Flowers that Fit Your Garden

Finding Flowers that Fit Your Garden: Modern-day annuals are impressive indeed. They’ve been bred to produce abundant flowers and lush foliage throughout the heart of the growing season. They rush to flowering because their means of reproduction is by seed. And to get there, the flowers must come first. This great output guarantees bountiful garden color and also makes most annuals great for bouquets. By the time fall comes and seeds form (if they do, before frost), the plants are spent and die. By then, though, you should certainly have gotten your money’s worth! Annuals are very gracious guests.

Not surprisingly, a huge range of annuals is on the market, and more annuals arrive every year. Demand is market-driven, innovation pushes on, and the upshot is that you can choose from many, many different annuals — no matter where you live, no matter what growing conditions your garden offers. The variety of annuals allows you to find countless plants that are specific to warm or cool weather.

Some like it hot: Warm weather annuals

Lots of annuals thrive in hot summer weather, tolerating even periods of prolonged drought in style. Many annuals have this preference because their predecessors, or ancestors if you will, originated in warm, tropical climates with long growing seasons. All plant breeders did was capitalize on or preserve these qualities while improving the plants’ appearance or expanding the color range.

Some warm-weather annuals are actually perennial in some regions but are used as annuals in other areas because they’re not hardy there (they don’t survive the winter). For instance, snapdragon can be a perennial in the South but is used as an annual farther North. Some tropical plants are also commonly used for temporary display.

Examples of favorite warm-weather annuals include impatiens, Madagascar periwinkle, and marigolds.

Some annuals like it cool

Some annuals have their origins in areas with colder winters and mild but not blazingly hot summers. Plant breeders have stepped in to improve these plants’ flower production (the more blooms, the merrier!), add new colors, and select for compact plant habit (shapes or forms). The result is a huge range of good, tough plants that even gardeners with shorter growing seasons can count on. Examples of favorite cool-weather annuals include cleome (spider flower), pansy, Johnny jump-ups (a type of viola), trailing lobelia, and calendula (pot marigolds).

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