Annual flowers bed preparation maintenance and design
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Annual Flowers - Bed Preparation, Maintenance and Design David Hillock Assistant Extension Specialist/ Consumer Horticulture Advantages: Versatile, sturdy, & relatively cheap Easy to grow Produce instant color Provide season long color and interest! Disadvantages:

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Annual flowers bed preparation maintenance and design l.jpg

Annual Flowers - Bed Preparation, Maintenance and Design

David Hillock

Assistant Extension Specialist/

Consumer Horticulture

Advantages l.jpg

  • Versatile, sturdy, & relatively cheap

  • Easy to grow

  • Produce instant color

  • Provide season long

    color and interest!

Disadvantages l.jpg

  • Must be planted yearly

    • involves some effort &


  • Must be dead-headed for

    continuous bloom

  • Some look disreputable by late summer

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Uses continued:

  • hanging baskets,

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Uses continued:

  • containers,

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Uses continued:

  • bedding plants,

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create interest or

direct the eye,

Uses continued:

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Uses continued:

  • cutting gardens,

    dried flowers , etc.

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Plant Selection

Cultural Considerations:

  • hardiness

  • soil & moisture


  • degree of sun or shade

  • maintenance

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Aesthetic Considerations:

  • size

  • form:

    • spreading,

      round or oval,

      vase, pyramidal,


  • texture

  • color

Bed preparation l.jpg
Bed Preparation:

  • Choose a suitable site:

    • i.e. - sun, shade, wet, dry

    • close to water source

    • away from shallow

      rooted trees and shrubs

      • compete for water

        and nutrients

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  • Prepare site by:

    • removing debris

    • remove/control weeds

      • glyphosate

      • first season devoted to weed control

    • check & adjust drainage

      • Raised beds may be necessary

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  • Soil tests are recommended!

    • determine proper amounts of fertilizer to apply

    • incorporate P & K into bed if needed

    • often need only nitrogen

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  • Amend soil with organic matter

    • incorporate 3-4” of composted organic matter

    • spade or till in 8-12” deep

      • improves soil aeration

      • improves drainage

      • encourages healthier root system

      • easier to plant and manage

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  • Plant while soil is moist - not saturated or back

  • Plant during cooler part of day - evening

  • Water in immediately

  • Apply light mulch 1 - 2 inches thick

    • shades out weed seed

    • moderates soil temperatures

    • holds moisture

Maintenance l.jpg
Maintenance: or back

  • Water regularly

  • Fertilize based

    on soil tests

  • Daily walk through to monitor for problems

  • Remove pests by hand or mechanically

  • Use insecticides/fungicides only when needed

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Maintenance cont. or back

  • Weed control is best done by:

    • Use of mulch

    • Hand pulling

    • Shallow cultivation

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Maintenance continued: or back

  • Weed control with herbicides

    • Preemergence herbicides

      • Treflan – Preen, others

    • Post emergence for grassy weeds

      • Sethoxydim – Poast, Grass-getter

      • Fusilade – Grass-b-Gone

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If no soil test is taken: or back

  • Apply two pounds of 5-10-5 per 100 sq. ft. at planting

  • Apply another one pound at six week intervals throughout the growing season.

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What to look for when buying: or back

  • The plant should be:

    • rosette-like - short, stocky, leaves arranged in a rosette like pattern, vs. tall and leggy with leaves spaced out across stem

    • healthy looking - deep/bright

      green, firm, lustrous; not yellow,

      brown, twisted, curling, sticky, etc.

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  • The plant should: or back

    • have healthy roots - white, fuzzy, abundant; not brown, slimy, or wrapping in circles, or too few

    • be moist - but not soggy; and not water stressed

    • not be in flower - energy directed towards root formation

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Design Concepts or back

  • Formal

  • Informal

Design concept a mountain meadow effect informal l.jpg
Design Concept: or back A Mountain Meadow Effect – Informal

  • Do not worry about straight rows or spacing

    • plant them where they land

  • Use other landscape plants as part of design

    • shrubs, perennials, ground covers, etc.

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Aesthetic Critique or back

  • Personality - Character

    • Is it apt: exactly suitable to its surroundings?

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  • Spontaneity or back

    • Is it free flowing; not labored, loose but confident, happy, buoyant? (negative example: solid lines and boarders)

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  • Color or back

    • Do color combinations have crisp oppositions, smooth analogies?

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  • Color continued: or back

    • Use white near patios - shows up well at night

    • Use white and gray as separators of conflicting colors

    • Warm colors – red, orange, yellow gives illusion of smaller space

    • Cool colors – blue, green, violet gives impression of openness and space

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  • Neighborhood or back

    • Does the flower bed integrate with neighboring flower arrangements?

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  • Natural Environment or back

    • Are varieties used ecologically nested to the sun/shade, sand/clay, wet/dry, cool/hot, and endemic disease facts of life for location?

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  • Practical or back

    • Maintenance: Is it maintainable? (dead-heading)

    • % Risk: Experiment with less than 10% of entire commitment. Repeat past success!

    • Execution: Can it be

      simply planted?

Acalypha wilkesiana copperleaf l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back ns, foliage bronzy with shades of red, purple, crimson, orange

Habit: 2-6’

Culture: full sun

Utilization: background, specimen

Acalypha wilkesiana - copperleaf

Acmella oleracea peek a boo spilanthes l.jpg
Acmella oleracea or back‘Peek-a-boo’ - Spilanthes

  • Flower Colors: yellow with red eye

  • Habit: 12-15” tall, 24-30” wide

  • Culture: full sun to part shade; moist, well-drained soil

  • Utilization: groundcover, container, bedding; also known as toothache plant; purplish foliage

Alternanthera ficoidea joseph s coat garden alternanthera l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back ns, colorful leaves – green, yellow, red, pink, purple

Habit: 6-12” rounded

Culture: sun, almost any soil, can shear

Utilization: carpet, edging

Alternanthera ficoidea – Joseph's coat, garden alternanthera

Amaranthus tricolor joseph s coat amaranth fountain plant l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back color provided by foliage and flowers – scarlet, crimson, orange, yellow

Habit: 1 ½-5’

Culture: sun, average to dry soil, water sparingly

Utilization: background, specimen

Amaranthus tricolor – Joseph's coat amaranth, fountain plant

Angelonia angustifolia summer snapdragon angel flower l.jpg

Flower Colors: purple, white, or pink or back

Habit: 18-24”, upright, slightly cascading, airy

Culture: sun, heat loving

Utilization: cut, border, bed, mass, specimen

Angelonia angustifolia – summer snapdragon, angel flower

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Angelonia blue bicolor or back

Angelonia blue

Basella alba malabar spinach l.jpg

Flower Colors: ns or back

Habit: trailing vine

Culture: sun, hot humid weather

Utilization: trellis, arbor

Basella alba – Malabar spinach

Begonia semperflorens cultorum wax begonia fibrous rooted begonia l.jpg
Begonia semperflorens-cultorum or back – wax begonia, fibrous rooted begonia

  • Flower Colors: white to shades of red or pink

  • Habit: 6-16” round

  • Culture: shade, full sun if moist

  • Utilization: planters, edging, carpet, indoor

Calibrachoa million bells l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back white, reds, pinks, violet, yellow, or orange

Habit: 3-12” tall, 6-24” spread

Culture: full sun, well-drained moist soil

Utilization: planters, edging, border

Calibrachoa – Million Bells

Catharanthus roseus madagascar periwinkle rose periwinkle l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back rose-pink, mauve, white

Habit: 3-18”, prostrate to upright

Culture: sun, part shade, moist well-drained soil, heat tolerant

Utilization: border, bed, ground cover

Catharanthus roseus – Madagascar periwinkle, rose periwinkle

Celosia cristata crested cockscomb l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back red, yellow, gold, orange, pink

Habit: 6-24”

Culture: sun, tolerates dry, porous soil

Utilization: cut, border, edging, bed, dried

Celosia cristata – crested cockscomb

Cleome hasslerana cleome spider flower l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back cherry, pink, rose, violet, white, rose-purple

Habit: 3-4’

Culture: sun, part shade

Utilization: background, cut

Cleome hasslerana – cleome, spider flower

Coleus x hybridus coleus l.jpg

Flower Colors: or back grown for foliage colors –chartreuse, yellow, pink, white, red, maroon, green

Habit: 9-16”

Culture: sun or light shade, well-drained moist soil

Utilization: edging, border, planter boxes, hanging basket, bed, carpet

Coleus x hybridus - coleus

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Rattlesnake or back

Japanese Giant

Alabama Sunset


Rustic Orange

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Euphorbia or back ‘Inneuphdia’ – Diamond Frost® euphorbia

  • Flower Colors: white

  • Habit: mounded, 12-18”

  • Culture: dry to normal; sun to part shade

  • Utilization: rock garden, container, bed, heat and drought tolerant

Evolvulus glomeratus blue daze l.jpg

Flower Colors: or backblue

Habit: spreading

Culture: moist

Utilization: edging, rock garden, groundcover, bed

Evolvulus glomeratus – blue daze

Gaillardia pulchella blanket flower indian blanket l.jpg

Flower Colors: or backyellow, orange, red, scarlet

Habit: 1 ½ - 2’

Culture: sun, withstands drought, wind

Utilization: cut flower, bed, window boxes, planters

Gaillardia pulchella – blanket flower, Indian blanket

Gomphrena globosa globe amaranth l.jpg

Flower Colors: or backpurple, white, pink, yellow

Habit: 9-24” rounded

Culture: sun, well-drained soil, tolerates heat, wind, rain

Utilization: cut, dried, bed, edging, mass

Gomphrena globosa – globe amaranth

Hamelia patens firebush l.jpg

Flower Colors: orange-red or back

Habit: 3-4’

Culture: sun, tolerates heat, humidity, dry conditions, almost any soil

Utilization: background, hummingbird, specimen

Hamelia patens - firebush

Helianthus annuus common sunflower l.jpg

Flower Colors: white, yellow, lemon-yellow, apricot-orange, red, purple, orange-yellow

Habit: 2-10’

Culture: sun, tolerates heat, dry conditions, almost any soil

Utilization: background, winter bird food

Helianthus annuus – common sunflower

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Impatiens wallerana sultana impatiens l.jpg

Flower Colors: all colors, bicolors red, purple, orange-yellow

Habit: 6-18”, compact, mounded

Culture: shade, part shade, sun if moist

Utilization: shaded areas, planters, hanging baskets

Impatiens wallerana – sultana, impatiens


Ipomoea batatus ornamental sweet potato l.jpg

Flower Colors: ns, foliage dark purple, chartreuse, cream and pink

Habit: 4-6’, vine, spreading

Culture: sun

Utilization: ground cover, hanging basket, container

Ipomoea batatus – ornamental sweet potato

Lantana hybrids l.jpg

Flower Colors: yellow, orange, red, magenta, pink, purple and pink

Habit: 1 ½-4’

Culture: full sun

Utilization: beds, planters, hanging baskets

Lantana hybrids

Patriot cowboy

Melampodium paludosum blackfoot daisy l.jpg

Flower Colors: yellow and pink

Habit: 12”

Culture: sun, well-drained soil

Utilization: bed

Melampodium paludosum – blackfoot daisy

Pelargonium x hortorum bedding geranium zonal geranium l.jpg

Flower Colors: red, pink, salmon, white and pink

Habit: 12-20”, round

Culture: sun, part shade

Utilization: moist, well-drained soil with cool root zone

Pelargonium x hortorum – bedding geranium, zonal geranium

Pennisetum setaceum annual fountain grass l.jpg

Flower Colors: pink or purple and pink

Habit: 2-4’, mound to upright arching

Culture: sun, part shade

Utilization: border, background, specimen, fresh flower arrangements

Pennisetum setaceum – annual fountain grass

Pentas lanceolata pentas star clusters l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkwhite, pink, lilac, red

Habit: 2-3’

Culture: sun, ample water, fertilizer

Utilization: bed, border, butterfly plant

Pentas lanceolata – pentas, star clusters

Petunia x hybrida petunia l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkmany colors, striped or star-like

Habit: 8-15”, round, trailing

Culture: sun, part shade, light well-drained soil

Utilization: beds, borders, flower boxes, containers

Petunia x hybrida - petunia

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Blushing Princess and pink

Blue Wave

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Supertunia Lavender Pink and pink

Supertunia Priscilla

Supertunia Giant Pink

Portulaca grandiflora moss rose portulaca oleracea purslane l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkrose, red, yellow, white, orange, cream, striped

Habit: 6-8”, spreading

Culture: sun, hot and dry

Utilization: rock garden, ground cover, edging

Portulaca grandiflora – moss rosePortulaca oleracea – purslane

Salvia coccinea scarlet salvia texas salvia l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkred, white, salmon

Habit: 2-3’, upright

Culture: sun, well-drained soil

Utilization: mixed border, informal appearance

Salvia coccinea – scarlet salvia, Texas salvia

Salvia farinacea blue salvia mealycup sage l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkblue, violet-blue, white

Habit: 2-3’, erect

Culture: sun, prefers well-drained, moist soil

Utilization: cut, border, bed

Salvia farinacea – blue salvia, mealycup sage

Scaevola aemula fan flower l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinklilac mauve

Habit: 4-6”, spreading to 3’

Culture: sun, part shade

Utilization: bed, edging, hanging basket, ground cover, rock garden

Scaevola aemula – fan flower

Tagetes erecta american african aztec marigold l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkyellow to orange

Habit: 10-30”, erect to round

Culture: sun, tolerates dry, prefers moist soil

Utilization: cut, background, border, bed, edging

Tagetes erecta – American, African, Aztec marigold

Tagetes patula french marigold l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkyellow, orange, red-brown, marked with crimson or maroon

Habit: 6-18”, round

Culture: sun, tolerates dry, prefers moist soil

Utilization: edging, bed, cut

Tagetes patula – French marigold

Tecoma stans yellow bells l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkyellow or orange

Habit: 2-4’, bushy

Culture: sun, thrives in heat, prefers moist soil

Utilization: background, border, bed, container

Tecoma stans – yellow bells

Torenia wishbone flower l.jpg
Torenia and pink – Wishbone flower

  • Flower Colors: pink, purple, blue

  • Habit: 6 high by 12” wide mound

  • Culture: partial shade

  • Utilization: shady locations, borders and beds, containers

Verbena bonariensis brazilian verbena verbena on a stick l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pink rose-violet

Habit: 3-4’, upright

Culture: sun, tolerates dry soil; tender perennial, will reseed

Utilization: background, border, butterfly garden

Verbena bonariensis – Brazilian verbena, verbena-on-a-stick

Verbena x hybrida garden verbena l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkwhite, pink, red, blue, lavender, purple

Habit: 12”, upright or spreading

Culture: sun, well-drained soil

Utilization: ground cover, bed, edging, rock garden, window box, hanging basket

Verbena x hybrida – garden verbena

Viola x wittrockiana pansy l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkpurple, white, blue, dark red, rose, sienna, apricot, brown, yellow, combinations

Habit: 4-8”

Culture: sun, part shade; cool moist well-drained soil

Utilization: border, edging, window box, cut, bed

Viola x wittrockiana - pansy

Zinnia elegans garden zinnia l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkrose, apricot, red, white, violet, pale yellow, green, orange, bicolors

Habit: 10-36”

Culture: sun, hot, dry

Utilization: border, edging, cut, bed

Zinnia elegans – garden zinnia


Zinnia angustifolia narrow leaf zinnia mexican zinnia l.jpg

Flower Colors: and pinkwhite, gold, orange

Habit: 6-12”, spreading

Culture: sun, well-drained soil

Utilization: ground cover, edging, border

Zinnia angustifolia – narrow-leaf zinnia, Mexican zinnia