Something I do every year to accent our yard is purchase some annuals,
flowers that bloom for one season.
flowers that bloom for one season.
One of the benefits of annuals is that you can change the color scheme yearly for variety or as your tastes change. Another is that they are an inexpensive way to add color to your landscape or patio.
When shopping for annuals, you want to be sure you get your moneys worth. One thing I like to do is look around at the nicer garden shops to see their already put together containers of flowers to get some ideas. Every year I like to do something different with my containers on the porch and find this is an easy, free way to see what's in for the season and find something I like.
Don't run out and buy the first container with the flowers already put together that you see. Typically when you purchase already done containers, you pay a lot more for the whole outfit than you would if you purchased the supplies separately and put them together and you'll get to pick out the container you want to use yourself that you can use year after year.
Once you have an idea of what you want... then set out to go shopping.
Find yourself a container. It's important to do this first so you know how many plants you will need. If you're prone to forgetting to water, look for the self watering containers. They will cost more to start with, but will save you money if you tend to forget about them and have to replant.
If you choose terra cotta, it is a good idea to use a sealer on the inside of the pot to save yourself some watering time. Terra cotta breaths very well... so well that you will be watering all the time. They make sealers for terra cotta, but any spray sealant will do as long as you're not planning to eat anything from the container.
Once you have a container, or several, you can shop for your plants. You need to know where your containers will go when you get home so you can purchase plants that meet the light requirements for the area they will be placed.
When shopping for plants, don't go for the taller plants loaded with blooms! ...opt instead for the shorter plants with lots of buds that are ready to bloom. You will often find the same plants in various stages of growth at the same store, probably due to different shipments or lighting conditions. The taller, more leggy plants with lots of flowers may look great now, but give them a few days and the blooms will be fading and you'll be waiting for more, while the shorter plants getting ready to bloom will do better with the transplant and look great in a few days... plus they have the added benefit of filling in the space you provide as they grow making them look more natural.
You'll want to purchase enough plants that they look nice when you're done, but you also want to be sure the plants have some room to grow. Planting too many in your container will lead to plants that use up the water you give them too quickly and you will find yourself watering all the time, or risk finding dying plants.
It pays to pay attention... literally! Keep in mind too that some store sell a 6 pack of annuals at the same price as the store across the street sells a 4 pack for. When you're shopping at the beginning of the season, it's good to check how each store sells their flowers so you know how many you're getting when you're ready to go flower shopping.
Recently while shopping at Meijer I noticed a beautiful flower arrangement that was $29.99!! I looked closer at it and realized it was cascading petunias with a purple fountain grass in the middle.... it was sooo pretty, but the pot was plastic!
For $7.99 you could get a flat of cascading petunias that would fill 2 pots and the purple fountain grass was $2.99 each. Buying 2 purple fountain grasses and 1 flat of petunias and spending $13.97 I would have $16.02 left to spend on 2 pots! That would be 2 container planters full of flowers for less than the price of one that is pre-done... plus I get to pick the flowers I want. Maybe you'd rather have white cascading flowers and red salvia in the middle for a fourth of July bash.
Soil... Depending on your location, you may be able to mix in some normal garden soil to save on cost as well. I typically reuse the soil from the previous year and add some compost to the mix to get it back to good growing conditions. If you don't have good soil available to you, you will need to purchase some for you containers. I typically go for the most inexpensive and do just fine, some swear by specialty brands, but I've only purchased them if they just happen to be on sale making them cheaper than the off-brand.
When potting your plants, be sure they have some room for drainage so your beautiful plants don't drown. A few rocks in the bottom, or pieces of a broken pot serve well for this. It's always good to be sure your pot has at least one small hole in or near the bottom in case you do overwater.
So... when you're shopping for annual flowers for your patio, or your yard, look for the best value in size and quantity, know your lighting conditions, and be willing to pot or plant your own plants and you can do a lot more for less if you are willing to do a little work. You're friends will think you paid someone to do all the work for you!
Get those hands dirty and have some fun!