Lawn & Garden
Figure 1: A sunny annual border planted with New Guinea impatiens and ornamental peppers
When to Plant Annuals
Planting early in the spring season will ensure root systems develop properly before high temperatures arrive. Below are the planting seasons for Alabama.
Planting Dates for Summer Annuals in Alabama
|North Alabama||May 1-30|
|Central Alabama||April 20-May 10|
|South Alabama||April 15-May15|
Sun Versus Shade
It is important to match the plant’s sunlight requirements with the amount of sunlight the planting bed receives.
Plants and Sunlight
|Shade Plants||Part Shade Plants||Sun Plants|
|0 hours sunlight||0-4 hours sunlight||6+ hours sunlight|
|No direct sunlight||Early morning sunlight only||Direct sun after noon|
Three easy plants for shade:
Three easy plants for part-shade:
- Wax Begonia
- New Guinea Impatiens
- Wishbone Flower
Three easy plants for full sun:
- Creeping Zinnia
Choose Healthy Plants
Choosing healthy plants at the garden center is the first step to a successful annual planting. Look for annual plants with these characteristics.
Healthy Plant Checklist:
_ Healthy, bright white roots that fill out the pot
_ Stocky, strong stems
_ Many flower buds but few open flowers
_ Good branching off the main stem
_ No yellowing or spotted leaves
_ No signs of insect damage
Preparing the Planting Bed
Annual plants require well-drained, fertile soil because they expend great amounts of energy on flower production. Planting beds should be prepared using the following steps to create a good environment for them to thrive.
Planting Bed Prep Steps
- Remove ground covers such as sod from the area using herbicides or digging out plants.
- Till area to a depth of 8-10 inches.
- Add and till in 4 inches of organic matter and any fertilizers recommended in your soil test report. Visit your local Extension Office for a soil test kit.
- Smooth soil and slope beds away from buildings. Slope the edges to improve drainage.
- Plant bedding annuals at the recommended distance on the plant label, taking care not to plant too deeply or shallowly.
- Cover the entire bed with 2 inches of pine bark mulch or straw. Be careful not to cover plant stems in mulch.
- Water as needed. Initially, plants should be watered every few days. Once established, plants should receive 1 inch of water per week if not supplied by rainfall.
Sources: Allyson Shabel, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama A&M University
Original Author: J. Raymond Kessler, Jr., Ph.D., Horticulture Professor, Auburn University
Download the PDF version of UNP-2162 Quick Tips for Buying and Planting Summer Annual Plants