The summer heat is on!
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Caring for Your Flowers

We are about midway through our growing season and your flowers may need a bit of extra attention.

  • Water. Although we had a touch of rain the past couple of days, more heat is sure to come. Be sure your flowers have enough water. To prevent run-off, water more frequently rather than for a longer time. (This is an effective strategy for lawn watering as well.) If you have a timer, add another start time. You can find timer programming instructions here.
  • Fertilize. Two products I use and recommend are Osmocote's Slow Release Plant Food: Vegetable and Bedding (sprinkle on the soil) and Fertilome's Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant Food (mix with water). Of course, you don't need to use both products, just one or the other. If you want something natural and organic, sprinkle bone meal on the soil. Of course, if you have a fertilizer canister on your irrigation system, you can just add 4 Tbsp. of water soluble fertilizer to the canister and let the irrigation system do the fertilizing for you.  For more information about fertilizer types, check out this newsletter from last year.
  • Deadhead. "Deadheading" means removing the flowers that are spent or past. When you deadhead the plants in your containers, you want to remove the dead flower and all its parts off the stem. Annual plants spend their whole lives trying to reproduce. When you get the seed pod off of the plant before the seeds mature, the plant will produce more flowers constantly trying to make more seeds. For more details on deadheading, check this past newsletter.

If you have concerns or questions about your container gardens or irrigation system, please contact me.

Also, if you're considering doing some landscaping work, please call me (970-988-3808) to help you with your landscape design.

Get to Know These Plants

Snapdragon / Antirrhinum majus

This is the one flower you can have a conversation with… gently pinch the small, individual blossoms in the back and the “dragon mouth” pops open and shut. You must listen very, very closely to hear what the flower says – a fun game to play with your children or grandchildren. Snapdragons are fun to play with and lovely to see. The vertical flower spikes open from the bottom up and range from a short 8” to as tall as 4 feet. Although they are annual plants (they will not survive the winter), they often reseed themselves. The seedlings may look different than the originals due to cross pollination. Snapdragon seeds are really tiny and require light for germination. This is why they often germinate in areas with landscape rock – the seeds fall between the rocks but enough light comes through the cracks to sprout. As the spikes of flowers finish, cut them off to encourage reblooming. Each plant may produce 7 or 8 spikes of flowers per season. Additionally, Snapdragons make good cut flowers. Cut the stalk early in the morning when about ¼ of the flowers at the bottom are showing. Place it immediately in tepid water and keep in a cool place (65 degrees) for one to two hours. Then recut the stem, about an inch up from the original and arrange in a fresh vase. The flowers will last in the vase for about a week. 

Daylily / Hemerocallis

Daylilies are easy to care for, drought tolerant and showy – no wonder there has been so much breeding work done on Hemerocallis! There may be up to 20,000 hybrids of Daylily.  We generally see Daylilies in fiery orange, yellow and red hues, but they can be found in all colors except true blue and pure white. Sometimes the petals are ruffled and some flowers have a different color throat. As the name suggests, each individual Daylily flower lasts for only one day. The plant continues to produce flowers sometimes for 3 or 4 weeks. Spent flowers can be removed to approve the appearance of the plant. If you do not have the time to pull off spent Daylily flowers each day, but be sure to cut off the stalks as the flowers are finished. Otherwise, the plant will produce seed pods which look like squat, green bulbs. While this is not harmful to the plant, it spent energy developing the seeds instead of growing larger in your garden. If your Daylily isn’t blooming the way it used to, there are several possible problems: 1) it no longer gets enough sunlight (perhaps your trees have grown taller); 2) it is overcrowded and needs to be divided; or 3) the crown of the plant is buried too deeply. If you suspect the problem is overcrowding or that is may be buried too deeply, be careful when you replant the divisions that the crown (where the leaves meet the roots) is only 1” deep.

Purple Smoke Bush / 
Cotinus coggygria

The “smoke” of this shrub is neither the flowers nor the fruits but rather the multitude of stalks on which the flowers grow. Sometimes called Smoke Tree and sometimes called Smoke Bush, it is somewhere between a small tree and a large shrub. Cotinus coggygria will grow up to 15’ tall which would seem more tree-like but grows multiple stems from the ground which is more shrub-like. Whichever name you prefer, the Purple Smoke Bush makes a great specimen plant for accent. Its dark purple foliage creates a great back-drop for blooming perennials and most cultivars also provide good fall color ranging from bright red to orange. Smoke Bush should be pruned gently in the late winter/early spring. Heavy pruning will encourage bright, healthy foliage but this will be at the expense of the flowers and “smoke.”
Ever wonder where I get my information? Here's my resources:
  • Armitage, Allan M. Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Second Edition. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing LLC, 1997.
  • Crockett, James Underwood. Annuals. New York: Time-Life, 1971. Print.
  • Ellis, Barbara W. Taylor's Guide to Annuals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.
  • Flint, Harrison L. Ortho's All about Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Des Moines, IA: Meredith, 2002. Print.
  • Gordon, DeWolf P., Jr. Ph.D., et al. Taylor's Guide to Perennials. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. Print.
  • Hessayon, D. G. The New Bedding Plant Expert. London: Expert, 1996. Print.
  • Hughes, Megan McConnell, et al. Better Homes and Gardens® Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
  • Peschke, Donald B., Publisher. 108 easy-going, easy-growing flowers!, a supplemental to Garden Gate magazine. Des Moines, Iowa: August Home Publishing Company. 2006.
  • Whiting, David, et al. "Pruning Flowering Shrubs, CMG GardenNotes #619." Colorado Master Gardener GardenNotes. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Extension, 2011. Print & Online.
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