Fauquier/Rappahannock County
 Master Gardeners
Frequently Asked Questions

What should be considered when selecting what annuals to grow? 
Consider aspects of the site that will affect plant growth such as light, soil characteristics and topography. Different annuals perform well in full sun, light shade, or heavy shade. The slope of the site may affect temperature and drainage. Soil texture, drainage, fertility and ph influence plant performance.

Can I use left over seeds from previous years? 
Buy good seed packaged for the current year. Seeds saved from the previous years usually lose their vigor. They tend to germinate slowly, erratically and produce poor seedlings.

How do I start seeds indoors? 
This can be a fun project for both adults and children. See Plant Propagation from Seed.

When is the right time to plant summer annuals? 
Don’t be rushed into sowing seeds outdoors or set out started plants. As a general rule, delay sowing seeds of warm-weather annuals outdoors or setting out started plants until after the last frost date.

When I transplant my seedling into the garden, is there anything special I must do? 
By setting started plants in the garden you can have a colorful display several weeks earlier than if you sow seeds of the plant. This is especially true for those annuals that are slow to germinate or take several months to bloom. Before setting out transplants they must be hardened off by gradually exposing the plants to outside conditions.

Should I thin the seedlings from seeds sown outdoors and when? 
When most outdoor-grown annuals develop their first pair of true leaves, they should be thinned to the recommend spacing. This prevents over crowding which prevents enough light, water, nutrients and space for them to develop fully.

Should I mulch my annuals? 
Mulch helps keep the soil surface from crusting, soil retain moisture, and aids in the prevention of weeds.

How long do most annuals bloom? 
Annuals bloom for most of the growing season.

Do my annuals need Deadheading (removing old flowers)? 
To maintain vigorous growth, remove spent flowers and seed pods. If allowed to produce seeds, the life cycle will be completed and the plant will die. Many annuals begin to look leggy by late summer and will need to be cut back for re-growth.

Do I need to fertilize my annuals? 
Once annuals have germinated and begin to grow, additional fertilizer may be needed. This is especially true if organic mulches are added, because the mulch will take up available nitrogen as it decomposes.

When should I apply insecticide for pests? 
Do not apply an insecticide unless it is necessary to prevent damage to the flowers. The pest must be identified in order that the correct course of action can be taken to prevent serious plant damage.

How can I prevent plant diseases? 
Select disease resistant varieties of plants and seed, and by following the recommended practices for planting and maintaining annuals, you will avoid most disease problems. However there are times when weather is favorable to plant diseases. In this case determine what the disease is affecting the plant and treat accordingly following label directions.