Annual and Perennial Garden Planning

Planting Flowers with Children

Planning your garden can be an exciting time. Here are some tips to start at home so that you have a plan when you come to the garden center!

Make a Plan

A well maintained landscape, with annuals
A well maintained landscape with annuals and perennials.

Carefully plot out large beds. Make allowances for height and proper spacing of each plant. Put the plan on paper and color it in with crayons, pens or paint to get a general idea of the overall effect.

Color considerations.  Massing a single color will create an elegant, unified effect suitable for terraces, planters, and window boxes.

Newly planted perennials can take a few months to get going and spread out.  While you wait, dress up any empty holes the garden with annuals.  Since they germinate, bloom, and die within a single season, there’s no need to dig them up once the perennial flowers are established. You can also plant them at the base of a trellis while you’re waiting for a perennial vine to flower.

Planting Considerations

Planting Flowers with Children
Andrew’s youngest daughter, Harlee, helps him plant violas.

Help young annuals and perennials get off to a good start. Set them out on a cloudy day or in late afternoon so that the delicate leaves won’t scorch.  Keep them well watered until they are established.  Young roots have difficulty drawing enough moisture from the soil.

Never set a plant significantly higher or lower in the soil than the depth at which it was previously grown.  A notable exception is the tomato, which can be planted somewhat deeper; it produces new roots along the stem.

Loosen the roots of a container grown plant before planting.  This is especially true later in the season when plant become root-bound.  Tease the roots apart with your fingers; if they are tightly wound, use a trowel or a kitchen fork.  Place the plant in the hole and spread the roots in all directions before backfilling.
Plenty of moisture is essential when you set out young plants. Make sure you soak the planting hole with a good watering as soon as possible.

Throughout the Year

Spend time enjoying your world!
Spend time enjoying your world!

Plants need three major elements for food: nitrogen for vegetative growth, phosphorus for strong roots, and potassium for flower and fruit vigor.  Work a time release fertilizer into the soil at planting. Using more fertilizer will not boost growth and may injure your plants.  Plants vary in their requirements as herbs need fertilizer infrequently; others, like roses, are hungry all the time.  A rule of thumb is to feed most plants in early spring to stimulate growth but apply little or no fertilizer in the fall so that the top growth can harden off before winter.

Pinching young plants delays blooming but helps them become stockier and bushier.  Annuals such as cosmos, coleus, snapdragon, nicotiana, red salvia, and petunia benefit from pinching.  Use your thumb and forefinger to nip out the growing tip of the main stem just above a leaf or pair of leaves.

Don’t forget to mulch. Protect roots, suppress weeds and retain valuable moisture by covering the bed with 2-3 inches of an attractive mulch.  Use shears or scissors to remove dead flowers from annuals that bloom in flushes.

Showy displays of color attract butterflies. Plant flowers with blooms of vibrant purple, orange, yellow, and red.  Single blooms provide better access to nectar than double blooms do. Also avoid flowers hat hand downward or have ruffled edges; butterflies will find them hard to sip from.

Like bees, hummingbirds pollinate your garden.  An extra bonus is that they’re delightful to look at.  Build a trellis for trumpet creeper, morning glories and honeysuckle.  When the vines blooms, hummingbirds will arrive.  Hummingbirds like flowers of red, orange and bright yellow.

Take time to sit in your lawn chair and enjoy your flowers!
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