Flower Gifts

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Annuals

Annuals

Q. When I deadhead my annuals should I only remove the spent blossom or am I supposed to remove the stem as well?

A. Let me explain. The purpose of dead heading annuals is to keep them blooming as long as you can up until frost or autumn when they will cease and die. It is to keep them from forming seeds which is why they are on earth to begin with. But we want to postpone that as long as we can so that we have their beautiful color in our gardens!

It is for the beauty of the garden beds that you would desire to cut off the stems also. It is not necessary as the stems do not produce seeds but it sure looks a lot better.

On addition if you left the stems there they would die back to the main stem or trunk of the annual and this dead tissue would invite insects and fungi which could harm or kill the plant. This we do not want either.

So summing up I recommend that you cut off any stem portions which do not have green vegetative buds or more flower buds coming. use sharp very clean shears and discard the stems into a compost pile or the garbage. Do not discard right there in your bed.

Keep them well-watered and fed monthly to encourage more flowers. Enjoy your flowers...to me they are the greatest of the season!


Q. I have bought all these pretty six packs of annuals. Now where do I put them and how far apart?

A. Annuals provide almost instant color for gardens and are easy to raise as long as you keep them watered and fed well throughout the season. Pick off old flowers to prevent the plants from producing seed and dying.

Make sure that you have worked your garden beds by turning the soil over and adding some organic material like peat moss dried leaves dehydrated steer manure and/or compost. Lay the flowers out in their respective beds before actually planting them. Just set each flower in its container on the ground where you plan to plant it. That gives you a chance to space them properly (as recommended on the tags that usually come with each flower) and to see if your groupings are working.

Planting transplants is simple. Dig a hole just a bit bigger than the plant's rootball. Tap the sides of the plant's container to loosen the rootball.

Place one hand over the top of the rootball and turn the container upside down so the rootball is resting on your hand. Pull the container off with the other hand. Set the rootball in the hole right side up. Cover the rootball with loose soil and press down firmly. Water the rootball thoroughly.


Q. What should I do about these annuals? Every year they look great for a while then go downhill a lot sooner than my neighbor's plants.

A. As the season progresses annuals can become leggy with fewer flowers. This is natural but practices can lengthen their flowering. Annuals are meant to grow flower and form seed for the next generation. Once that task is over the signal is to die. Many annuals grown today are hybridized for bushy growth but older varieties will benefit from having the tops pinched out. Deadheading [removing faded blooms before they set seed] encourages the plant to put its energy into making new flowers. If you plan to save seeds wait until the end of the season allowing the last flowers to go to seed. Remove yellowing foliage to keep down diseases. If plants become too dense air will not be able to circulate around the plant encouraging diseases. Remove some inner stems to increase air circulation and light penetration. Weeds compete with flowers for light moisture and soil nutrients. Frequent weeding not only reduces competition but also breaks up the soil so that water can penetrate easier. A layer of mulch helps keep the weeds from growing.


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