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Seasonal Tips: What and When to Fertilize

by Nellie Neal

Whatever size your garden, summer will keep you busy. Small spaces like patios and balconies no doubt overflow with container plants and they need attention. Annual flowers in pots will bloom for months if you’ll keep the old flowers picked off and fertilize with a soluble flower food every two weeks.

 Vegetables and herbs in pots can use the same fertilizer as annual flowers, but may need more frequent watering to set fruit and sumptious cooking herbs. Look for dwarf varieties of squash, melons, and pumpkins to add to that patio garden. 

Get out into the garden bed and seed more annual flowers for blooms well into fall. Zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and moss roses grow easily from seed most anywhere in the country and little hands love to help plant them. Deadhead annuals as they bloom to keep the flowers coming.

 Cut back stems on perennials that have finished blooming, and fertilize them with a slow release flower formula fertilizer. Give them new mulch or compost and keep them watered over the summer.

 Summer’s a fine time to take cuttings of many popular shrubs and they’ll root easily in a combination of damp sand and peat moss or potting soil. Try some of these to add to your landscape or share with friends: Abelia, Butterfly bush, Beautyberry, Camellia, Cotoneaster, Daphne, Eleagnus, Hebe, Hydrangea, Hollies, Nandina, Sweet Olive, Rose, and Lilacs.

 Take a good look at your roses. The once-only spring bloomers can be trimmed back to shape them now and you can root the cuttings. Repeat bloomers and many climbers will continue to flower; be sure to give them light applications of fertilizer and plenty of water. Hybrid tea roses will need more attention: spray them to prevent diseases and use a fertilizer containing systemic insecticide to discourage aphids and thrips.



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