By Mrs. Paul A. Kane
Annuals are plants grown from seed which bloom,
produce seed and then die within one year. A classic example
is the zinnia.
Annuals may be divided into several classifications:
hardy, half-hardy and tender. To the hardy classification we add
the biennials which we treat as hardy annuals in this section
of the country.
Hardy annuals should be planted in early fall (October), since
many of them require cold for best germination. Half-hardy annuals
are best started in boxes and then transplanted about March. Tender
annuals should not be planted until the weather is settled and
the nights are warm enough to keep the seed from rotting. This
is toward the end of March or the first two weeks in April.
Soil for annuals should be rich in humus, loose in texture and
well drained. A good proportion would be one-third each of peat
moss or vermiculite, washed sand and good garden loam. Any well
balanced or complete fertilizer may be used in the beds but it
should be mixed in several weeks ahead of planting and then watered
down, otherwise it may burn the tender roots.
Very fine seeds should be lightly pressed into the potting mix,
larger seed may be covered lightly. More seed is lost by planting
toodeeply than any other cause. Firm all seed by pressing with
a small block of wood or the palm of the hand, then water lightly.
Keep moist until germination is well established and then water
enough to keep the seedlings from drying out. This may mean watering
twice a day in very hot weather but if the seed is allowed to
dry out it will not germinate. Keep a watch for snails and pill
Hardy annuals which may be sown where they are to bloom are
Planting time: October through January.
Flax (Linum, all colors, perennial but may be treated as annual)
Globe Amaranth (Bachelor's Button)
Hunnemannia (Sunlight Poppy)
*Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
Poppies (All types, except Oriental)
*Indicates those that will succeed in light shade. Most hardy
Half-hardy annuals that are best started indoors in boxes and
transplanted when weather is
settled (usually early April in San Antonio).
Arctotis (Blue-eyed Daisy)
Ricinus (Castor oil bean)
Salvia (red) Tagetes (Marigolds)
*Torenia (Wishbone flower), one of the best annuals for shade.
Vinca (Periwinkle) (Slow to germinate).
Pansies and violas while perfectly hardy must be started in August
in flats or pots and transplanted later when weather is cool.
Ants will carry off the seed so dust with chlordane. Unless special
variety is desired it is best to leave the growing of these to
your favorite nurseryman.
Tender annuals will be damaged by the lightest frost or strong
winds and should generally be planted after the first of April.
If started indoors do not begin too early or the plants will be
leggy before the weather is suitable outside.
Amaranthus, including Cockscomb, Princess Feather,
*Balsam (Lady's Slipper)
Canary Bird Flower
All annuals will need to be watered regularly. Twice a week in
dry weather, less often if there is a rainy season. A balanced
fertilized may be applied and lightly cultivated in. Follow directions
explicitly, whenever using fertilizers or chemicals.