Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Ready, Set, PLANT!


It is finally warm enough to safely begin planting throughout your landscape. First, take the time to clean out your flower beds and containers. Then, select both annuals and perennials to add color and variety in your gardens.

An annual is a plant that lives for only one season. They exert their energy unconditionally, producing vibrant colors. Although replacing annuals at the end of each season adds maintenance to your yard, the reward is a rainbow of bright colors while these plants are blooming. Annuals typically last three to six months, requiring replacement two to three times per year.

When using annuals, plan your landscape to include several places where you want constant color and do not mind replanting each season. These locations can be garden beds or planters. Popular spots for annuals include framing a front entry, highlighting a driveway or mailbox, or surrounding a relaxing outdoor living space. Prepare your gardens for annuals with 2-3 inches of compost, peat or topsoil. If you choose, you can add fertilizer; mix it in approximately the first 6 inches of soil before planting.

In our area, popular annuals include delphiniums, dianthus, dusty miller, impatiens, marigolds, salvias, supertunias, verbena, vincas and zinnias.

Perennials are plants, shrubs and trees that last indefinitely; flowers can survive at least three growing seasons in Northeast Florida. Many perennials turn brown and seem to die in the winter but then grow back from the roots. Just prune off dead stems and wait for them to reappear. Although perennials require less maintenance since they do not need replacing, they bloom in and out of color, not showing off the bright hues that annuals provide. Consider planning your landscape with at least 90% perennials to balance the showy color with less replacement cost and effort.

When selecting perennials to add to your landscape, look for African iris, agapanthus, blue daze, bush daisy, canna lily, foxtail fern, gardenia, gazania, gold mound duranta, hibiscus, hydrangea, knockout/drift roses, lantana, loropetalum, mandevilla, muhly grass, portulaca and shrimp plant.

Happy planting!

Flower of the Week: Gazania

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.