Annual flowers can add an incredible color to any landscape. Unfortunately, due to the climate here in Macon, GA, there are far less options in the Winter. The common options are typically pansies, violas, panolas, snap dragons, kale and cabbage. We plant mainly violas instead of pansies because they are self-cleaning and do not require deadheading. I think the secret to any annual flower composition is mounding great soil for drainage and nutrients, having a dedicated sprinkler watering them and a slow release fertilizer.
Annual Flower Bed Preparation
We like to use high quality compost that is well draining with nutrients. Mounding up the annual beds also helps the beds drain much better. Due to the heat and Summer drought conditions we can experience in the Macon area, we usually install a dedicated irrigation spray head for each flower bed so they are sure to get the correct amount of irrigation. We also use a slow release fertilizer, but we typically do not use Osmocote because I feel like it does not break down fast enough.
Annual Flower Color Choices
Color choices for violas and pansies are abundant. During the Winter months it is great to have vibrant colors that will illuminate an otherwise dull landscape with dormant lawns. I try to stay away from darker colors that will be hard to differentiate from the dark soil. An example are red and purple flowers which really will not show up in annual beds unless they are surrounded by other lighter or vibrant colors.
When To Plant Annuals
This is where understanding the seasonal weather conditions of Macon can really help. I like to wait until November to plant our violas because I feel like the hot October weather will cause them to stretch and they are more prone to fungus. We try to get our annuals installed the first few weeks of November.
Deer is a problem that needs to be considered as well. In some areas where deer activity is rampant, planting annual flowers can be frustrating. We have used motion sprinklers that tend to keep deer away. One in particular has a photocell and a motion sensor that will keep the sprinkler only working at night. Other measures such as deer spray, irish spring soap, infrared lights provide some protection.
Here are some links to winter annual color from our Facebook page:
Here is a short video on annual color.