Getting the Most Out of Your Annuals

Summer days have arrived! Your gardens are planted, your window boxes are full and your hanging baskets look gorgeous!  You’ve invested in having the most beautiful yard on the block. The question is, How can you get the most out of your plantings?

No-Fail Feeding:

Flowering plants require a balance of nutrients in order to create flowers.  In order for plants like petunias, million bells, impatiens, begonias and fuchsias to bloom all summer long (especially in containers) , it is crucial they get plenty of food!

The beginning: If your plants are still in packs on your porch, waiting to be planted, be sure to add compost to the beds you are planting in and adding a granular 10-10-10 fertilizer like Espoma Plant-Tone or Flower-Tone will help give your new plants a great start!

If you are planting in patio pots or containers, be sure to start with fresh, high-quality potting soil.  Adding a scoop of slow-release Osmocote pellets and working them into the soil will ensure your containers have a steady supply of nutrients all summer long!

Because both Espoma-Tone products and Osmocote are slow-release, they can be used to top dress existing beds.  As plants are watered throughout the season, nutrients are delivered to the roots!

Weeks 1-4: While your plants may not be growing quickly above the soil, their roots are taking hold. This would be a good time for a nitrogen rich fertilizer like Fox Farm’s Grow Big that can be added to your watering schedule once or twice a week.

Weeks 5-Fall: Now that the plant’s roots have taken off, it is time to see some blooms! Feed your annuals with a water-soluble bloom booster fertilizer like Fox Farm’s Tiger Bloom once or twice a week. The high level of phosphorus (the middle number) will support large blooms all season long!

Deadheading and Trimming:

One of the primary benefits of annuals is that they will continue to bloom all summer long providing gorgeous color.  While food is certainly important, removing dead and past-bloom flowers will promote further blooming. This process is called deadheading.

Deadheading flowers is very simple; pinch or cut off the flower stem below the passed flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Getting in the habit of doing this regularly will force the plant to spend its energy producing more flowers rather than going to seed.
In periods of high heat and as an annual ages, it may have a tendency to get long and leggy.  In these circumstances, your plant will benefit from a good haircut!  Trimming your plant will remove the gangly stems while encouraging it to branch out and re-bloom, creating a fuller, more robust plant!  How much should you cut-back? You always want to leave at least half of the plant, and at least half of the green foliage to ensure the plant can produce enough energy to come back.  The plant may look like the victim of a harsh haircut for a few days, but continue to feed and in no time your annuals will be larger, fuller and more beautiful than ever!
For more information, click here for an article about deadheading from Proven Winners.