Seed or Transplants
As with vegetables, there are advantages to setting out some plants as transplants and others from seed. Single-potted annual plants or packs of annuals containing several transplants are more expensive than seed. However, the instant effect created by setting out plants is irresistible to most gardeners.
Sowing seed directly into the garden soil is a time-honored ritual that rewards a little work and patience with great returns. The extra time involved is offset by savings in initial cost. Also, you can get more variety at less expense from seed than from transplants.
Many species of annual flowers have improved varieties, with increased heat tolerance, disease resistance, and other improvements. Instead of relying on the same tried and true varieties each year, look for those that have won the All-America Selection award. In addition to the dozens of varieties found on seed racks, mail-order companies provide gardeners with colorful catalogs full of many exciting annuals, including the newest varieties. Ordering seed through the mail has a peculiar excitement all its own, and the catalogs themselves are a wealth of information on planting and caring for unusual plants.
Annual flowers, whether grown from seed or transplants, are all handled the same in the garden. Summer annuals are planted in the early spring, after soil temperatures have risen and danger of frost has passed. Winter annuals are planted early enough in the fall to allow time for toughening up before frost.
Set plants shallow, with the top of the roots just under the surface of the soil. If transplants are grown in pots made of compressed peat moss, crumble the top edge of the peat pot away from the plant so that it will not act as a wick pulling water away from the roots. Pinching off small flowers on brand-new transplants may be hard to do, but it will promote fast new growth and more flowers sooner.
You can have continual bloom the entire summer through some occasional maintenance. As the flowers begin to fade, remove them before seeds are formed. The plants in turn generate new flowers to try again to produce seed. Annual beds maintained for cut flowers will also send up new flower stems to replace those removed for floral arrangements.
One of my favorite easy-care, flowering plants has to be lantana. This low-maintenance plant is highly tolerant of the hot, humid summers in our Mississippi gardens.
It’s no wonder that lantana has been selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner three times.
Through February, I’m highlighting plants named 2020 Mississippi Medallion winners. Each of these winners is superbly adapted to our garden and landscape environment.
This week, I want to tell you about American beautyberry, a winner that is a native species found across the Southeast. It is known botanically as Callicarpa americana.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of introducing the 2020 Mississippi Medallion Winners at the Gulf States Hort Expo in Mobile, Alabama. This is a special group of selections, as the Mississippi Medallion program is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020.
The plants selected for 2020 include Colorblaze coleus, beautyberry, Luscious Series lantana and Garden Gem tomato.
It may be chilly outside, but don’t let that deter you from going outside and working in your garden and landscape. Grab a jacket and your gardening tools, there is plenty to be done during February!
I don’t think you can go wrong with some dianthus in your landscape in 2020.
I love the flower colors that include pink, red, lavenders, white, and bicolors. The foliage of these plants ranges from being grass-like to broader strap-like linear leaves. Plus, the foliage provides contrast with colors ranging from bright green to steely blue-gray.
There are some great selections that will do a fantastic job in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes especially in the cooler months of the year.