It is important to take good care of your garden if you want it to be sustained for many years. Some plants that you grow may flourish and harvest annually while some other plants can only grow perennial. No matter how you will still need to provide good maintenance for both of them.
Maintaining Your Annual Garden
A garden that is a showplace of beauty and color is a garden that you have been maintaining to keep it that way. watering, weed control, fertilizing, staking, and pruning (if needed) are the key factors when maintaining a garden of annuals.
When fertilizing most people are unaware that nitrogen is the one nutrient that frequently limit’s a plant’s growth and is the most difficult one to manage without damaging your plants.
Keeping track of your plant’s color and growth rate will help you determine whether they even need fertilizer. If they do need a nitrogen application, try using a quick-release water-soluble form or a slow-release granular form.
If you choose the water-soluble apply every 2 weeks or a quick release should be applied every 4 to 8 weeks and slow-release need only be applied twice. The first should be incorporated into the soil bed at planting and the second half way through the growing season.
Flowering annuals will slow down or stop growing during extended long hot days of summer although some flowers tolerate short periods of hot dry weather. A good watering with a soaker hose will provide your plants with enough water, a minimum of 1 inch per week, more when it’s extremely hot or when they are flowering.
Soaker hoses are excellent because they allow the water to seep directly into the ground without wetting the leaves, wet leaves in hot weather make plants susceptible to diseases and insect infestation a problem no one wants or needs.
Weed control can be controlled when plants are spaced far enough apart and mulch is spread to help minimize the growth of weeds. Some weeds will still need to be pulled by hand.
If you choose to use an herbicide apply it before weeds germinate and appear and keep in mind that not all herbicides are for flower beds so READ the INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. Some plants may need staking as they grow, wire cages, tomato stakes, and bamboo stakes are very good choices.
Stakes should be 6 to 12 inches shorter than the height of the plant, be careful not to harm the root, sink stake far enough into the ground to be sturdy from high winds, then loosely tie the stake to the plant using a coated twine or wire.
Deadheading is simply removing dead or faded flowers and seed from the plant. Annuals produce seeds after the flower fades and this can reduce flower production. To keep your flowers producing though not necessary for all flowers, cut back any dead stems and leaves, this keeps them neat and pretty.
Maintaining Your Perennial Garden
An orderly look to any garden means it has been properly maintained. Maintaining a perennial garden is relatively easy as with any garden that is given proper mulching, watering, fertilization, weed control pruning, and pinching. Begin by mulching with 2 or 3 layers of pine bark nuggets, needles or shredded leaves at planting. With good soil, additional mulching should be done in early spring.
Organic mulches add mulch needed nutrients and humus to the soil as they decompose adding more moisture-holding capacity. Keep in mind however that if mulches are too heavy their moisture-holding capacity may harm your plants. When watering I personally prefer a soaker hose for the simple reason that the water will seep directly into the soil even though the mulch while it avoids the leaves and flowers.
The soil, plant types, and temperature, as well as the plants’ growth progress, plays an important part in watering. Plants need on average 1 inch of water per week and more if temperatures climb and the winds become high or if they are in bud to flower or flowering. Always allow the soil to become somewhat dry before watering again.
Nothing takes away from the beauty of a garden as unsightly weeds so spacing your plants and mulching are the best ways to cut down on weed growth. An herbicide such as Preen can control many weeds problems but not all.
Some herbicides are applied before and after planting before weeds pop up. Before applying any herbicide READ the LABEL CAREFULLY, not all are for flower beds and therefore should be carefully chosen and make sure no weeds are growing before applying. If like me you choose to weed by hand, weeds are easier to pull when the ground is wet.
Most perennial flowers don’t need a lot of fertilization so apply in early spring at the beginning of its growing season and again in mid-summer when they have become fully established. If their growth rate is fine fertilization may not be necessary.
If you do fertilize remember that over-fertilization may promote a lot of pretty green foliage but few blooms and can and may cause your plants to develop diseases. Avoid the plants leaves and blooms if possible, fertilizers will burn them and DO NOT REMOVE the mulch allow the water soak through it, watering well.
Removing the dried flowers and seeds (deadheading) will also promote new growth and healthier plants, simply cut the flowers and stems down to a healthy side. Some will rebloom after being cut back.
All perennial plants don’t need to be because some of their pods are quite attractive. Pinching (after the flower has bloomed) makes some plants fuller and thicker when its terminal growth is pinched and reduces its height making the plant more compact and with more flowers although it may with some plants delay flowering.
Plants that respond well to pinching are Asters, Phlox, Chrysanthemums, and Petunias. Start pinching in early spring when the shoots are long and discontinue in July.
Read also: Basics of Planting a Fall Garden
How to Select, Purchase & Plant Perennial Flowers
Perennial flowers will provide your garden with a huge variety of colors, shapes, and types. Though they tend to have a shorter blooming period usually 2 to 4 weeks, if and when you design and plant your flowers correctly you can have blooms from spring through fall.
The main advantage of planting perennial flowers is that you don’t have to plant them every year. Consideration as to how it looks before and after it blooms should also be taken into account.
Planting annuals along with perennials will give a show of color all through the growing season. As with any planting consider your site first, the amount of sunlight needed ( at least 6 hours ) the soil type, moisture needed, drainage, and how you want your layout to look, remember these plants will be left out during winter.
Keep in mind that shady spots around trees and shrubs will cause plants to compete with their roots for mulch needed moisture. Even with the best preparing tree roots are deeply in-bedded and shrub roots will grow back.
Avoid areas that are problem weed areas, making sure it is well cultivated from weed by using a herbicide or cover with heavy clear plastic and re-soil the area before planting.
Avoid planting also in an area where you know small children will be playing.
Perennials can stand a wet site for a short period of time, but most will die from their roots being to wet, so avoid low lying areas that tend to have standing water.
Any plant will fair better in rich well-drained soil and always incorporate mulch and compost into the soil before you plant.
When choosing your plants, select plants that are showy and blossomy as well as those that will bloom and blend well with them. Plants can be purchase from nurseries and garden centers.
Plants that are packaged in cell packs tend to grow into the ground quicker and are less expensive, just keep them moist until you plant because they will dry out quicker.
Try and avoid buying and planting plants that are in bloom, a plant in bloom is not always the best time to be transplanted. When transplanting try and plant on cool overcast days and if this is not possible try and provide some shade to the plants.
Please avoid hot, humid windy days whenever possible. Soak bare-root flowers in water at least ½ hour before planting.
Container grown plants should be watered before removing them to be planted. When planting make sure the soil is loosened then fill the hole and press the soil lightly around the plant making sure the crown line is at the soil line.
To stimulate root growth soak the soil with a mixture of liquid fertilizer and water ( follow manufacturer’s directions ). Water plants frequently until they become well established.
One tip on purchasing, avoid plants that are dried out or have yellow or pale green leaves and stems, they tend not to do well.
Below are a few suggestions on what might look well in your perennial garden.
- Bleeding Heart
- Sweet William
- Lily of the Valley