How To Fertilize Annual Flowers

·  Page 1
This article will teach you how to fertilize annual plants.
by Beth Steele · All Zones · Fertilizing · 0 Comments · June 14, 2010 · 18,664 views

Annual bedding plants, such as begonias and pansies, are those which are useful to provide seasonal splashes of vibrant color throughout the landscape. Theyre called "annuals" because they last only for one year, or one season. Annuals are most often planted outdoors in prepared flower beds or containers (container gardens). Annuals are popular because they provide gardeners a way to change up the look of the landscape from one season to another.

In the south, there are two basic seasons for annual flowers: the "warm season", and the "cool season". During the spring and summer, there are literally hundreds of warm season annual plant varieties to choose from at your local nursery. Among these are begonias, geraniums, impatiens and salvias, to name a few. When planted and cared for properly, most warm season annuals will bloom from planting time in Spring all the way into late Fall, until the first frost ends their cycle. Once the warm season annuals have completed their cycle, its time to replace them with cool season annuals such as the ever-popular Pansies and their dwarf cousins: the Violas.

Why Fertilize Annual Plants?

The two primary reasons for fertilizing annuals are to encourage growth, and create a healthy, vigorous, attractive plant that will produce an abundance of flowers. But be careful! There is often a temptation to over-fertilize in the hopes of producing more blooms, faster. If you force an annual plant beyond its natural growth rate by over-fertilizing, you might end up with mostly foliage and no blooms. Too, over-fertilization can predispose the plant to insect or disease infestation, and reduce tolerance to drought or temperature extremes.

Evaluate Soil Conditions

Theres usually not a need to perform a soil test before planting annual flowers, however, professional seasonal color installers might do so as their livelihood depends on guaranteeing spectacular flower beds for their customers. If a new annual flower bed is prepared properly, or an existing one refurbished between the seasonal rotations, fertilization methods are quite simple.

Fertilizing Annual Bedding Plants in Flower Beds


Before fertilizing annual bedding plants, you need to make sure that the soil beds you intend to plant have been properly prepared. Without a suitable planting bed, you will never get satisfactory performance from your annual bedding plants. Unlike many ornamental shrubs, which grow well in lightly ammended native soil, most annual bedding plants require and prefer exceptionally well-drained, lighter soil. Consistently wet soil can lead to root rot and other damaging diseases. To provide optimum growing conditions, it is best to build a "raised" or "mounded" flower bed.

Fertilizing annuals in beds: In the absence of a soil test, dont worry too much. There are many flower foods available at your local nursery and garden center designed specifically for use on outdoor annual flower beds. There are two basic types of fertilizer for annual bedding plants:

  • Granual Fertilizers - For season-long feeding, fertilize at time of planting with a slow-release, granular or capsule-type flower food that will last for the entire season. Some granular fertilizers will slowly release over a 4 to 6 week period of time. These will need to be applied accordingly.
  • Water Soluble/Liquid Fertilizer - If you like feeding your plants on a more regular basis, use a water soluble fertilizer to liquid feed every week or two, or on an as-needed basis. Always follow instructions on product label for application.

Fertilizing Annual Plants In Containers/Pots


When growing annual bedding plants in containers, window boxes or hanging baskets, plant them in a light professional potting mix that will hold water more evenly while also allowing for proper drainage. Avoid using cheap "dollar-a-bag" potting soils. There are two general types of fertilizers to use when growing annual bedding plants in containers:

  • Granular Fertilizers - For season-long feeding, fertilize at time of planting with a slow-release, granular or capsule-type flower food that will last for the entire season. Some granular fertilizers will slowly release over a 4 to 6 week period of time. These will need to be applied accordingly.
  • Water Soluble/Liquid Fertilizer - If you like feeding your plants on a more regular basis, use a water soluble fertilizer to liquid feed every week or two, or on an as-needed basis. Always follow instructions on product label for application.

Additional Fertilization Tips for Annual Plants


  • Be careful not to apply fertilizer too heavily. Doing so may cause the plant tissue to burn, or even result in plant death. Read product labels carefully and follow directions to avoid toxicity problems.
  • If over-fertlilizing your plants is too much a worry to bare, you might consider easing your mind by using a natural or organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are usually made with natural ingredients such as composted manures or other organic matter, and as a result are much less-likely to burn your plants. Ask your local nurseryman about these natural organic alternatives.
  • Avoid using fertilizers that have a high nitrogen (N, first number) content. Too much nitrogen can cause too much foliage growth, and too little flower production. Many annual bedding plants appreciate more phosphorus (P, middle number).
  • As a general rule, the slower the plants habit of growth, the less fertilizer it needs.
  • Plants that are producing an abundance of blooms generally need more fertilizer.
  • If a plant(s) in your garden appears unhealthy or is not actively growing, clip off a stem with leaves and take it to your local nursery. An experienced nurseryman can often help to identify problems or deficiencies and point you in the right direction in regards to fertilizer and nutrient needs.

Buy Annual Food to fertilize Annuals online at Gardener Direct




Updates

View All My Gardenaltiy Updates »