There are few things more exciting for a gardener than the arrival of spring. As the frost dissipates and the soil warms, it comes time to plant your annuals. Whether you prefer petunias or marigolds--or anything in between--you likely want to know how to get the most out of your annual garden.
Planting annuals takes a lot of care and planning. You will want to know how to set them up to succeed, and provide you with color and vibrancy for the entire season. This is especially true in unpredictable climates such as Colorado. So, let’s talk about planting annuals for success!
When to Plant.
Knowing when to plant is the first major hurdle when it comes to setting your garden up for success. It can be tempting to begin planting at the first sign of sunshine in the early spring--this may be a costly mistake!
You always want to ensure that the frost has dissipated for the year, and the soil is dry enough to be workable. One way to tell this is to dig up some soil and break it up in your hands. If it crumbles, it’s good! If it’s sticky, it’s too wet.
Once the frost has left for the year, and your soil is dry enough, then you can begin planting! For Colorado this is generally late April - early May.
Preparing the Soil.
The soil is perhaps the most crucial component to setting your annuals up for success. This is because the soil is going to provide a stable ‘home’ for the annuals, as well as the vessel for nutrient delivery. So you want to prepare it properly!
Till the soil.
The first step to preparing the soil is to till it. You want to break up the larger chunks, make sure the oil is free of rocks and debris, and make sure it is airy and tilled to the proper consistency for your preferred annual plants and flowers. While tilling your soil it is also a good idea to test the pH balance of the earth. Annuals prefer a pH level of around 6.3 - 6.7. When necessary adjust the soil composition to meet these levels.
Add the nutrients.
It’s always a good idea to add in a bit of peat moss or compost to the soil when tilling it. This organic matter will provide much needed nutrients and structure to the plant when it begins to take root in it’s new home. Never neglect the proper soil amendments!
Water is going to be a crucial part of how your plants grow and thrive. Too little, and they will wilt and die. Too much and they won’t last long either. Make sure that your soil is properly tilled to allow for healthy water irrigation throughout the soil, and if necessary provide a place for excess water runoff away from your garden.
Colorado provides one of the most naturally beautiful landscapes to plant your garden. But, knowing how to set it all up for success is going to take time and quite a bit of practice. Remember to be patient and take the time to properly prepare the environment before introducing any annuals this planting season!