For many of us who garden, our first memories of plant infatuation are probably of growing annuals. That red geranium on the windowsill or a petunia six-pack, or maybe a sweet pea sprouted in a paper cup… those were the beginnings of a lifelong interest.
As we grew in knowledge and sophistication, we may have disparaged annuals, “outgrown” them. True, we’ve all seen enough pots of red geraniums surrounding a spike of cordyline and ringed by trailing vinca to last a lifetime. But annuals offer so much more. If we get past the idea that they’re common and downscale, what a useful group of plants they are.
First of all, annuals are easy. They’re fun and gratifying for beginning gardeners, and problem-solvers for experienced ones. When their few requirements are met, they bloom and bloom (or provide foliage interest) for months on end, offering beauty and interest long after the burst of June perennials has passed. They recover from transplanting quickly and start earning their keep right away, the closest thing to instant gratification in the plant kingdom. And many annuals will self-sow (nicotianas, verbena bonariensis, nigellas, amaranthus, larkspur, cleome, to name just a few) so that you’ll never be without free extra plants to fill vacant spots in the garden or share with friends.
Annuals seem to spark creativity. If you’re the kind of person who has a new favorite color every year, annuals are perfect for you! They come in every imaginable shade, bold to subtle, so you can try new schemes and combinations without making a long-term commitment. At Pondside we love to see our customers putting together colors and textures that would have never occurred to us. (Watch out, we might steal your idea!)
No other class of plants is as mobile as annuals. Their willingness to thrive in containers makes them invaluable for creating gardens where there is no ground: on porches, terraces, decks, windowsills, balconies, rooftops… wherever a pot or box can sit, you can grow an annual. And many are so adaptable that they can be moved indoors for all or part of the cold weather months.
Along with trees, shrubs and perennials, annuals are one of the indispensable categories of plants for gardeners. Unrivaled color, maximum flower power, ease of culture, variety, versatility and portability are all reasons not to overlook these wonderful plants. Try some new ones every year, as we do, and enjoy their many benefits.