The key to long-lasting beauty in annuals is the prevention of seed production. When a plant starts producing seeds, it slows its metabolism, quits blooming and even dies. For example, after an annual like this marigold has bloomed (Image 1), the bloom fades (Image 2) and then dries out (Image 3). If the flower reaches this final stage, the plant will react as if the season is over and it will begin seed production. To prevent this natural process from occurring and to keep the plant blooming, check your plants every day and clip off any faded blooms. This simple step will pay enormous dividends in maintaining the color of your plantings for as long as possible.