Annual Plants

You are in the section dedicated to annual plants. Annuals are plants that "are born, grow, bloom, fructify and die" within a year. The period between germination (birth) and death is called the vegetative season. Most of the annual plants typical of temperate climates, germinate in early spring, bloom in summer, and die with the arrival of the first cold in autumn. Discover the main cultivation features and techniques annual plants by consulting our tabs below!
If instead you want to see a summary card with Name, Height, or Portamento, Dominant colors, Flowering Period, Soil, and Display of some annual plants chosen by our editorial staff, consult the annual report.
In this section you will find all the information to grow annual plants in your gardens. For annual plants we consider all those species that have a life cycle of one year; after being sown, they grow rapidly and reach sexual maturity, they bloom and bear fruit in the same season and, once their annual cycle has ended, they die.
If you think about it our garden is full of annual plants: the dandelion growing in the meadow, the chicory or the cornflower, so common in the ditches of the countryside, the dreaded ambrosia, to which we are now almost all allergic, and finally all the species grown in our garden (or at least almost all, artichokes for example no). Surely the careful gardener includes a large number of annual plants in his flowered projects, because their blooms are among the most beautiful of the whole vegetable kingdom. The downside is the greater commitment and cost involved in their use: an annual flowerbed must be continuously renewed from season to season, and sometimes we find ourselves having to replace the species we planted in the spring with those that have a autumn / winter flowering.
Annuals are also ideal for decorating vases. The rapid and luxuriant growth allows to get rich blooms in a few weeks. Surfinia and plectrantus decorate balconies and low walls with cascades of over one meter in length, bringing green and color where until recently there was nothing. The summer annuals are considered summer annuals all the annual species that bloom in spring-summer; usually these plants are removed in autumn to make room for the winter annuals, this alternation allows us to always have some color in our garden.
You can sow these plants yourself, in seedbeds or in the ground according to their needs; protected cultivation allows choosing the right time for transplanting, when winter is far away and there is no risk of sudden drops in temperature. Usually April 25 is the date taken as a reference for a safe transplant even in the areas of Northern Italy.
Important to choose the right exposure: begonias, bidens, verbena, petunia, delphinio and sunflower are examples of annuals that prefer sunny areas; lobelia, coleo, dicentra, impatiens, new guinea are on the other hand sciafile plants and will bloom in the shady and cool areas.
The winter annuals bloom in autumn-winter, do not have a particularly vigorous growth, but have the advantage of resisting to low winter temperatures. This subset of annual plants does not include many specimens. The viola, the cyclamen, some varieties of ornamental cabbage and heather and other species that we consider as winter annuals, like the hellebore, even if in reality they are perennial herbaceous plants that have the advantage of being luxuriant in winter.
Designing a flower bed that gives color to winter is not a simple task and an experienced gardener also makes use of perennial species such as heather carnea, nandina fire power, penisia and others.
The country meadows and the woods are enriched by the colors of spontaneous herbaceous species that we can classify as annual plants: the dandelion, the thistle, the poppy, the chicory, the nettle, the saponaria and many others. Some of them have bulbs that resist from year to year, but most of them do not survive the winter and recur in the same areas due to the spontaneous dissemination of the seeds.
Their uses in the garden are mainly two:
- to enrich rustic meadows, sprinkle the seeds of these plants at the beginning of spring, when temperatures are ideal for germination. To fully enjoy the flowers, the lawn must always be kept at a minimum height of 30 cm, to leave the right space for development to the stems. This type of lawn is suitable for non-walkable areas, perhaps located on shores and slopes, difficult to reach by grass mowers.
- In beds of aromatic herbs. Many of these species are edible and have healing properties: dandelion and chicory are consumed in salads, thistle and chamomile are natural remedies for stomach disorders and stress. Cultivating flower beds with wild species near the vegetable garden and aromatic is a reserve of useful herbs and offers beautiful summer blooms.
the main characteristics of the annuals are rapid growth and copious flowering. These plants will therefore need abundant nutrients and water, because the transition from seed to maximum development takes place in a very short time. To form leaves, stems and flowers, starches are required which require the assimilation of mineral salts and photosynthetic processes.
Fertilization with products with rapid assimilation is necessary, that is products that contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other elements in a form readily assimilable by the plants. Usually the fertilizers that satisfy these characteristics are the liquid ones. Fertilizers such as ox blood and borage contain a high concentration of nitrogen with a fairly rapid action. There are also preparations with amino acids and biostimulants that perfectly integrate nutritional deficiencies. The general advice is to irrigate twice a month with liquid fertilizer as an alternative to water and to use culture soils enriched with organic substances that release salts slowly; in this way you will have a very effective combined action.
Do not exceed with dosages of liquid fertilizers so as not to "burn" the plant, or create an excess of salinity in the circulating solution, a danger that occurs mainly inside the pots.
In summer, do not irrigate during the hot hours of the day and if possible do not use the saucers in the sunniest exposures, the water overheating risks cooking the roots.
Consult the individual plant data sheets to learn about the particular water and nutrient needs of each species.