I was asked by a client the other day if we could plant her annual flowers right over her tulips, with the intent to allow the bulbs to ‘multiply’. I had to pass on bad news. Bulbs and annuals don’t play nicey-nice together. At least not with the selection we have here in the Midwest…
Bulbs should be planted at the correct depth for the bulb. If a bulb is planted too deep, to make room for the annual above, it may not grow.
Tulip foliage must be allowed to die-back naturally and will make an annual display look a bit messy until the foliage has died back and been removed. If you must prune the leaves back, there’s very little chance you’ll see tulips next Spring.
Bulbs, tulips in particular, do not multiply*, rather they disintegrate over time in the ground unless removed after the foliage has died back naturally, are stored properly and replanted in the fall. (Side note: Tulips give 3 years of service, in my opinion.)
Annuals planted over bulbs will remove all the nutrients from the surrounding soil leaving the bulb starved.
Bulbs need dry conditions, if annuals are planted above bulbs they will rot from the added water annual flowers require.
*Daffodils do multiply, however all the rest of the conditions would not be good for daffodil bulbs either.
Summer annual container time!!! Please contact me if you’d like your containers planted.
If you’re looking for sensational summer color, look no further! Summer pots are the way to go. Not only are they full of pizzazz, the color is often right in your face, literally, especially if your favorite container is on a pedestal.
Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season with. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)
You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.
Here’s where your imagination needs to run free through the flowers. In many of the containers below, the photos are of the plants after there has been a bit of growth put on them. You can also get instant height from a trellised plant such as a mandevilla, jasmine or other vine.
Another tip ~ Flowering can be increased if the plants are kept on the drier side. This takes a bit of skill, as you don’t want them to dry-out, but keep them on the brink of drying. Why?!? Because. Think of it this way. If you’re kept all fat and happy without doing anything, why not just enjoy the hand-outs? (can you say ‘vegetative growth’? Haha!) However, if you need to work for everything you’re getting, you fight to survive and multiplying is surviving in a plants eyes. Thus, more blooms = more seeds.
First, choose a clean vase or container for your arrangement. For hard-to-clean narrow-necked containers, simply add dried beans or coarse salt to the vase with water and swish. Here in limestone land (alkaline), I use some vinegar to rid the vases of white spots (calcium).
There are other options to using a vase, florist foam (called florist oasis). If the blooms are of a taller variety, a disk of chicken wire pushed into the neck will help hold them straight. Rocks, pebbles, or florist colored-jelly balls can help hold stems upright also.
The best time to harvest flowers from your garden is in the early morning when moisture is at it’s highest. When purchasing flowers from the store, never place them in a rear-window of a car, a windy location, or where the sun hits them. Wrapping them in damp newspaper or paper towel will help them stay hydrated.
Aside from trimming off all leaves that could potentially be in the vase water, it is always good practice to trim at least an inch off the stem before arranging. In addition to these two practices, here are some special treatments for some floral arrangement favorites:
Clemantis = Pour boiling water over the stems , then place them in cold water. Another choice would be to dip them in champagne for a few hours before arranging in vase. Drink leftover champagne…
Daffodils = Cut them in bud or barely open. Fill the hollow stems with water and plug with a small amount of cotton. This works for all hollow stemmed flowers. (delphinium, amaryllis). Don’t put other flowers with them, they give off chemicals harmful to other flowers.
Dahlias = Never cut in tight bud, as they will not open.
Poppies = Harvest while still in bud. Sear the base with a lighter or by dipping in boiling water.
Gladioli = Cut when lowest floret is opening, and remove a few of the top buds.
Hellebores & Lilacs = Smash or split the stems before arranging in vase. This technique works for all woody type flowers.
Lilies = Harvest while still in bud. As flowers open, trim off anthers to prevent the pollen from staining anything nearby.
Marigolds = When re-cutting stem, trim exactly at a node (where the leaf meets the stem). Condition the flowers before adding them to the main arrangement by setting them in a vase for an hour with a tablespoon each of sugar and bleach.
Pansies = Submerge flowers one to two hours in tepid water to revive. They also fair better when a few leaves are left on.
Peonies = Cut them when the buds are half open and coloring. Slit the stems one to two inches to aid with water uptake.
Tulips = Add a few drops of vodka to keep them from drooping.
Clearly, arranging flowers could lead to getting tipsy 😉 Be safe out there!!
Wow! A Saturday post! 😉 I usually like to collect
my photos on the weekends and post on the weekdays, HOWEVER, this was too awesome to wait!
I noticed this little donation from Mother Nature on the side of my house last year! I didn’t see any in the past, however, it was April 9th when I had discovered them last year. Way later than this year. I hope this is a good sign that things will progress a bit faster this year! Mr. Groundhog is hopefully right.
Most of the Midwestern area is comprised of clay soils. Never fear! This is a much better situation to have than sandy soils. Clay soils maintain more minerals and moisture than other soils.
Sometimes clay soils can be bad, such as in conditions where there are more problems than just the soil. If while digging in the soil, it looks blueish-black and smells kinda off, this is because of poor drainage and the smell is from rotting organisms. The area should be assessed for drainage problems before anything else is done.
If the clay is a redish-orange, this is perfect as the soil is holding all the minerals plants crave.
The soil should be mixed with a fair amount of compost to help perennials get a good start. If the soil is very compacted, some sand can be mixed it also. Be sure to surround the perennial bed with leaf compost to aid in nutrients getting to the roots and all the other benefits mulch does for plants.
Aren’t these two just adorable?!? I love them! My neighbor gave them to me after I helped her set-up her raised garden bed veggie garden. I placed them right near our driveway for all to see. If you also find them a hoot, they are sold by many, just search for ‘pooping gnomes’ 🙂
Behind them: Penstemon pinifolius ‘Mersea Yellow’ (Beard-tongue) which bloom in June. A yellow penstemon? I had to have them! Their dominant color ranges normally are white to pink to reds. I’ve not seen these in anyone’s garden I’ve visited. My wholesale nursery only sold them one year and discontinued them due to lack of interest and unreliability. I’ve had these for 6 years now and although they haven’t spread much (sometimes a good thing) they plug along where they are at. They are located in a 10″ raised bed of composted, good draining soil – Southern sunny exposure – No irrigation.