Today we’re going to be talking about some warm-season annuals that can be planted now in the southern part of the state, and what we need. Today we’re going to be talking about some warm-season annuals that can be planted now in the southern part of the state, and what we need to do is get some of those beds ready.
So the first thing we want to look at is our petunia. And petunias are a warm season annual that does have a fairly good cold tolerance. And petunias, when they’re coming straight out, or any plant that’s coming straight out of a greenhouse environment, is pretty succulent and warm. So it’s going to need to have a little bit of protection if we do have a 30-degree night or a 32-degree night. And we’ll talk about some protection methods.
But petunia’s do have good cold tolerance and will do quite well. This is one of the low growing, more groundcover type. If it’s grown in an overhead container, it will grow out kind of flat out of the container. But petunias are an excellent plant. A lot of different color variation in. So petunias are another good one. In the warm part of the state here, we do have these abnormally warm temperatures that are going on right now. And if you’ve lived here very long, you know these weeks we do have.
Alyssum is another one that’s really good. It is a ground cover. Little tiny flowers. You get them in a lot of different colors. White is probably one of the most common, but there are a lot of different colors available. Very low growing. This is a self-seeder. Once you start with alyssum, then you’ve pretty much got it forever. It just kind of keeps reseeding itself. And good, low-growing ground cover to use. So alyssum would be another good one.
One that a lot of people probably aren’t really familiar with is nasturtiums. And nasturtiums have kind of an orangey-red flower on them. You can get a little variation in color on them. They have these leaves that kind of come upon upright petioles. And they’ll fill with color. And they do pretty well in our climate, more in a partial shade situation than the real hot full sun locations. Again, nasturtiums.
A couple other plants that you might want to look at to give a little different color, rather than a bright color, some of the grays quite well, especially in a desert environment. And this one is called Artemesia silver mound. And this little thing doesn’t look like much, but it will grow into a fairly good sized mound, somewhere about 12 to 18 inches in diameter and in height. So this is a good time to get that started. And again, be sure and give it plenty of room to fill in. But that’ll give you a little gray color for the spring garden.
And another one that’s a good one is the dusty miller. This one has the gray foliage on it. And it will form some bright yellow flowers on it, kind of a golden yellow. So it is quite colorful. And again, the gray foliage contrasts quite well with some of the dark green foliage of maybe some of the surrounding plants. So this is another one that we want to get started.
One of the most important things on an annual bed to get the soil prepared well. So we want to add organic matter, somewhere around 50to 100 pounds of organic matter per 100 square feet of area. So we’re going to be putting in on about two inches thick and then working it into the soil to about a 10-inch depth. So work it in real good and then your bed will be prepared.
As we mentioned, the possibility of frost in the area, if you have not used a material like this, this goes under several different names– , row cover, floating row cover. It has a lot of different names– frost blanket. But this is just a very, very lightweight spun material that is put over the top of plants when we’re expecting cold temperatures. It’ll give you somewhere around
5 to 7 degrees protection.
As you can see, you can see my fingers through it. It’s fairly lightweight. You can actually water on top of it and the water goes right through it. It is breathable, so it doesn’t overheat underneath the material. But this is really a material I’d like to see used more often. So again, this is called row cover or a frost blanket. And you can buy it in varying widths and lengths, and you just put it over the plants, kind of seal the edges on it, and then you can water through it or you can lift it each day. Leave it on at night, pull it off during the day. So this is an excellent Material.
Some of our annuals, as their flowers begin to fade, if you can pinch some of them off, that will help keep the plant flowering and keeping them healthy. Sometimes they get a little leggy. And so if you keep them pinched, keep the old flowers deadheaded and taken out of it, then the plant will do much better.
We won’t look at fertilizing on probably about a three to four-week schedule. Just a light amount of fertilizer. And can either be a dry or a liquid material. It does need to be watered in right away. And that will also help the annuals to keep going. Because if you aren’t taking care of them well, they’ll get a little leg and spindly. So some of those tips will help keep them going. So again, start thinking and get started on a spring flower garden.