Annual flowers provide a great opportunity to color up your landscape, front porch and lanai, whether in the ground or in containers. Most Florida annuals last one season, not one year. There are both warm and cool season annuals.
I selected coleus as a favorite warm season annual that does well in central Florida. Coleus is a fast-growing plant that can reach a height and spread of 1-3 feet. Coleus has low drought tolerance. It prefers full sun and performs well in partial shade/partial sun. Propagation from cuttings is very easy.
Consider your site conditions: sun, shade or part of each; soil type; and the size of the landscape bed, then you can make good plant selection decisions. Purchasing plants first and then making these determinations later will cost you time and money.
For plant selection, access the University of Florida website, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu, and select specific plants. Or, order a free copy of The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design. Go to https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/, click on ‘Resources,’ then ‘Free Publications,’ select the ‘Florida-Friendly Landscaping’ topic and you will find the guide.
To prepare the site, add 2-3 inches of organic matter to the soil surface and mix into the soil. Top the organic matter with a controlled (slow)-release fertilizer according to the label and mark your calendar when the next application will be needed.
Dig the hole for the plant so 10 percent of the container size is above ground level. Water the plant before and after it is planted. Space the plants according to their mature size, not how they look the day you plant them. Water as needed until the plants are established, which means you can see shoot growth. Microirrigation works well for watering annuals, and be sure to direct the water to the roots and soil, not to the leaves or flowers.
Mulch the area so it is 2-3 inches deep when settled and pull the mulch away from the base of the plants. Mulch retains soil moisture, and this moisture next to the stem of the plant could cause damage and attract insects or disease. Mulch moderates the soil temperature, reduces runoff and erosion, improves the soil structure, suppresses weeds and enhances the beauty of the landscape.
For more information on annuals, please review Gardening with Annuals at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg319, from which this article was adapted, and the Central Florida Gardening Calendar, which contains month-by-month information on what to plant, when to prune, fertilize, etc., at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep450.
For more information and answers to gardening-related questions, contact our office at 744-5519, and be sure to visit our website for information and upcoming events at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/. Enjoy your landscape. Be well.