Ways to Keep Your Garden In Color All Season
Trying to manipulate a sequence of bloom in the garden is part art, part science and a good part luck. Weather, grazing animals, and flowers that don't follow the calender can create lulls where no plants seem to be in peak performance. There are a few tricks to keeping pockets of color going throughout the summer. They take a little effort, but that's the fun of gardening, right? Implementing any one of these tips will increase the blooms in your garden and spur you on to do more.
Many perennial flowers will also rebloom if deadheaded. Exceptions are perennials that bloom on a single tall flower stalk, like astilbe or iris and perennial flowers that need a chilling period to set their flower buds.
To deadhead, simply snip the entire spent flower stalk off the plant, as close to the base as possible. For flowers that have multiple buds on one stalk, you can either cut down to the next unopen bud or check out tips 2 and 3.
Newer gardeners have a hard time with this drastic approach, but give it a try. The plants recover quickly. Early bloomers start to look bedraggled by mid-season anyway. In fact, if you have plants like geraniums and Brunnera, whose foliage fades after flowering, shear the whole plant back to the new grow at the base and watch how quickly and how well they recover.
3. Step Pruning
This type of pruning will result in your clump of plants turning into 3 levels or steps that will bloom in succession. Instead of one flash of bloom, the rear section bloom firsts. As it fades, the center section starts to bloom and hides the fading plants in the rear. Last to bloom is the front section, which will grow taller and hide all the fading plants behind it.
A balanced all-purpose fertilizer will suffice, but if you really want to kick things into gear, try a dose of super or triple phosphate. Phosphate is especially good for root development early in the season and for boosting bud set. Follow the label directions. More isn't better. And Phosphate isn't a substitute for a balanced fertilizer, it's a supplement.
6. Cheat a Bit and Mix in Colorful Foliage
Flowers come and go, but foliage just keeps getting bigger. It just keeps getting easier and easier to have a riot of color in the garden without a flower in sight. Shrubs like 'Black Beauty' Sambucus, chartreuse and bronze sweet potato vines, screaming orange cannas and the pale pinks and cream of Weigela 'My Monet' can either complement, augment or even replace the flowers in your garden. And we haven't even mentioned the rainbow available in coleus. Sprinkle your garden beds with a few hardy shrubs and sprinting annuals and you'll never be without a spot of color.
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