Last week, on a trip to our local big box store, I was greeted by the pallets loaded with beautiful, red geraniums. This is a sight that made me angry.
You may be wondering why on earth the sight of beautiful flowers made me angry. Well, I do love flowers, (obviously… I’m a horticulturist) – so that is not what made me mad.
What if I told you that most of the annual flowers that were on display at the beginning of April, are the same kind of flowers that were for sale in September and October.
Now, if you take a minute to consider this, you come to the conclusion that the annual flowers that the big box stores are being offered for sale in early April – just in time for summer. That doesn’t make much sense does it?
Well, winter annuals are called “winter annuals” for a reason….because they grow in the winter, NOT in the summer. They cannot handle our hot summers here in the desert.
You may think that this problem does not apply to you if you don’t live in the desert and your summers do not get as hot as ours. Well, I hate to inform you that this problem occurs all over the US.
I love Violas, but these beautiful hanging violas that were hanging outside of the nursery department will be toast, literally, in just a couple of months. My violas that have been growing beautifully since late October, are starting to show signs of stress with the couple of 80+ days we have experienced last week.
And so, this is what makes me angry this time of year, when I enter the nursery section of my big box store. The winter annual flowers are beautifully laid out in order to entice shoppers as they enter. You can see the shoppers envisioning how beautiful their gardens will be once they add some of these colorful flowers.
Marigolds, Alyssum, and Petunias
What they do not realize is that in two months, the alyssum and petunias, pictured above, will be dead and their money wasted.**Interestingly, the petunias and alyssum are placed alongside the orange colored marigolds, which usually will do quite well through most of the summer.
Arizona is different from many parts of the country. Our mild winters allow us to grow annual flowers that are grown elsewhere in the country in the summer.
People put their trust in their plant nursery and believe that they would not sell anything that would not thrive in their garden. They rely on their expertise to sell the right plant for the right time of year. Sadly, this is not true of all nurseries, especially those at the big box stores. People begin to believe that they cannot grow flowers or that they have a “black thumb” instead of a green one when their newly planted flowers begin to die soon after planting.
But do not DESPAIR….there is hope!
You can avoid being a victim and the solution is really quite simple….do a little research. It can be as simple as doing a Google Search and enter the term….summer annuals for (your city or area). You should be given a long list of plants that should thrive in your area.
**For residents of the Arizona and California desert, I have done the online searching for you. You can check out the following link for information on what kind of flowers to grow and when.