Spring-flowering annuals

Spring-flowering annuals, which include Iceland poppy, polyanthus, pansy, viola, sweet peas and more, are planted as seed in autumn or seedlings in winter when many begin to flower. With the arrival of spring, seasonal annuals are available in small pots at garden centres and hardware stores to add instant colour to gardens either planted out into beds or popped into containers.

To grow annuals from seed, start them off in punnets or seed trays using seed raising mix such as Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix. Remember to water them in with Seasol to help with germination rates. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be pricked out and grown in larger containers or planted into prepared areas in the garden. When planting in a pot use a good quality potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix, It has everything in the bag to aid plant establishment. If planting into the ground mix Seasol Super Compost into the soil before planting to revitialise the soil and help promote healthy plant growth.

Use annuals to create splashes of colour and interest in gardens or on balconies. As they come in many shapes, sizes and colours they can be used as decorative highlights for example in an entertaining area or beside the front door, or to accent a colour theme. Some, such as poppies and sweet peas are also grown as cut flowers.

Growing conditions

Aspect Most annuals need a sheltered but sunny location with full sun for most of the day. If they are grown with too much shade, they may fail to flower or become leggy in their growth. In shaded spots look for shade lovers such as primula and cineraria.

Soil Annuals grow in a wide range of soils but do best in soil enriched with organic matter such as compost before planting or for a no-dig option use Seasol Liquid Compost. Annuals also need good drainage.

Climate There are spring-flowering annuals to grow in all climates. In tropical, subtropical and frost-free zones traditional spring-flowering annuals such as those listed above flower, well through winter. Summer annuals such as petunia, calibrachoa, marigolds and impatiens will flower and grow well in spring, which marks the end of the dry season in many of these areas.

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General care

Watering Adequate and regular watering is important especially in spring as conditions warm and where plants are in containers – especially in hanging baskets. As the temperature increases, check pots and hanging baskets daily and if it’s extremely hot, check early morning and late in the afternoon. If water is running off or pooling on top of the soil or potting mix, then it could be hydrophobic (that is, repelling water).  Apply a soil wetter such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner. It will help to get the water down to the plant’s root zone.

Feeding and mulching Apply a granular fertiliser such Seasol plus Nutrient Roses & Flowers for flowering plants every 6 to 8 weeks. Keep plants flowering by regularly feeding with liquid fertilizer such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers or PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives every 2 to 4 weeks.

Spread mulch such as lucerne, sugar cane or straw around plantings to deter weed competition.

Pruning Deadhead annuals as each flush of flowers finishes to encourage a new spurt of growth. Don’t expect annuals to go on forever (although some will flower for many seasons). If annuals look tatty, dieback or if flowering slows, take them out to make way for another seasonal display.

Watch for Generally annuals are unaffected by pests however watch out for snails and slugs that may attack all growth but especially seedlings. Remove snails as they appear or use an environmental-friendly method such as eggshells, wood shavings or a non-toxic, iron based snail and slug pellets. If annuals are affected by pests apply EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray to both sides of the foliage and repeat 14 days later if needed.