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Flowers have a tremendous impact on a landscape. They can add instant beauty to any location, outline a walkway or highlight a special place in your garden. Flower beds allow you the opportunity to create a new design from year to year. Flowering bedding plants may be either annuals or perennials - an annual grows for only one season while perennials grow for more than one season. A kaleidoscope of color can be created by combining both annuals and perennials in your planting scheme.
The key to a successful flower garden is your choice of plant material. Make certain that the bedding plants you choose will grow in your region of the country. It is equally important to place them in the proper location in your garden. Choose shade loving plants for shady areas and sun loving plants for areas exposed to full sun.
Soil for most bedding plants should be slightly acid to neutral with a pH of 5.5-7.0. It may be necessary to add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. Spade or Rototill your planting site prior to planting. This will break up compacted areas and incorporate air back through the soil to increase root development. Tilling will also improve moisture retention and drainage. Soil amendments, including a well balanced fertilizer, should be incorporated into the top 4-6 inches of soil prior to planting.
Make sure that the plants are well watered before you begin planting. Loosen the root balls of plants that are tightly rooted. Make sure not to plant too deep or shallow, but at the same level the plant has been growing. Remove any spent blooms or yellow leaves as you plant. Spacing will depend on the desire effect, the cultivar selected and the ultimate size of the plant at maturity.
Feeding Your Garden
Bedding plants must be fertilized to keep them in an active state of growth. While a high nitrogen fertilizer is usual from the seedling stage until flower buds form, a fertilizer with is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium is recommended for use on bedding plants in flower. Generally, around 4-6 weeks after planting, it is recommended to top-dress with a granular or time release fertilizer.
Weeds can compete with flower for nutrients and water. Hand weeding or cultivation with a small potato fork or scuffle hoe on a regular basis will prevent weeds from getting out of control. Cultivation cuts down on weeds by exposing weed seeds and seedlings to the drying heat of the sun before they can become established.
Deadheading or removing spent blossoms is necessary to keep the plants attractive, keep seeds from forming and to prevent disease. It also encourages more flower production and keeps the plant in active growth. By carefully choosing plants with different blooming periods you can stagger bloom times so that there is always something in flower in your garden.
A Dozen Delightful Flowers (even though there are only ten listed)
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