Flower Gardening Tips

Flower gardening tips to assure your flower garden continues to bloom from spring until fall through the use of seeds, flowering bulbs, and other plants.

Blooming flowers burst upon us almost the moment the sun begins to melt the snow. A warm, welcome burst of color usually is provided by the vivacious crocus, which gets the show started by pushing up their bright yellow and purple heads through the last remnants of snow, heralding the onset of spring.

From there, bulbs such as the daffodil, narcissi and tulip begin to dot flowerbeds with scarlets and pinks, and a multitude of yellow and orange shades. Then come peonies, painted daisies, day lilies, Shasta daisies, lavender, pansies, and hollyhock. Finally, phlox, dragon's teeth, globe thistle, sunflowers, moonflower, and hostas will bring forth their perspective blossoms.

The sight of all this beauty is breathtaking. However, there are times when a garden showcases various shades of green, brown, and grey...and nothing else.

To ensure flowerbeds continue to prosper with colorful, healthy blooms, try mixing a few perennials with annuals. Gardening with annuals like snapdragon, alyssum, marigold, petunia and salvia will keep the bloom from early spring until the first frost, but only if the plants are kept healthy.

A healthy garden means that plants have adequate water, fertilizer if needed, and enough sunlight. They also need to be planted deep enough in soil that's been worked up sufficiently to provide growing room for the plant's roots.

Dead-heading the flowers after the bloom fades will keep the plants in flower. To dead-head a plant, simply snip the dead or dying bloom off the mother plant. Snipping the flower-head off keeps the plant from focusing its attention on the creation of seeds, which will form in the dead flower-head. Without seeds to produce, the plant will work extra hard at pushing out another bloom, which will eventually produce seeds, and making seeds is the reason for creating a blossom in the first place. Since disease and mildew may form in the de-headed bloom, as well as seeds, don't discard them in the garden.

Planting gladiola bulbs every two weeks, beginning as soon as the frost as lifted and ending in mid-August, will ensure tall, flowering stalks all summer long. Other bulbs should be planted in the fall. Most bulbed plants bloom in the spring, but can be forced in pots indoors. Calla lilies can be potted and set on the patio for beautiful blooms, or as a cutting plant in the garden. Fertilizer regularly.

The daisy is another carefree, easy to grow flower that is a must in the garden. If kept in tip-top shape, daisies will bloom all summer long. Cutting the daisy only makes the plant work harder to produce more blossoms. Once the daisies have reached their peak, cut the plant down to just a few inches above the ground, and watch them send out shoots a second time. The second time around, the plant doesn't produce as many blooms, but composting and fertilization efforts will pay off with a bountiful crop of blossoms.

Roses are another flower that will bloom from spring until fall. Their blossoms should be snipped just before they begin to wilt. Snip the bloom near the closest fork. The plant should sprout two branches from where it was cut, and hopefully each will push out another bud.

Planting flowers from seeds, also has its merits. Seed flowers, such as zinnia, come in various sizes and colors. Planting several packages in the same area, mixing all heights and varieties together, will give your garden a meadow look, or one that is haphazard. This type of gardening, sometimes called wildflower style, can be very appealing. If you want the flowers to grow in a stepping stone method, plant the shorter varieties in the front and continue backward adding the next height until you have reached the back row where the seeds from the tallest flowers should be planted. Either way, zinnias are beautiful. They also can be dried for use in wreaths later in the year.

Several things to remember includes deadheading for continued growth, and cutting flowers back for inside arrangements. These two techniques help keep the plant from going into seed mode. Enjoy your plants inside and out, and don't be afraid to cut a plant down to size if it needs it. The object to have a flower garden is to have blossoms, so keep fertilizer on hand, dispel bugs as soon as you see them, and water frequently during dry spells.

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