Blackwelder column: It’s getting too warm for winter annuals

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 10, 2020

With summer weather arriving, pansies and other winter annuals are beginning to fail. Even though the plants may still look beautiful, it is time to decide which summer annuals will replace them. As home gardeners are forced to stay home during the pandemic, garden centers and retail outlets have been bustling. Plant your favorite annuals soon, because the longer you wait, the slimmer the selection at garden centers and retail outlets throughout the county.

It’s best to remove all their roots from the soil when pansies and other plants are removed. Leftover roots often harbor insects or disease problems which could be a future problem for summer annuals. Till the planting beds adding soil if needed. Allow the soil to stand a few days before planting to reduce disease and insect pests.

Select summer annuals that are healthy and turgid. Avoid those that are too small or overgrown in cell packs or containers. Check the roots to make sure they are healthy and white. Avoid undergrown or dark brown fibrous roots. When planting, choose a cloudy day if possible or late in the afternoon to avoid heat stress to tender plants. Add fine bark mulch to help conserve water and reduce weed growth. Water thoroughly with liquid fertilizer to get the plants established quickly as possible.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at