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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

Annual Flowers - Bed Preparation, Maintenance and Design

David Hillock

Assistant Extension Specialist/

Consumer Horticulture

  • Versatile, sturdy, & relatively cheap
  • Easy to grow
  • Produce instant color
  • Provide season long

color and interest!

  • Must be planted yearly
    • involves some effort &


  • Must be dead-headed for

continuous bloom

  • Some look disreputable by late summer
uses continued
Uses continued:
  • hanging baskets,
uses continued6
Uses continued:
  • containers,
uses continued7
Uses continued:
  • bedding plants,
uses continued9
Uses continued:
  • cutting gardens,

dried flowers , etc.

plant selection
Plant Selection

Cultural Considerations:

  • hardiness
  • soil & moisture


  • degree of sun or shade
  • maintenance
Aesthetic Considerations:
  • size
  • form:
    • spreading,

round or oval,

vase, pyramidal,


  • texture
  • color
bed preparation
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

Prepare site by:
    • removing debris
    • remove/control weeds
      • glyphosate
      • first season devoted to weed control
    • check & adjust drainage
      • Raised beds may be necessary
Soil tests are recommended!
    • determine proper amounts of fertilizer to apply
    • incorporate P & K into bed if needed
    • often need only nitrogen
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
Shape bed by slightly raising or mounding towards the center or back
    • provides better drainage
    • positions plants so they can be viewed more easily
Plant while soil is moist - not saturated
  • 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
  • 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
maintenance cont
Maintenance cont.
  • Weed control is best done by:
    • Use of mulch
    • Hand pulling
    • Shallow cultivation
maintenance continued
Maintenance continued:
  • Weed control with herbicides
    • Preemergence herbicides
      • Treflan – Preen, others
    • Post emergence for grassy weeds
      • Sethoxydim – Poast, Grass-getter
      • Fusilade – Grass-b-Gone
If no soil test is taken:
  • 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.
what to look for when buying
What to look for when buying:
  • 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.

The plant should:
    • 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
design concepts
Design Concepts
  • Formal
  • Informal
design concept a mountain meadow effect informal
Design Concept: 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.
aesthetic critique
Aesthetic Critique
  • Personality - Character
    • Is it apt: exactly suitable to its surroundings?
    • Is it free flowing; not labored, loose but confident, happy, buoyant? (negative example: solid lines and boarders)
    • Do color combinations have crisp oppositions, smooth analogies?
Color continued:
    • 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
Structure, Form, & Texture
    • Are there clear contrasts, effective relationships, harmonic rhythms?
    • Does the flower bed integrate with neighboring flower arrangements?
Natural Environment
    • Are varieties used ecologically nested to the sun/shade, sand/clay, wet/dry, cool/hot, and endemic disease facts of life for location?
    • 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
Flower Colors: 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
Acmella oleracea ‘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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: purple, white, or pink

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

Culture: sun, heat loving

Utilization: cut, border, bed, mass, specimen

Angelonia angustifolia – summer snapdragon, angel flower
basella alba malabar spinach
Flower Colors: ns

Habit: trailing vine

Culture: sun, hot humid weather

Utilization: trellis, arbor

Basella alba – Malabar spinach
begonia semperflorens cultorum wax begonia fibrous rooted begonia
Begonia semperflorens-cultorum – 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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: 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


Japanese Giant

Alabama Sunset


Rustic Orange


Euphorbia ‘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
Flower Colors: blue

Habit: spreading

Culture: moist

Utilization: edging, rock garden, groundcover, bed

Evolvulus glomeratus – blue daze
gaillardia pulchella blanket flower indian blanket
Flower Colors: yellow, 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
Flower Colors: purple, 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
Flower Colors: orange-red

Habit: 3-4’

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

Utilization: background, hummingbird, specimen

Hamelia patens - firebush
helianthus annuus common sunflower
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


impatiens wallerana sultana impatiens
Flower Colors: all colors, bicolors

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

Habit: 1 ½-4’

Culture: full sun

Utilization: beds, planters, hanging baskets

Lantana hybrids

Patriot cowboy

melampodium paludosum blackfoot daisy
Flower Colors: yellow

Habit: 12”

Culture: sun, well-drained soil

Utilization: bed

Melampodium paludosum – blackfoot daisy
pelargonium x hortorum bedding geranium zonal geranium
Flower Colors: red, pink, salmon, white

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
Flower Colors: pink or purple

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
Flower Colors: white, 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
Flower Colors: many 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

Supertunia Lavender Pink

Supertunia Priscilla

Supertunia Giant Pink

portulaca grandiflora moss rose portulaca oleracea purslane
Flower Colors: rose, 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
Flower Colors: red, 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
Flower Colors: blue, 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
Flower Colors: lilac 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
Flower Colors: yellow 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
Flower Colors: yellow, 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
Flower Colors: yellow 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
Torenia – 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
Flower Colors: 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
Flower Colors: white, 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
Flower Colors: purple, 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
Flower Colors: rose, 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
Flower Colors: white, gold, orange

Habit: 6-12”, spreading

Culture: sun, well-drained soil

Utilization: ground cover, edging, border

Zinnia angustifolia – narrow-leaf zinnia, Mexican zinnia