Midsummer means your annual flowers in the ground and in containers probably can use some sprucing up. Modern annual varieties are bred to bloom their heads off all summer, but in the process they can get a little ragged looking, so they need a boost to keep going into the fall. It might even be time to replace the worst of the lot and let other, more vigorously growing types take over. Some annuals, such as pansies and violas, may just go dormant in summer but bounce back in fall with the cooler weather.

Here are some tips to keep your annuals in good shape this summer:

  • Cut them back. Cascading and trailing annuals such as petunias, verbena, and calibrachoa can often get long and leggy by midsummer. Simply pinching them back to a side branch or just above a set of leaves will make them bush out more and flower better into the fall. You may sacrifice some flowers in the short term but will be rewarded with more blooms for the rest of the season.
  • Pull them out. Some annual flowers, especially those tightly packed in containers, may not have fared so well growing next to more aggressive plants. Consider pulling these stragglers out of the containers and letting the other annuals take over. This will change your garden design but will produce a healthier and more floriferous container.
  • Give them a boost. Because annual flowers are bred to bloom, they need more fertilizer than perennial flowers. Give your annual flowers a boost with a slow-release fertilizer. In containers consider adding a liquid fertilizer as well every few weeks to keep the plants happy.
  • Plan for fall. Sometimes it’s just better to start over with a container or bed that is really struggling due to bad weather or insect and disease attacks. Planning a fall annual bed is a great idea in this case. Plant cool-weather-loving annuals such as pansies, snapdragons, torenia, and flowering kale. Protect them with shade cloth from the August heat and keep them well watered.