Last week we shared some time-saving tips for your vegetable garden. If you missed that article you can click on this link to review it. There are some tips we suggested in last month’s article that are equally pertinent to flower gardening. For example, mulching and soaker hoses can be just as beneficial when gardening with flowers as they are in the vegetable patch. Rather than repeat that information our goal this week is to provide you time-saving tips that are more relevant to flowers than vegetables.
When I look at magazines or seed catalogs and see beautiful pictures of flowers it stirs my creative juices. I very much want to duplicate these displays in my own yard but it seems there just isn’t enough time on the weekends to get things exactly as I want them to be.
However, there are some things I have done over the years in an attempt to budget my time more wisely and you might find these helpful as well:
Minimize Your Deadheading - I have found that one of the most time-consuming tasks I have during the growing season is removing spent blooms in order to promote additional flowering. Over the years I have tried to focus on adding annuals that are self-cleaning and don’t need to be deadheaded. For example, Begonias, Impatiens, Pansies, and Vinca are all self-cleaning annuals that bloom non-stop throughout the season. You can also try foliage plants like Caladiums and Elephant Ears too.
Plant Flowers that Need Less Water - Dragging the hose around during a hot summer can seem like a never-ending task. You might want to consider growing flowers that don’t need a lot of water. Annuals such as Portulaca, Verbena, and Lantana don’t require much additional watering if any once they are established. If you prefer perennials try Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia), Catmint, Daylilies or Russian Sage. You might also try to group the flowers that have higher watering requirements in one or two places so you don’t have to move the hose as frequently.
Keep Reseeding in Mind - Flowers that reseed themselves can be a boost or a curse. They can save time by not having to plant seed year after year but if you find them getting into spots that require you to treat them like a weed than they may be creating more problems than they are solving. Be mindful of planting Forget-Me-Nots, Poppies and Cleome which I have found can get challenging to work with due to their prolific self-seeding tendencies.
Develop a Fear of Heights - Tall plants are often hard to resist but staking them so they don’t flop over can seem like a full-time job. If you find that you just have to add some height to your garden I recommend installing the stakes early in the season and checking the plant weekly to see if it needs to be tied to its support. Failing to do this may mean you have to try to stake and support the plant after it has fallen over or been damaged by a storm. This can be difficult to do without stepping on your other plants and afterward, it almost always has that “you staked me too late” look.
Try Planting Perennials Rather Than Annuals - Perennial flowers come back year after year which means you only have to plant them once. Annuals, as their name suggests, require you to plant them every year which is far more time-consuming. The one drawback that perennials have is they often don’t bloom all season long but if you plant Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflowers and Daylilies you can have flowers from May/June through September/October.
Focus on Your Fall Clean Up - After a long gardening season you may be tempted to take it easy in the fall and put off your clean up until the spring but the more thorough your clean up in the fall the more time you have to spend in the spring on planning and planting.
One final “time-consuming” lesson that I continually have to remind myself of is that there is no such thing as a “perfect garden”. Learning to accept that some imperfection is acceptable can allow you to spend time enjoying your yard rather than obsessing over making it perfect. If you have other tips to save time in the garden please share them with us on our Facebook page.