Planting Annuals Right

This cell pack of petunias is just coming into bloom. Plants in bud or just coming into bloom are the best ones to buy.

The petunia in the cell pack has its roots circling the soil. Don’t plant this way if you want maximum results.

The best way to plant annuals like these petunias is to break the soil where the roots can easily grow out of their circular growing habit.

At planting time, it is easy to buy more than we have time to plant. So, many of us just stuff the plants into pots or in bed without giving much thought to maximizing their growth. But three things I think are important in planting annuals for maximum show. First is good soil perparation. Whether you are planting in a container or in a bed prepare the soil well, making sure it drains well, has a good portion of organic matter and is workable to the bottom of the pot or at least 6 inches deep in bed. While 6 inches is okay, the deeper the better. If prepared 8-10 inches deep, the quality of growth is much better. Second is buying quality plants. It is so easy to buy the plant that has the most blooms. What that means to me is that the plant has almost finished the first blooming cycle. I like to buy plants in bud or that have a bloom or two open. This will help the plants become established and still keep blooming. And third, is planting them correctly. Knock the plant out of the cell pack or pot and check the roots. If they are dense and circling the pot, you need to break it out of their circular motion like I did with the petunia shown above.
This, along with watering well at planting and regularly, good regular fertilization, grooming as needed and proper sun/shade requirements will produce beautiful annuals all summer long

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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