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A hard frost will kill off our annuals for good, but there are tricks we can try to get more treats from our annual purchases.

Cuttings of ivy geranium, (Pelargonium peltatum).

Many gardeners spend a lot of money each spring on annuals because they provide continuous colorful blooms in pots and beds from late spring into fall. If one has only perennials in the garden, it’s harder to get perfect continuity of color.

Typically, perennials only bloom for a few weeks at a time so there needs to be a succession of overlapping blooming perennials across the entire growing season. That means having many different perennial plants in the yard. So most flower gardeners, even if they specialize in perennial plants, supplement with a few annuals to boost the amount of color.

Of course as fall comes, we know that a hard frost will kill off our annuals for good.  However, there are few tricks we can try in order to get a bit more mileage from our annuals.

  • For example, one can cut slips of annuals such as coleus and dragon’s wing begonia. Strip the lower leaves and place them in a glass container of water, (so you can monitor the water level), on a window sill or where there is light. The water roots will form and next spring you can plant the slips in soil.
  • Or, instead of pulling the annuals out of your pots, you can simply crush the whole plants back down into the container and cover with a light layer of potting soil. Put the pots in a protected spot, and next spring water them well and some of the seeds may germinate and provide you with new plants. In years when there is a mild winter a lot will return if you are lucky. It is certainly worth a try.
Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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