Annual & Perennial Plantings

Spring is really here and one of my favorite spring activities is planting and improving my flower beds, obviously. If these flower beds are not planted or cared for correctly, they will not survive. One of the most disappointing things to any gardener is when their plants die!


The foundation of a successful garden starts with proper plant selection. Annuals aren’t as critical because they are going to grow in a warm environment through the summer and won’t stick around to the following year, but you still need to plant the right plant in the right growing environment. Pay attention to the hardiness zone that the plant should be placed in. Southeast Nebraska is in either zone 6a or 5b, with the new hardiness zones that were released last year.

Also, be sure to choose plants for the growing conditions, such as full sun, part sun, part shade, or full shade. Plants that should be planted in full sun need at least 6-8 hours of full sun. Part Sun plants need 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Part Shade plants require 2-4 hours of sunlight daily, and Full Shade plants do still need some sunlight but less than 2 hours of sunlight per day will be adequate. Choose plants that meet the sunlight availability in your landscape.

Drought tolerant or water loving makes a difference for the plant and location in your landscape as well. If the plant is drought tolerant, it will do better in a location that is hotter and possibly on the south or west location in full sun. Some full sun plants prefer to have their roots in wet locations, they would grow better in locations where water is more frequent. Moisture levels also make an impact in shade loving plants, some grow best in wet shade and others prefer dry shade. Know what your plants grow best in and what your landscape locations can give before purchasing plants.

Proper Planting

When planting your new flowers, start by digging the hole wider and just as deep as the root ball of the new plant you are planting. Gently release them from the container that you purchased them in and tease the roots apart some to help them get growing. Don’t pull the plant from that container by the top growth of the plant, this can damage the growing point. It is better to cut the container off the plant or flip it over into your hand while you push it out of the container from the bottom, being careful to not smash the plant while you do so. After placing it in the freshly dug hole, push the existing soil back around the plant and slightly firm it up.

Follow-up Care

After all new plantings, the next step is most important, water it in. Take a hose and let it trickle around the new plant to provide needed moisture to the plant, settle the soil around it and eliminate small air pockets. Maintain adequate irrigation through the season to ensure best blossoms and best establishment for perennials.

Be sure to add a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch around each newly planted annual or perennial. Mulch helps retain moisture around the plant, improves soil structure, keeps the lawn mower and weed trimmer away from damaging the plant, and keeps the roots at a uniform temperature through the seasons. Do not mound the mulch up around the plants, it should be a uniform 2-3 inch depth throughout the garden bed. If you have problems with a lot of annual weeds in the bed, you can add a little preen around your plants, as long as the plants are listed on the label for the preen to be used around them.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

If you have any further questions please contact Nicole Stoner at (402) 223-1384,, visit the Gage County Extension website at, or like my facebook page at and follow me on twitter @Nikki_Stoner 

Nicole Stoner
Extension Educator
Gage County
May 2024