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Seasonal Tips - Planting Your Bulbs

 

How do you know when spring has sprung? For some, it's when a particular flower blooms; for others, the air seems to smell differently once frosts are past. Whatever your personal barometer, get busy in the garden with these timely tasks:

Make annual feeding with balanced formula fertilizer on all established groundcovers, including both clumps and creepers, whether shrubby or herbaceous, deciduous and evergreen. Mulch new groundcover plantings to hold down weeds while plants grow, or seed a fast-growing annual around them for the first season. Trying to get groundcover vines to fill in? Use a hose-end sprayer to fertilize new plantings; use 20-20-20 at half recommended strength and feed twice a month.

Plant spring annuals as soon as possible, including petunias, pansies, sweet william, snapdragons, delphinium, larkspur, and calendula. Mix flowers among herbs and vegetables in a garden bed for a cottage garden look now and plenty of butterflies later. Mulch around annuals after soils warm up and fertilize them one month after planting. Be sure to deadhead first flowers as they fade for more blossoms.

When planting container grown perennials take time to loosen the rootball and place the roots gently into the garden soil so they rest in a mix of old and new soils. Use stakes, pickets, cages, or bamboo from the backyard, but stake those iris and other tall perennials to keep flowers clean. Trim or pinch late summer and fall bloomers for compact growth and more flowers; make the last pinch in late June.

Let daffodils, hyacinth, and crocus bulbs age gracefully; leave their foliage alone for best flowers next year. Plant gladiolas weekly right alongside the stake that will support them for cut flowers all summer. Plant fleshy dahlia roots in soil richly amended with compost; mark the spot with strong stakes to support heavy growth later. If you love calla lilies, but have problems with soft rot, try them in a container filled with very rich soil and grow them in half a day's shade.



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