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Tips for keeping container and garden plants in bloom all summer long.
At this point in the growing season, the first flush of flowers starts to fade. Annuals and perennials alike will benefit from TLC that promotes more blooms. Use these tips for flowers planted in containers as well as beds.
Remove spent blooms
If you’ve ever heard a gardener mention deadheading, they’re simply referring to the removal of spent flowers.
Deadheading can be done with pruning shears or scissors. Some tender stems can even be snapped off by hand.
The goal is to remove dead flowers before they completely dry and set seed. The plant’s job isn’t done if it doesn’t set seed. By removing the spent blooms as soon as they fade, you encourage the plant to flower again in its quest to create seeds.
When you deadhead, cut stems back to a point where leaves branch out or to the base of the stem if there are no leaves. A bunch of empty stems will detract from the beauty of your garden.
Fertilize for more flowers
Fertilizing will give your plants the food they need to create more blooms. However, not just any fertilizer will do. To choose the right fertilizer, you need to understand the label.
Fertilizer packages will have a series of three numbers. For instance, Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food is 24-8-16. These numbers represent the balance of three macro-nutrients in the formula: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Nitrogen promotes leaf growth; phosphorous is important for root, flower and fruit development; and potassium is used for root and stem development.
When fertilizing to promote a bounty of blooms, you want the second number (P) to be relatively higher than the others. Looking at Miracle-Gro products again, their Bloom Booster Flower Food has a composition of 15-30-15. The extra phosphorous in this formula (the second number) helps plants create the flowers you love.
Flower fertilizers come in several forms: slow-release pellets, liquid and granules. Use whichever is most convenient for you, always following the directions on the package. (Too much food can damage plants.)
Annuals and perennials do best when watered regularly. Containers dry out more quickly than beds. It’s best to water plants before the soil dries completely or the plants begin to wilt. Just like people, they need to stay hydrated in order to thrive.
Deadhead, fertilize, and keep up with watering to keep your flowering plants blooming all the way into fall.
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