Choosing Annual Flowers for the Lower Mainland Skip to main content
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Choosing Annual Flowers for the Lower Mainland

Why the best gardens have annuals in them, how to choose them and some of our favourite types!

Planting annual flowers throughout the spring, summer, and fall keeps your gardens looking fresh and bursting with colour.

But you might not know exactly where to start, which flowers to choose, or how to plant them best.

Here are some tips from the team at Vandenberg Maintenance to help you decide which annuals to plant, how to plant them, how to care for them and some of our favourites!

flowers in basket

Are annual flowers really worth planting?

We answer this question with an emphatic “yes!” Obviously, we’re a bit biased, but the best gardens have a healthy mix of annuals alongside perennials, shrubs and ornamental trees.

If you’re not familiar, annuals are flowers or plants that complete their entire life cycle within a single season. Whether planted in the late spring, summer or fall, annuals are usually exhausted and die off once the frost hits. Then they get replaced the next year!

But the best part about annuals is that they continuously bloom once established.

Since perennials and trees only bloom for 1–4 weeks in the spring or summer, planting annuals gives you new colours and blooms in your garden throughout the growing season. Not to mention it helps fill in the bare spaces in your garden beds so they look full and beautiful.

How do I choose annuals for my garden?

There are so many options, which can feel a bit overwhelming, but here are some suggestions to help you make your choices.

  • Look at the existing structure of your garden beds, including what perennials you have and when they’ll be blooming. — Planting your annuals is a lot like painting a picture… the sky is the limit for unique designs. Plus, annuals tend to be less expensive than perennials! (Want to know more about perennials? We’ve written about them at length here!)
  • The sun and shade exposure of your gardens — Choose the right plant for the right conditions. Some flowers thrive in the sun, while others need shade to reach their potential. Find out if what you want to plant likes a little shade or needs sun all day. Then, plan (and plant!) accordingly!
  • Note the hardiness zone your property is located in. — Hardiness zones are geographic areas, divided by climate, that help determine which plants grow best in any given location. These zones determine if a plant can survive the winter. Here in the Lower Mainland, we’re around zone 8, which means annuals go in the ground once we have consistent night temperatures of 10°C or higher and will stay in until the first frost. Once the frost comes, the annuals come out and the bulbs go in!
  • The availability of flowers at your local garden centre or nursery. — This one is a given, but when you’re browsing for annuals be sure to talk to the staff wherever you buy your flowers, they’re likely very passionate about them! (By the way, we just opened a garden centre in Chilliwack where you can pick up annuals, perennials and more!)

What are some of your favourite annuals?

Me? I love petunias (which you’ll see a lot of on our Instagram feed!) because they trail so well and can fill a planter easily. They also come in so many colours and offer loads and loads of blooms all summer!

Another favourite is coleus, which comes in sun-loving and shade-loving varieties and many, many leaf colours! Clients of ours will be seeing more of these this year.

And one more — begonias! These bright flowers do well in the shade and we have a lot of clients with shady yards, so they’re a natural fit.

One note: There are some annuals that are better for certain seasons. Be sure to read seed packets or plant tabs to ensure you’re planting what’s best for the season — and double-check your hardiness zone! Hardier plants will survive in cooler temperatures, but might wilt once the summer heat hits.

If you want more ideas, once again I encourage you to go and walk the aisles of your local garden centre!

flowers

What’s the best way to plant my annuals?

Planting is fairly simple, but there’s more to it than just sticking plants in the ground. Make sure the last frost has come and gone before you plant yours. The beginning of May is usually safe for our region.

Here are some planting best practices:

  • Prep the soil. — A successful bed always had good soil so the annuals can thrive. They usually do best in loose, well-draining soil, so take care to till and amend the soil. If your soil hasn’t been composted, we recommend adding a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Lay out your plants before planting. — This small step can be the difference between a gorgeous garden and total chaos! One helpful rule is the “thriller, filler, spiller" rule. The thriller is a tall plant placed in the center — the focal point of the bed or pot. The filler is used around the thriller fill out the flower bed or pot. The spiller, especially in a pot, is placed lower to the ground so that it can “spill” over the side of the pot or the edge of the bed.
  • Space out your plants. — Typically, we plant our annuals 6–8 inches apart, which is closer than many would recommend, but we aim for a very full bed quickly. Always read the tags that come with your annuals for recommended spacing.
  • Don’t plant too deep. — If you plant too deep, your stems can rot later in the season. Dig a hole slightly deeper than the annuals roots, the put your plant in and carefully pat down soil around the roots. Easy does it!
  • Plant when it’s less sunny. — If possible, it’s best to plant on a cloudy or overcast day or later in the afternoon or evening to reduce shock in your new annuals! Shocked plants may not establish… and in some cases, they may even die.
  • Add some mulch… and water! — Once you’re done planting, cover the soil with a few inches mulch and give everything a good watering. The mulch is optional, but it will give your garden a more “finished” look while preventing weed growth and keeping your soil moist.
  • Remove dead/spent blooms. — Called “deadheading,” this entails snapping or cutting off dead flowers from an annual. This makes the plant redirect its energy back to producing more flowers instead of going to seed!

And of course…make sure you keep watering them and pulling out the weeds once you see them appear!

If you’d prefer to leave the design, planting, and care of your annuals to the experts, Vandenberg Maintenance’s team is happy to help! To find out more and request a quote, head on over to vandenbergmaintenance.com.

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