As spring comes to an end, the fear of what summer means for home gardens can cause many to worry. However, by taking advantage of the use of annuals and perennials in flowerbeds, summer does not necessarily mean the end of a good-looking garden.
Sallie Lee, an urban regional Extension agent with Alabama Extension’s Home Grounds, Gardens and Pests team, said, “annuals are those plants usually associated with swapping out plants for fall and winter.”
Annual plants are defined as those that complete a full life cycle in one year. Examples of popular annuals include geraniums, marigolds, petunias and sunflowers. Lee noted that each region of the state has their favorites that are best adapted to the area and best serve the purpose of bridging the time period between summer and winter and winter and spring.
“The timing of transition of the garden to fall and winter conditions is on a different timetable from north to south in Alabama,” said Lee. “Knowing the last frost date in your specific area, or the earliest frost date will influence when the garden moves in the fall and winter mode.”
There’s Still Work to Be Done
“The general recommendation is that summer is normally not the best time to plant,” said Lee.
However, this does not mean that there is no work to be done in the garden during the summer. Since most gardens will not contain only one type of flower, it is important to know the maintenance for what remains blooming during the summer. Perennials, which according to Lee, are typically planted during the spring or fall, are different from annuals because they have a much longer life span.
Examples of perennials are peonies, day lilies and black-eyed susans.
According to Lee the importance of swapping out plants to transition the garden to fall and winter conditions is fairly subjective. Lee also noted that personal preference is key when deciding whether or not to swap out gardens. Some see a greater importance in the activity, while others will simply let the life cycle of their preferred plants dictate the look and feel of the garden.
“Some gardeners let perennials go to seed, leaving material for overwintering insects, birds and other critters to use as food or habitat,” said Lee.
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