Getting the most out of your summer annuals shopping adventure

A little thought and planning can go a long way toward success. Annuals are short-lived plants, that, although they generally only last a season, add a lot of “punch” to your landscape. I like to think of them as the “accent” or “stand-out pieces” in your garden wardrobe!

Summer annual flower container blog post from Schonheit Gardens in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin near Madison.

CONTAINERS

If you’re planting annuals in containers, it’s a good idea to dust off the pots you have and determine if they will work again this year. Take your empty pots outside and do some placement-- by your front stoop, on the porch or deck etc. From the spot you’ll be sitting at for your weekend coffee, is there a place in your view that could use a splash of color? Decide if you think you have the right sizes and number of pots for the spaces you choose. Generally, a stand-alone pot should be larger, and smaller pots can be grouped. In my case, I’ll be needing some new pots as I brought in some of my annuals inside to over-winter, and now, I like them as houseplants so much that I know I won’t be able part with them!

Summer annual flower container blog post from Schonheit Gardens in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin near Madison.
Summer annual flower container blog post from Schonheit Gardens in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin near Madison.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

If you’re new to container annuals or just want to try something new, thinking about your location ahead of time is key to thriving plants. Is the spot full sun, part-sun to part-shade, full shade? Is it protected from rain and wind? If you’ve planted there in the past, did the plant it do well? I saw that snap-dragons thrived in the sun-to-part-sun location on my front steps so I plan on repeating them this year in a different color.

Many times, your yard itself tells you where and what to plant! A few years ago, I had a large shallow container of violas (johnny-jump-ups and pansies) on the ground next to a lawn chair, and lo and behold, each year since, they have re-seeded in the ground in that area. Needless to say, pansies like that spot and grow well there!

This is where the knowledge of the nursery gals at Schönheit can be of extra value, helping you find the “just-right” annuals for your location.

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COLOR + DESIGN

This is the fun part! What colors do you think you might want to try this year? Warm red, oranges and yellows, cool purples, blues and pinks? How about trying some pots that use different colored and textured foliage plants, with no flowers?

Trying new things is part of the joy of gardening. It can be fun to venture outside the box a bit! How about some edibles or herbs mixed into your flower containers this year? If you’re reluctant to try completely new plants, there are often new varieties and colors of your old familiar favorites, or similar (but not too scary) companion plants we can help you locate!

In general, we practice the “Thriller, Filler, Spiller”  design mantra, which means you choose a tall annuals for the center or back of your pot (thriller), medium sized branching annuals for the center (filler), and cascading, vining annuals to spill over the side of the pot (spiller). 

Just because you put annuals in containers doesn’t mean you can’t sneak a gorgeous perennial in there too, and then just plant the perennial in your landscape at the end of the season!

Summer annual flower container blog post from Schonheit Gardens in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin near Madison.

IN THE GROUND

I discovered putting annuals in the ground by accident! I purchased more annuals than fit in my containers (oops!) so I popped them in my garden beds. Now I always put them in my beds! I like to use annuals as a front border and I also place them between gaps in some of some of my perennial beds. Some of the perennials may be done blooming or won’t bloom until later in the season so it can be nice to have the annuals providing all-season color. Do remember to water your in-ground annuals as you water your potted annuals!

Summer annual flower container blog post from Schonheit Gardens in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin near Madison.

A NOTE ABOUT POTTING SOIL

To have successful plants, in addition to the considerations above, you need good soil. For many years, I went with cheaper soil for my containers. The results were “concrete” in my pots. To make up for the lousy-but-cheap soil, I would buy perlite and peat to mix into the cheap stuff…suddenly the cheap soil didn’t turn out to be cheap, and it was also labor intensive! I might be biased, though I’ve heard customers same this same thing, Schönheit Gardens has THE BEST quality and value potting soil for your containers. It is truly lovely stuff you can feel, see, and smell the difference, and our plants flourish. It’s worth it for you and your plants.

We’re simply nuts about plants here at Schönheit Gardens. Our plants, your plants, plants in general! We look forward to helping you choose or answer questions about your annual plant purchases; see you soon!

Summer annual flower container blog post from Schonheit Gardens in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin near Madison.

Need more inspiration? Click to our photo galleries for some amazingly creative ideas!

—Laurie Robertson is an avid gardener, nature lover, mom, and Schonheit Gardens “nursery gal.”