Few things are more beautiful to most than a brightly planted flowerbed in the spring and summer. Annuals, plants that complete their lifespan in one growing season, offer to lots of gardeners the most spectacular displays of color. Whether you are planning to add a bed of impatiens, cockscomb, daisies, or dusty miller to your flower garden, proper soil preparation, planting technique, and daily care are what will guarantee you prolific color throughout the spring and summer and well into the fall months. Annuals typically come in flats, pots like those made of compressed peat moss, and cell packs. Annuals also prefer warm soils and stable temperatures for best growth and brightest color.
Proper soil preparation
- Design the flowerbed and determine the best location for it. Take into consideration sunlight, shade, available water, and shelter from prevailing winds and storms.
- Remove all the weeds and grass. You can do this by hand with a shovel or garden spade and rake or you can use power equipment like roto-tillers.
- You can also remove the deleterious materials chemically with the application of products like roundup or glyphosate. After the chemicals kill off all the weeds and grasses, remove the dead vegetation.
- Till the soil. Once again, you can do this by hand or with a tiller.
- Add approximately 4″ of organic matter like compost or peat to improve the soil aeration, texture, drainage, and tilth. Till the organic matter into the top 8″ of soil.
- Add a good quality fertilizer. You should use a well proportioned fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 and work it in to the soil along with the organic matter.
- Level the flowerbed with a rake.
- Before beginning to plant your annuals, water the plants well.
- Moisten the flowerbed slightly before planting your annuals, as well.
- Remove the plants from their containers by gently squeezing the sides while pushing up on the pliable container bottom. Alternatively, you can tip the container upside down and tap the bottom lightly. The plant will usually fall out into your hand.
- Inspect the soil around the root ball. If it is tight and appears compacted, loosen the soil by pulling gently at it with your fingers or cutting it vertically with a knife.
- Set the plants in the prepared beds at or below the same level as they were planted in their containers.
- Tamp the soil around the plants and water it well to help firm the soil and eliminate air pockets.
Use a high quality starter fertilizer such as 10-52-17 when watering your annual plants. Mix 2 tablespoons to one gallon of water and apply a cup to each plant.
Use an organic mulch to retard weed growth and help conserve water in the soil.
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