Combine Annuals and Perennials this Spring Combine Annuals and Perennials this Spring

The goal of any flower gardener is to always have blooms showing in the garden throughout the growing season. Nothing is more disappointing to a gardener than to have periods throughout the season when only green foliage is showing. To overcome this problem, you need to combine both annuals and perennials in your garden area.

In mid-Michigan, the growing season begins in late March to very early April. At this time, crocus, hyacinth, and daffodils begin to bloom, followed shortly afterwards with tulips. As Michigan is in zone 8, it is evident even in this colder climate that your garden is blessed with color. The beauty of these perennials is that they will return year after year, and require little maintenance. Daffodils are especially pretty in the flower garden, and through a little planting will bloom from early to late spring. Plant daffodils in early September while the ground is still warm and the bulb can establish a good root base. From the first planting of daffodils, you will almost be guaranteed blooms throughout spring year after year. Some of the favorite early varieties of daffodil include a bright yellow, named "Dutch Master" and a pure white variety named "Mount Hood." Good mid-spring daffodils are the creamy white "Ice Follies" and the bright yellow "Carlton." For late spring bloomers, look for "Quail" which is a fragrant hybrid jonquil in soft golden yellow colors. Consider also, the "Actanea" which is a yellow cup that is rimmed in red.

Tulips are another perennial that people think of in early spring. The most recognizable, the "Darwin", is a splendid flower that blooms mid season. Coming in many colors, it is a garden favorite. Bulbs are planted in late fall, usually October or November as long as ground is workable. Tulips, though easy to grow, need to be replaced every few years, as they diminish in size and length of bloom. Generally, they are good for at the most three years before they need to be replaced. The varieties are endless, and give you blooms up until late spring.

Seed can now be sown for blooms into midsummer and late summer. Generally, these annuals will be planted 6 to 10 weeks before the last frost of the season. Check for varieties of different heights so that all blooms can be displayed equally. Asters, four o'clocks, carnations and cosmos are good choices. If you wish a very tall flowering plant near a fence or porch railing where they can be supported, consider the old favorite hollyhock. They come in a variety of colors, and will last for years after first established. Hollyhocks will self seed for the next growing season.

When tulips and daffodils are almost done blooming, it is time to set out annuals that will beautify the garden. This is the time when annuals and perennials are combined to provide ongoing blooms. All danger of frost must be gone to proceed. Bedding plants such as impatiens, petunias and snapdragons can be set out now, and will bloom into the early summer. Pansies are especially hardy, come in a variety of colors, and bloom for long periods.

For late summer blooms, consider mums. They are perennials but are usually treated as an annual. Plant in very early spring for late summer blooms. Pinch off any bud growth during summer months to prolong the season. Choose verbena salvia, nicotiana or heliotrope to weave amongst the perennials in your garden for late summer splash of color.

Fall blooming plants to consider are sunflower, chrysanthemum, autumn aster, and sedum. Sedum will bloom with its pretty pink buds up until the first frost.

Lastly, always plant daisies in your flower garden. There are over 20,000 varieties of daisies, and they grow on every country on earth. They are hardy, tolerate dry soil, and different varieties will bloom from very early spring until late fall. This garden favorite is always a welcome sight in any flower garden.

With a little research and planning, you can combine perennials and annuals for beautiful blooms in your flower garden all through the growing season. There are flowers that will grow in every hardiness zone, and if you live in warmer climates, you can enjoy your flower garden even more than northern folks can.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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