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.
Most folks have poinsettias and entertaining on the agenda during the holidays, but for this week’s column, I want to highlight a plant that has been an outstanding performer for me all year.
It took this past weekend’s hard freeze to finally shut down my black-eyed Susan vine (I’m going to use the abbreviation BES for this flower), known botanically as Thunbergia alata. For many gardeners, in their experience this is traditionally a basket plant that deserves to be grown more often.
It seems like I've seen Christmas decorations in stores for at least a couple of months. They really accelerated after Halloween, completely ignoring Thanksgiving, which was when I noticed early poinsettias out in force.
Along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the appearance of these poinsettias means we are in the full swing of the Christmas season.
In my opinion, the poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas plant. With its brightly colored bracts, it is a plant truly full of holiday cheer. I think most people will agree that the poinsettia is second only to the Christmas tree in essential Christmas season decor.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends got me thinking about traditions and beliefs, some popular in the distant past but gone by the wayside today.
In agriculture, some of the most popular myths revolve around the changing seasons.
The last two weeks, I've told you about two of my top three cool-season flowering bedding plants. Today, I'm going to complete the trifecta with another plant everyone should have in their landscape: the viola.
Violas may have smaller flowers than their cousin, the pansy, but they're maybe even tougher and more tolerant of cold, winter weather than pansies. These plants are beautiful massed in landscape beds, and they can be great performers all the way to Easter.