Dig It! - Maintain a Healthy Garden
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
June 29, 2007
Here are some ideas to make your flower garden last longer and give you more time to enjoy it.
Pinching and Deadheading Old Blossoms Pinching off old blossoms will help the plant set more buds. Inside old blossoms are developing seeds and it takes energy for the plant to make seeds, so by taking old blossoms off, energy can go to making new blossoms. Use a pair of sharp scissors to deadhead flowers that have tougher woody stems. Cut off the flower a quarter-inch above the next bud.
You can just use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off old blooms on compact plants that have many flowers. However, the safest method is to hold the flower stem with one hand and cut the flower off with the other. For long-stem flowers like daylilies, break off the flower where the stem meets the stalk by gently pulling down on the flower until it snaps off.
Some of the plants that benefit from deadheading are geraniums, coreopsis, petunias, marigolds, snapdragons, begonias, roses, campanulas, blanket flowers, delphiniums, zinnias, sweet peas, salvia, scabiosa, annual heliotrope, tulips, daffodils, and yarrow.
Some plants that you should not deadhead include grasses, sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Melampodium, impatiens, most flowering vines, Lythrum, most groundcovers, crocuses and other minor spring–blooming bulbs, and wishbone flower.
Weeds Weeds will invade your flowerbeds. A thick mulch of organic material (or several layers of newspaper covered with mulch) will discourage invaders and the ones that do appear will be much easier to remove. Weeding is best done when it is warm and windy since wind will dry the roots faster.
Evergreens Elderly evergreen develop inner dead zones. Don’t spend time pruning too aggressively because the dead zone will never green up.
Watering Drip irrigation is the best and most efficient way to water. It supplies moisture to the soil while keeping leaves dry, helps prevent leaf spots, and results in less evaporation. A soaker hose is a good tool to use. Here are some tips.
1. The beds need to be fairly flat. Laying hoses on an incline causes water to weep unevenly.
2. Make sure your hose is long enough to cover your area.
3. Lay your hose out in the sun and let it get warm and flexible, then you can zigzag it through your plants. The best time to do this is early in the year when plants are fairly small, but it can be done at any time. Place the hose within 1 inch of young plants. For older plants, keep it at least 2 inches away from the crown of plants. Be sure to cover at least half of the root zone.
4. You can cover the hose with mulch. This will keep the sun from damaging your hose and will keep soil most.
If you use a sprinkler, water about twice as long, especially if it is windy and warm. Be sure to water new plants well, even if they are plants that when older do not need much water. Water about two times a week for new plants and once a week for old plants, depending on the amount of heat, humidity, and wind.
Rather than dragging hoses a long distance, punch small holes in a milk jug or other plastic container to slowly drip water. Make holes about 1 inch above the bottom.
Petunias Rejuvenate petunias in mid- to late-summer by cutting them back to about one half their size, fertilize them and renew their mulch. Fertilize petunias in containers more often (about every ten days) if you use liquid plant food.
Fertilizers Feed perennials monthly with a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus. Feed annuals every three weeks with a balanced (5-10-5) organic fertilizer. There are timed-release fertilizers that are readily available that work well, too, lasting for as long as four months.
Hanging baskets A great way to cut down on having to water your hanging baskets is to poke at least six holes three to four inches deep and three inches apart around the edge of the hanging basket with a pencil. Get a jar of water absorbing crystals and, per directions on the jar for your size of pot, divide the crystals equally among the holes. Refill the holes with soil and water well.
Garden Club events If you have a nomination for the Garden of Beauty award, please send it to email@example.com or Box 2280, Pinedale, WY 82941.
The annual Garden Tea will be July 28 at President Mary Williams' home. For more information, call 367-2815. If you have questions about entering flowers, vegetables, arrangements or other categories of plants in the Sublette County Fair, please call 859-8606. Judging will be on August 3.
The Sage and Snow Garden Club will begin monthly meetings again in September on the second Tuesday at noon in the Pinedale Library.
Submitted by the Sage and Snow Garden Club