Well, I got the job done and now I am enjoying seeing pretty pops of pink when I am outside.
I planted the Vinca in the front bed and the…
…Verbena in planters on my deck.
I am not an avid gardener, but after 25 + years planting annuals in my yard, I do have a few tips to share so that your flowers will bloom all summer long.
1. Know Your Growing Region
Make sure what you want to plant will grow in your region of the country. If you don’t know what your growing zone is, you can find out by going to the UDSA’s Plant Hardiness Map. If this confuses you, don’t worry, just ask at the nurseries in your area and they will tell you to take the guess work out for you, but always check.
I love peonies and enjoyed them every summer when I lived in Pennsylvania. Sadly peonies do not do well in South Carolina. We had a tree expert out when we first moved in to tell us what all the trees and shrubs around our house are. When I said I wanted to plant peonies, he smiled and told me they will not grow here. :-(
2. Sun, Part Sun, Shade
When buying flowers to plant in beds you will be wasting your money if you don’t pay attention to the amount of sun the bed gets. Figure this out before choosing your flowers. When you get to the nursery, look for flowers that state on their label where they need to be planted. This will be full sun, part sun, and or shade.
The pink Vinca I planted loves the sun so planting them in this front bed is perfect as it gets sun all day long.
3. Acclimate the Flowers
Because young plants are grown in greenhouses they have been pampered. Now that you want to plant them they need to be introduced to the elements like wind, temperature fluctuations and hot sun… gradually. Boxes and flats of flowers can be placed in wagons and wheelbarrows that make moving them inside and out easy to do.
Start by moving young plants outdoors to a shady or semi-shaded spot for three to four hours a day. The area should be somewhat protected like a porch or under a large tree. Bring them in at night for the first few days. I usually wheel them into my garage. Gradually increase the time outdoors by one to two hours a day. After a few days move them to an area with morning sun, but return them to shade in the afternoon. After about a week your flowers should be okay to be planted.
Whether planting perennials or annuals, preparing the soil in advance will help your flowers flourish.
Determine the area for your flower bed. Last year the Vinca I planted in the bed did OK. The soil was old and there was not enough for the flowers to really dig in and thrive, so this year I added new garden soil. Before adding it though, I raked out all the old pine straw, winter debris, roots and rocks.
I then added Expand ‘n Gro with The Claw. Yes, that is what the tool is called, The Claw. :-) It is the best garden tool ever. It makes breaking up soil and mixing it a breeze and no heavy machinery is needed.
Even though the bed is large, I didn’t need bags and bags of new soil since one small bag of Expand ‘n Gro covers up to 3x more area then traditional garden soils.
Once I spread it around and mixed it in.
I added water. The soil doesn’t expand instantly, but after about 15 minutes you will see how the soil has doubled and then after a few hours, tripled in bulk.
Once your soil is all mixed and slightly most, it is time to plant your flowers. I placed each plant where I wanted it to go before I start digging, this way I know I have my spacing right. For Vinca, 9-inches apart is the recommended spacing.
Dig a hole as deep as your seedling, including it’s root mass and twice as wide. Loosen the root ball and place the seedling gently into the hole. Add enough soil into the hole and around it. Tamp the soil down gently and water thoroughly.
6. Watering: What Time of Day?
Early morning is generally the best time to water flowers. In the early morning, the plants get a chance to dry off with the morning and afternoon sun, as well as the breezes throughout the day. Being able to dry quickly helps prevent fungal diseases from spreading throughout the plantings.
Daytime watering, especially during the hottest months of the year, is not a good thing. One reason is that you’ll have to water more, because the water begins to evaporate much more quickly than in cooler parts of the day. Daytime watering should be avoided at all costs. That being said, however, If you must water, leave a hose running at a moderate trickle around the base of your flowers for 30 or so minutes. If you have thirsty flowers that are showing signs of drought stress, water them at the base and give them a long drink.
Late Afternoon or Early Evening
While evening watering is not the best time, it can still be a better option than watering during the middle of the day. If you must water your flowers overhead in the evening, try and do so on a breezy or windy night. The wind helps dry the leaves more quickly to help prevent fungal disease from spreading during the cooler night temperatures.
7. Dead-Heading and Pinching Back
Notice the trailing branch of Verbena that I planted in planters along my deck? It seems I have a few four-legged friends who hop up 8 steps to get on to the deck. They think they are helping me pinch-back my flowers, except they are chomping off the fresh blooms! I shoo them off, but this morning a baby bunny hopped up. He was so small and cute that I didn’t have the heart to shoo him away.
Deadheading is very simple. As the blooms fade, pinch or cut off the flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Repeat with all the dead flowers on the plant. Get in the habit of deadheading early and often. If you spend at least a short time in the garden each day, your deadheading task will be much easier. Start early, around late spring, while there are only a few plants with faded flowers.
8. Feeding and Weeding
It has only been 2 weeks since I planted the Vinca and they are thriving. Since I live in the land of pine trees, pine needles are everywhere. It would be a waste of time for me to put down bark mulch as it would be covered in a few weeks with pine needles. Pine Straw mulch is what is used instead to help protect the bed. I don’ t need to add flower food to the bed since Expand ‘n Gro already has it in it and will feed your flowers for up to six months.
Weeding is not so easy and is no fun! If you want your flower bed to look nice all summer long though, it has to be done. I weed when I water. I look for weeds and pull them out then. If I stay on top of it, the chore never gets to where the weeds are out of control.
One way to help combat the weeds is to lay down landscape cloth over your soil before you plant the flowers. Cut out holes in the cloth where each plant will go. This can be time consuming, but over the length of the summer will save you time since weeds will have a hard time getting through the cloth.
These are the steps I take when I plant flowers that I want to stay in bloom all summer long.
Do you have any flower growing tips to add to my list?