Darrell Blackwelder: Planting summer annuals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2023

Summer weather has arrived and pansies along with other winter and spring annuals are now history. Even though the plants may still look beautiful, it is time to decide which summer annuals will replace them. Garden centers and retail outlets have been bustling with crowds of home gardeners taking advantage of beautiful annuals. The longer you wait to install your annuals, the slimmer the selection at garden centers and retail outlets throughout the county.

Below are a few tips for planting summer annuals.

• Remove roots from existing winter annuals. It’s best to remove all their roots from the planting bed 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. Add more planting soil if you have low lying areas. Allow the soil to stand a few days before planting to reduce disease and insect pests.

• Select good plants. It is important to select summer annuals that are healthy with strong leaf growth. Avoid those that are too small or over grown in cell packs or containers. Check the roots to make sure they are healthy and white. Avoid undergrown or dark brown overly fibrous roots.

• Choose a cool time to plant. When planting summer annuals, it best to choose a cloudy day if possible or late in the afternoon to avoid heat stress to these tender plants.

• Add mulch. Add fine bark mulch to help conserve water and reduce weed growth. It also reduces heat during extremely hot summer days.

• Irrigate and fertilize. Water thoroughly with liquid fertilizer to get the plants established quickly as possible and maintain a regular irrigation schedule. Keep a close eye and make sure your plants maintain healthy, turgid leaves while becoming established.

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

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