Annuals Aren't Evil: Reasons to Grow Annual Flowers

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Question: I've read some opinions on different blogs stating that annuals aren't a great choice because the methods of producing them aren't always ecologically friendly and because they take a lot of water and fertilizer to grow well. Your thoughts?

petunias

Answer: The reasons behind this point of view seem to be sweeping generalizations. There are annuals that are drought tolerant, so they don't require excessive supplemental watering. There are annuals that prefer lean soil, so they don't need weekly fertilizing. There are greenhouses that have adopted eco-friendly growing methods, and small operations that propagate annuals without fancy equipment or chemicals. Gardeners who are concerned about the environmental impact of greenhouse growing and long-haul shipping of annuals also always have the option of propagating their own annual plants or seeking out local growers. Also, many annuals will self-sow after one season, if allowed, and thus come back as seedlings the next year.

Annuals serve great purposes in the garden. Here are some reasons they should be grown:
1. In a young garden, annuals can be planted between small, young perennials and shrubs, making the garden look fuller and more mature in its first couple of seasons.
2. Flowering annual plants can bridge any gaps that may occur in bloom as early-blooming perennials fade and late-blooming perennials have yet to ramp up. In this way flowering annuals are key in creating a garden that blooms for most months of the year. In warm climates, winter, or cool-season, annuals can keep a garden blooming year-round.

3. Flowering annuals are an important food source for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Annuals also satisfy a gardener's curiosity and desire to change things up in different years. They give you the chance to try something new without a long-term commitment. Annual plants are a part of nature, and they make a great contribution to gardens, as well.

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Learn how to grow a healthy garden of common and unusual annuals with Horticulture Presents: Gardner's Essentials: Annuals CD.

Plan and grow a year-round flower garden with The Gardner's A-Z Guide to Growing Flowers from Seed to Bloom.

Use the Scatter Garden Seed Canisterfor a rainbow of vibrant annuals.

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