June 13, 2022

While perennials come back every year, annuals die back each fall and will need to be re-planted every spring. In Michigan, May is always the time when homeowners start getting their annuals into the ground for the growing season, providing their property with color that will last until fall. But choosing annuals isn’t always simple, and choosing the right annuals can make the difference between a garden that looks beautiful all season long, and one that fades quickly.

Annual flower selection at a local greenhouse nursery.

May is a Great Time to Start Getting Your Annuals

The weather always plays a role in when to buy annuals. Frost will kill most annuals, so you shouldn’t buy yours until the danger of a hard frost is gone. May is usually a safe time to start. Annuals are fresher in May, plus you will have more time to enjoy them throughout the season. However, there is still a danger of frost early in May. If you buy your annuals early in spring, choose cool-weather plants like pansies, and make sure to watch the weather and protect other annuals. If you choose to wait until June, you know your annuals will be safe from frost, but you may have a harder time finding all the plants you want.

Choosing Long Haul Annuals

Warmer weather ‘long haul’ annuals will continue to bloom throughout the summer unlike other annuals who may have a shorter blooming season. Marigolds, Lantana, Petunias, and Salvia thrive in the summer sun and often will last through early autumn. For season long color, mix these ‘long haulers’ with other annuals and perennials that will provide ever changing bright and showy color combinations. Remember, native plants will perform better than plants that need to be imported to your area. A good landscaping provider will always know the local stock of native plants that will do well in your soil and weather conditions.

Choose the Right Plants for Your Property

Assess the areas of sun and shade on your property before you start planting. When you are designing your annual planting beds, be careful to use plants with similar sun and water requirements for each bed. Shade plants can be beautiful, but if you attempt to mix them with flowers requiring a lot of daily sun, you will have a frustrating season. Consider mapping your property with marked areas for “morning sun”, “full day sun”, “afternoon sun” and “shady area” before you go shopping for annuals.

The “Thriller, Filler, and Spiller” Method of Planting Annuals

Many homeowners will use container gardening for their annuals, as it can be easier to design and maintain them. The magic behind the best container gardening is using the “thriller, filler, and spiller” method. Great designs will include a “thriller”, which is a plant that makes a strong statement, usually with height or color, “filler”, plants that fill the space and hide the soil, and “spiller” plants that will weep over the edge of the container. This results in a three dimensional arrangement that looks opulent and mature, but can be changed out throughout the season if necessary to highlight favorites from early spring Pansies, to late fall Dahlias.

Annuals can turn your yard into a summer paradise when you research and plant them right, and planting annuals will allow you to get creative with your outdoor spaces every year. Talking to a landscape designer can help guide you toward the best annuals for the Michigan May rush! Contact Twin Oaks Landscape for more information about planting annuals, designing planting beds, and choosing the best plants for your spaces.