By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
What’s an annual – Colorful flowers we plant for seasonal color are primarily annuals. These plants last for one season only. There’s a reason for that. Because they bloom so heavily, and give their all for a glorious, colorful show, they’re done by the end of the season. The Arizona Mountains seasons for annuals overlap, but generally, there are “cool-season” annuals for October into April, spring annuals that flower April through June, and summer annuals for the hot months of July – October.
Top cool-season annual flowers are pansy, viola, stock, poppy, primrose and snapdragon. Favorites for spring are calibrachoa, lobelia, alyssum, petunia, geraniums, diascia and nemesia. For hot summer annuals, plant vinca, pentas, sunflower, cosmos and zinnia.
What’s a perennial – perennials are plants that bloom for a shorter period of time (usually up to six weeks) then go into a resting period for the rest of the year. However, each year they reappear to bloom, usually on larger and larger plants, giving an increased flower show each year. Chrysanthemum is a popular example.
There are some very long-blooming perennials for gardens, such as Autumn Sage, Gaillardia and Echinacea that blooms most of the growing season, as do Spanish and Fernleaf lavenders, and carpet roses.
If planned correctly, you can have perennials blooming every month of the year, including mid-winter.
I’ll see you at Watters Garden Center with all those Annuals & Perennials.