Back to ComPortOne Midwest Gardening Flowers - Annuals & Perennials

An annual is a plant that completes its entire life cycle in one season. They grow quickly and bloom profusely creating flower beds of beautiful colors. Because its means of reproducing itself is primarily from seeds, an annual makes as many seed-producing flowers as it can. If you pick the flowers, even more will come (one reason why annuals are ideal flowers to grow for cutting.)

Remember to plant your flowers outside only after the danger of frost has past. Some flowers may be perennials that will survive if taken inside. They cannot tolerate the extreme cold that we esperience in the Midwest if left outside so bring them in before the first frost in the fall.

A perennial is a plant that does not die with the end of the season but renews itself each year. They are a welcome and beautiful sign of spring. Most do not bloom for more than a few weeks. People who want season-long color intersperse their perennials with annuals. Perennials are not the lazy man's solution, they still require work. They must be weeded and maintained to achieve their potential.

Plants add value and aesthetic appeal to every property. As a landlord, consider giving a tenant an allowance to buy flowers to plant and brighten up their home and your investment.

Portulaca, aka. Moss Roses - Multi-colored, bright flowers that open in the morning and close at night. Self- sowing. Needs a warm, sunny, well-drained exposure. Tolerates hot, dry, poor soil. Great at the base of mailboxes.

Straw Flowers - Colorful, stiff blooms with lots of green leaves. Absolutely gorgeous. Hard to find for planting. Often used in planters and arrangements. Tolerates hot, dry, poor soil. Another winner for the base of mailboxes.

Marigolds - Yellow, orange, red or even bi-colored flowers. Pungent odor. Various sizes. Can be in full sun. Grows bushy quickly. Tolerant of drought.

Pansies - Can be perennials. Many colors. Can wilt in hot weather but perk up when weather cools. Pick for more compact plants and profuse blooms.

Geraniums - Perennial. Large flower clusters - red, salmon, pink, orange, or white. Can be grown from cuttings. Some are scented. Very popular. Intense heat can kill them. Like full sun but can take a little shade in hot areas.

Impatiens - Shade or sun. Upright or low and sprawling. Vibrant colors. Good container plant. Requires full sun to bring out color in foliage. Likes cool and moist soil but cannot tolerate frost. Can be grown from cuttings.

Nasturtium - Easy to grow. Many colors. Full sun. Dry, sandy, infertile soil. Over watering or fertilizing results in a multitude of leaves and few flowers.

Petunia - Newer ones are disease resistant. Come in many shapes and sizes. Unlimited colors. Can be decimated by heavy rainstorms. Trailing ones are great for pots, planters, and boxes. Wither in hot weather.

Snapdragon - Perennial. Many colors. Cool-weather plants. Like full sun. Will thrive in light shade with fewer blooms. Like fertile, slightly-alkaline soil. Cutting the flowers helps to keep them blooming.

Wax Begonia - Perennial. Covered with large clumps of flowers all summer long. Pink, red, or white flowers. Light shade is ideal.

Zinnia - Annuals. All colors except blue. Grow tall 12" to 3' but doesn't need staking. Prone to mildew. Makes excellent cut flowers.

Connie Eccles
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