in summer is not unusual, which is the reason you should have just a few containers - not an entire yard of annuals.

Here are some great examples of container gardens for your yard. These photographs were taken in 2007 at EPCOT, the ultimate gardening experience during their International Flower and Garden Festival. Notice the color combinations! Don't be afraid to experiment before you buy your annuals. Place them in pots or on the floor together to get an idea of what they will look like in your own container. Don't be afraid to move them around.

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