Now that summer has arrived we are experiencing beautiful sunny weather and brightly, colored flowers are in full bloom. Annual flowers can bloom all summer long and into the fall if pay attention to grooming, feeding, and watering your flowers. Here are our tips for keeping your flowers blooming.
Deadheading – Many flowers benefit from having their dead flower blooms removed. This process is known as deadheading. Many plants that repeatedly bloom need to be deadheaded so new blooms will be produced. If the dead flowers are not removed they will go to seed and the plant will stop growing new flowers.
A form of deadheading is pinching. Pinching is designed to encourage a plant to branch out or to promote an additional blooming cycle. The process involves removing the dead flower of the plant, just above the next set of leaves, which causes the plant to form two new stems. Deadheading makes the plant look better and also encourages healthy growth as well. The removal of this part of the plant can be done using a scissor or you can use your thumb and forefinger to grasp the section of the stem you are eliminating and “pinch it” to take it off.
Another reason to pinch is to keep a plant small and prevent it from getting too tall. Many annuals benefit from pinching as it encourages them to continue blooming or in the case of perennials such as thread-leave Coreopsis pinching can stimulate a whole new blooming cycle.
How often you should pinch your flowers will vary based upon the plant characteristics and personal preferences. Annuals such as Petunias may require pinching several times during the growing season. Chrysanthemums may require no pinching if you prefer that they bloom earlier in the season and don’t’ mind them being taller than usual.
Fertilizing – Many perennial flowers will do well with one fertilizer feeding in the spring but for your summer annuals to continuously keep the blooms producing they may need to be fertilized more often. Setting up a regular feeding schedule is of great benefit to the plants. Your schedule will depend on if your flowers are being grown in a container or in a flower bed. For containers, we recommend using liquid fertilizers every two weeks as they are easier to apply over the summer blooming season. With liquid fertilizers, they are less likely to burn your plants.
With annual flower beds, we recommend using a granular fertilizer. This is because the granular fertilizer will only need to be applied once or twice during the growing season and will continuously release the nutrients over a longer period of time. If you have a large number of flower beds a granular fertilizer will save you a lot of time.
With both of these fertilizers, we recommend using an organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers generally don’t need to be applied as frequently and have a very low risk of burning your plants. The only drawback is they are generally more expensive than inorganic fertilizers.
Watering – keeping your soil consistently moist is one way to ensure bloom production and the durability of the plant. Usually, water the plants when the top of the soil seems dry, this is the case for both containers and flower beds. A best practice to determine if you need to water is to check the soil 2 – 3 inches below the surface to see if is moist. If it is not, then it is time to water. If you live in an area, where you regularly get rain, you might find you don’t need to water your plants at all. The rain does need to give the ground a good soaking for this to be the case.
When it comes to watering, one of our top tips is to water your plants in the morning. Cooler temperatures keep the water from evaporating quickly. This helps the plant get the water it actually needs. The best time to water is between 6 am – 10 am. Another best practice is not to water your plants whenever you feel like it. Annual flowers have shorter roots and will need to be watered more often. Fast draining soil, can be watered about ½ inch two times a week. Heavier clay soil will retain the moisture and therefore does not have to be watered as often; maybe once a week.
Flowers that you grow in containers need to be watered more often. Again, check the soil to see if the plants are ready to be watered. You might find that you will need to water them once a day. If your plants are in a windy location, you might have to water them more often than plants in a sheltered location. You can try adding mulch to your containers or under your plants to help retain the moisture in the soil.
There are also flowers that need more water than others. Drought tolerant flowers like Cosmos, Sunflowers, and Zinnias do not need as much water. You might be able to get away with watering them once a week. Other flowers including Calibrachoa, Geraniums, and Snapdragons like to be watered more often.
If you have any additional tips you use to keep your flowers blooming, please share them with us.