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MY TOP 10 WINTER ANNUALS
Alas! I think I felt a cool breeze this morning. Is Fall finally here? We are so lucky in Houston, as our Fall and Winter months are usually very mild. This is actually a great time of year to enjoy the garden with our family and friends. Get your garden gloves on and join me – let’s plant our Fall-Winter color.
Step 1: As always preparation is the key to success. Decide which area you are going to plant your annuals. Remove the mulch, till the existing soil. If your soil is hard, clay or depleted add new soil – as this is the foundation for your plants. Having a bag or two of soil on hand is always vital. Some of my favorite bagged soil are Jungle Land Flowers & Vegetables & Jungle Land Water Wise or for a soil amendment I like to use Natures Best Organic Compost.
Step 2: Choose the correct flowers for your location, paying attention to sun or shade exposure, size, and desired color palette. If you are planting in a far-away location and want the flowers to appear closer – use warm colors such as reds and yellows. If you want to add depth to your garden use cool colors such as pinks, purples and whites. If you are planting in a very small area, it is best to stick to one variety of plant and one color – as this will make a bigger impact. If you have large beds, mix it up – perhaps doing a mixed color tall border in the back and a solid color of a low-growing variety in the front.
Step 3: Dig a hole twice as large as the container, till in Color Star Plus Fertilizer and plant. Make sure that you water-in the plant well as you are planting and plant it approximately 1/2″ – 1″ above the soil. Re-install the mulch being careful as to not suffocate the newly planted flowers with too much mulch atop their roots.
ALYSSUM: Alyssum is one of my favorite Fall-Winter color, even though this plant can freeze if we have a big freezes. Alyssum is low growing, approximately 6”-8″ tall and it comes in White, Pink and Purple. Alyssum is very fragrant and it likes full or partial sun.
VIOLA: The cheerful Viola is not used so much. I love this sweet flower, available in all colors. Violas are a short border plant expected to grow about 6” tall. They do well in full and partial sun and can also take some shade.
SNAPDRAGON: These tall flowers come in many different colors and sizes. From white to yellow, bronze, orange, red, pinks and purples they are a must in our Fall, Winter garden. Montego series are the short dwarf Snap Dragons growing 8-12” tall. Next size up are the Sonnet, Solstice and Snapastic Variety. These grow 15-18” tall. Lastly come the Rocket variety which grow about 18” – 24” tall. All Snapdragons love sun, or partial sun.
BELLIS: This dainty English daisy is very effective in a mass planting. They are available in white, pink and red (looks like dark pink). They are one of the few winter annuals that can do well in shade. These quaint flowers can be used in Sun, partial sun and shade.
PANSY: This staple in the Houston area is tough to beat. Loves the cooler weather, and a freeze will not hurt it. Use as a border or behind Alyssum. This sweet flower comes in an array of color and grows about 8” tall.
DIANTHUS: I am not a big fan of the regular low growing Dianthus. But I love Dianthus Amazon, Dianthus Jolt and Dianthus Sweet William. These hardy annuals make wonderful fragrant cut flowers- The greenery stays low about 8” tall but the flower stems reach about 12-18” high. They do well in full sun or part shade.
Petunia: These pretty cascading flowers come in a variety of colors. The Wave and Mambo series are low growing and very suitable in pots to cascade off the edges. The Madness series cascades some, but grows more upright about 12” tall. Both are suitable for border planting. Petunias will bloom from early Fall through Spring. If the weather freezes they may freeze back some (though I have never witnessed this here), I have noticed they will stop blooming until the weather warms up again.
STOCK: This color is one of the most fragrant flowers to add in our Fall/Winter gardens. The flowers come in lovely shades of Pink, Rose, Lilac, Purple and White. I love using these in pots, or in the landscape as a tall back-ground color. As with most flowers, dead-heading or removing spent blooms always encourages the plant to bloom more. Full sun or half day sun is ideal for this pretty flowers.
POPPIES: These are a wonderful addition to any garden. I love using them amid Pansy, Viola or Alyssum. They seem to cheer up the garden with their pretty flowers. Foliage stays short around 6” tall, but the flower stems rise up to about 12” tall. They are available in an array of color – shades of pink, white, yellow, red and oranges
LOBELIA: This wonderful border annual is lovely. Lobelia is available in many shades of blue, purple, pink, lavender and white. The traditional Lobelia grows similar to Alyssum about 6” tall. However, now there is another variety available called Magadi that grows taller about 12” tall. I love using these in pots, and in borders. I also like adding them with Alyssum to add a pop of blue. Consider using blue plants in yellow planters—this makes a striking contrast. Lobelia does well in sun, part sun and even some shade.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog. As for myself, I am off to get my planting done, as Fall-Winter color is my favorite!! Join me, and send me some pictures of your own masterpieces. Happy Gardening!