Nothing boosts your curb appeal like a bounty of beautiful summer flowers.
Most flowers are planted in the spring, but what if you kept putting the planting off and waited too long? Thankfully there are certain varieties of flowers that can be successfully planted in the summer. So what are these miraculously low-maintenance blooms, and how do you keep them alive during the dog days? The tips below share all you need to know about enlivening your garden even in high temperatures and lots and lots of sunlight.
Choose the right flower variety
You’re going to be opting for sun-loving plants, so figure out where in your yard they can best bloom. Find areas that get at least four hours of direct light a day. Then pick up easy-to-grow annuals that thrive in the sunshine, including marigolds, geraniums, petunias, impatiens, begonias, and zinnias.
Watch your water
A crucial step in maintaining your blooms—especially in the hot months—is consistent watering. But take it slow to avoid over-watering. “The best way is a slow trickle,” says Doug Wagner Jr., a landscape designer and general manager of Wagner Nursery, in Dubuque, IA. “You don’t want water runoff or erosion. You want it to all soak into the ground as fast as it comes out of the hose,” he says. Time of day matters, too. Early morning is typically the best time to water flowers and other plants because it’s cooler, so the water won’t evaporate as quickly. Use a mulch such as bark around your garden plants to help retain moisture and keep weeds down. “If people have busy lifestyles, choosing more drought- and heat-resistant plants can be a better solution. However, by the middle of summer most will still have to be watered daily,” says Daniel Arnold, owner of University Gardens, a garden center near St. Louis.
While it’s not mandatory, fertilizer will help keep flowers healthy and blooming. Liquid fertilizer generally needs to be applied every 10 to 14 days through the growing season, after the plant has established itself, says Wagner. You can mix some fertilizers right into a watering can, or if you have a larger area to cover, look for one that will attach to your garden hose.
Take up container gardening
Another way to ensure flowering success is to plant in containers, a method called container gardening. Essentially, you plant flowers in vessels instead of the ground. Anything from a terra-cotta pot to an old metal coffee can will work for container gardening. Here are some of the benefits of planting in containers:
Rocky or poor soil isn’t a problem. Tilling and prepping your soil can be time-consuming and backbreaking work. But you can have blooms faster by planting nursery plants in containers, baskets, or even raised beds. Use fresh potting soil for the best results.
Maintenance is a snap. Weeds are minimal in containers and baskets. This can be a significant bonus, as keeping up with weeding can be a seemingly endless chore.
You can skip the work and buy pre-filled planters. Garden centers sell a wide variety of pre-planted containers and hanging baskets. They’ll be in full bloom and ready to enjoy without the work when you take them home.
If you opt for container gardening, keep a close eye on the plants since they tend to dry out quicker than plants in the ground. In the summer, most flower species in containers need daily watering (some even need it twice a day, in the morning and afternoon).
Be a deadhead
Not to be confused with the fans of the jam band the Grateful Dead, this type of deadhead harkens to the old birthday rhyme “a pinch to grow an inch.” With flowers, you want to “deadhead,” or pinch off spent blooms, to encourage more flowers to emerge. Deadheading encourages annual plants to bloom more because they don’t have to spend their energy producing seeds. Wagner suggests deadheading immediately after the flower blooms and dies. ”By doing this it will promote new growth and more rapid blooming,” he says.
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