When it comes to growing annual flowers – both in the garden and in containers – there are a few things that many gardeners ignore.
If you want the best show of blooms in your neighborhood, here are the four, simple gardening skills you must master.
Begonia (Fibrous) this is a mainstay plant for containers and bedding plant displays (particularly the fancy ones) that don’t require a lot of maintenance.
Impatiens: Six different kinds of impatiens and how to grow them.
Sweet Potato Vine. Here’s how to propagate the sweet potato vine
Verbena. These are annual plants but one specific species can turn into a self-sowing plant to grace your garden every year.
How to stop frost from wrecking your garden. Practical tips that worked in my nursery.
Articles Of Interest
The smell of petunias is (possibly) going to produce a new insecticide. You might want to experiment after reading this article (but note just planting them next to plants doesn’t do anything)
A list of annual flowers that bees will visit. With all the problems we’re creating for bees with chemical sprays, this essential insect needs our help.
1) Feed Them
Annuals can be greedy feeders. As a perfect example, the new petunias – the ones that can grow 4-feet across – will do this if you feed them well.
But they may only get to 2-feet if you leave them unfed.
They’re known in the greenhouse trade as “greedy” feeders and get more feed than other petunias.
In my gardens, I use this basic program to feed annual flowers:
- I spread a shovel of compost around each annual after planting. This is just tossed (carefully so as not to bury the plant) around each one but isn’t dug in or anything else. I let the worms take care of that for me.
- Once every two weeks all summer long I apply liquid plant food. I use fish emulsion because it contains all the major and minor nutrients a plant needs
If you do this for your annual flowers, you’ll see some amazing growth rates.
2) Mulch Them
Mulched annual flowers grow much better than unmulched ones.
The difference is in consistent soil moisture and no water stress on the plants.
Mulch keeps the moisture level more uniform than allowing the soil to dry out in the sunshine. There’s no feast nor famine with a mulch.
The only downside of a mulch is that it may attract more slugs. So be prepared to deal with these creatures.
For me, the biggest mulch advantage is that it stops about 90% of weeds from growing.
I weed a ton less with a 4-inch layer of mulch than with bare ground.
3) Prune Them
Annual flowers bloom on new growth.
This means the more new growth you have, the more blooms you’ll receive.
The general rule of thumb for annuals is that you prune out the growing tips of newly planted annuals to make them bush out. The bushier they are, the more blooms you’ll get.
Here’s a video showing the two basic pruning cuts. This is how we make annual flowers thicker and produce more flowers (and everything else for that matter)
4) Water Them.
I know, I know. Everybody tells you this but here’s the easy guideline.
- Touch the soil with your finger. If it comes away “damp” then your soil has enough water.
- If it comes away “dry” then you soak the garden.
How much water do you apply?
The common rule of thumb you’ll read says to add 1.5-inches of water per week but with a mulch, you’ll rely on your finger test above. Pull back the mulch and get that finger working.
A heavily mulched garden will use far less water than a garden soil that’s open to the sun and air.
5) The Last, Uncounted But Most Important Secret
Good gardeners do a few of these things but great ones do them all, and do them consistently.
It’s that regular feeding and watering on time, when the plant needs it, that produces an amazing garden.
Prune/pinch off new growth to bush up the plants as well as feeding and watering them, and you too will have a stunning garden.