by Bas Kers
Seven Easy Annuals For Beginner Gardeners
You can almost guarantee that a first time gardener will have success with these annuals. The definition of an annual is that it completes its life cycle in one season. It will not come back the next year. All of the plants listed here are drought tolerant and pest free. This makes them true winners for all areas of the Southern United States.
Penta (Pentas lanceolata) This is an excellent choice and comes in colors of pink, red, blue-violate, violet/lavender, and white. It blooms all summer long and is attractive to bees and butterflies. Plant in the front of beds or in containers.
Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa) We plant this annual every year. The colors range from pink, purple, white, and Christmas red. Grows to about 18 inches. I love to dry the blooms for wreaths and arrangements.
Lantana (Lantana spp.) Another annual that we plant every year. This plant comes in pink, purple, red, orange, bright yellow. Does well in zones 8-11. Likes full sun to part shade. Very drought tolerant.
Narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) This is a great little plant for the front of the garden or containers. It only grows 12 to 18 inches tall. It comes in colors of red, orange, gold, and white. It blooms from late spring to mid fall. You will see this plant in many botanical gardens because of its good performance record.
Pansy (Viola x Wittrockiana) Who can resist the beautiful combination of colors on this plant. If you have a hard time combing colors, just take a look at these. One flower can have purples and yellow, or whites and purple, or many other color combinations. Also a great choice for the front of a bed or containers.
Impatiens (Impatiens Wallerana) Comes in shades of pink, purple, white, and red. Height is only 18-24″ so plant it in front of the border or in containers. Likes morning sun and afternoon shade. Some varieties have variegated leaves. Another variety of impatiens is the New Guinea impatiens. It is taller with darker green leaves and can take more sun.
Petunias (Petunia xhybrid) The Purple Wave petunia has been very popular for many years because of its profusion of blooms and its drought tolerance. It likes full sun to part shade. Once established, they are very drought tolerant. Bloom time is late spring to mid fall. Comes in shades of violet, lavender, and purple.
These plants are sometimes referred to as “standards” by garden centers. This means that these plants are perfect for customers looking for annuals that are easy to grow and that they can buy in flats or small pots fairly cheaply. Although these are easy to grow, they still need well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost or other organic matter and some slow release fertilizer.
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