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Cool Season Annuals

My spring garden always looks so bare. I know that pansies and violas will bloom during the cool months but isn’t there anything else I can plant?

Spring is one of my favorite times in the garden. Everything is fresh and full of expectation. There is a minimal amount of weeds and pests to deal with and blooms on a spring day can be so enchanting.

Of course the first thing that comes to mind when talking about this season’s blooms are bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. No spring garden is complete without them. That being said, it is important to plant cool season annuals as a compliment to your spring bulbs. Not only does this add even more color to your beds, but a dense planting of annuals will hide the often unattractive foliage of the bulbs after their flowers have faded.

As soon as the soil is workable and I am fairly sure that temperatures will not fall below freezing I head out to my local garden center to pick up a few of my annual favorites for adding color to my early spring garden. Check with your local garden center for the best planting time for you. And if you live in an area of the country were summer temperatures are cool, some of these plants will continue to thrive until fall if planted where they will get morning sun and afternoon shade.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite cool season annuals.
Violas – Violas are heavy bloomers with tons of small flowers. Use in containers and border edgings. Violas are both cold hardy and heat tolerant. In the Northeast and parts of the Northwest this little workhorse has been known to bloom year-round. In these areas plant in full sun during the cold months and partial shade during summer. In the South, you can count on violas to provide abundant blooms from fall to late spring.

Pansy – The pansy is the larger faced cousin of the viola. I like to plant these two annuals together in containers and as a border edging.

Snapdragon – Available in both upright and cascading forms, snapdragons are the perfect choice for both flower borders and containers. Plant in full sun in early spring. Will tolerate temperatures down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Argyranthemum – This daisy shaped bloom is cold hardy down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it perfect for unpredicted spring freezes. I’ve seen this plant bloom in December in Southern gardens were winters are mild. You can also count on this tough plant to reward you with blooms well into the summer. Plant in full sun.

Helichrysum ‘Silver Spike’ – ‘Silver Spike’s’ silvery, spiky foliage is an excellent complement adding texture and silver contrasts to beds and containers. This plant will tolerate a light frost. Plant in full sun.