When to Plant Annuals

When to plant annuals in a Houston landscape is a question often asked of Exterior Worlds. Annuals, sometimes called seasonal color, denote the transition from one season to another. They present a quick and easy way to make your exterior design sparkle, bringing freshness to a sometimes static tableau.

The garden term “annual” refers to flowers that complete their life cycle in the span of one growing season. We like to think of annuals as the color palate of the garden and, because they are one-season plants, annuals give us the opportunity on a regular basis to experiment with new color combinations, schemes and themes.

Understandably, Mother Nature has quite a bit to say about when to plant annuals, as she does about planting gardens, in general. Our region is mainly noted for its hot, humid summers and mild winters with torrential rainstorms, the occasional freeze and hurricanes thrown in. Because of this unpredictable weather, we typically recommend that planting annuals be a quarterly affair.

However, you can chose seasonal color that will last from early winter through spring and then from summer through autumn. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pay close attention to how your annuals are thriving. You want to change them out before they start dying out. Otherwise, you have probably waited too long for the next growing season.

So much for the uncontrollable elements. Homeowners do have control over several factors that can change the answer as to when to plant annuals. To begin with, you can extend the life of your annuals with proper planting soil. Houston’s native soil has a high clay content, which, for the most successful annual plantings, must be amended with compost, sand, and loam.

Another friend to annuals is a properly designed irrigation system that provides good coverage. Especially during times of drought, an irrigation system is the lifeblood of your landscape. It also dramatically reduces loss of water due to evaporation.

Yet another ingredient to successful annuals is your mulch installation. Mulch keeps moisture in the soil, which is essential during our hot months. Be aware, though, with mulch there can be too much of a good thing. We always avoid putting mulch up the tender stalks of annuals. Otherwise, it can smother them and leave them open to disease.

Finally, one last answer to the question of when to plant annuals in a home garden design. It is an aesthetic one, a decision based on your personal preferences. Perhaps you like an ever-evolving, ever-revolving play of color across your landscape design. If so, change out the seasonal color often. Or maybe you prefer the hardier plants, the heat-beaters that like our extreme summers and the specialists that enjoy the area’s cool and short winter days. Then, for you, less is more. It is your garden. Let it say what you want it to.

Serving the greater Houston area since 1987, Exterior Worlds provides high-end landscape design and services. 713-827-2255. www.exteriorworlds.com.