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Fall Flower Care

November 1, 2008

Volume 1, Number 14

Inside this issue…

Fall flower care

Collecting seeds

Double the Value - Double the Beauty

Hello Gardeners,

A gardener’s work is never done. That old saying holds especially true in the fall, when a whole host of tasks are necessary to keep the garden looking good and, more importantly, prepare for the winter months and the following spring. We’ve created a flower garden To Do list to help you draw up your own.

Perhaps one of the most therapeutic, and rewarding, of gardening tasks is collecting seeds from your favorite annuals or perennials and saving them for planting next spring or even giving away as a gift. In this issue we give you some tips for gathering the seeds from your favorite plants.

Looking for some bold and beautiful bulbs to plant for spring flowering? Or do you yearn for a pretty border of English Primroses. The Michigan Bulb Co. has an extensive catalog and some great deals. Read on…

Fall Flower Care

Fall is perhaps one of the most spectacular months in nature’s calendar. Color is everywhere – from the leaves of deciduous trees turning deep red and warm gold, to the fall flowering perennials in your own garden. But you can’t sit back and take this beauty for granted; this is the time to upkeep and plan for next spring, even as you wind down the garden for winter.

To extend the beauty of your garden through to the end of the flowering season, add some fall flowering plants to your flower beds to provide a last splash of color before winter sets in. Some plants to try are pansies, marigolds, asters and ornamental grasses.

Deadhead perennials, annuals and roses and throw them onto the compost heap (unless, of course, they are diseased). You can also cut back any tall stems on your roses and take cuttings from them for propagation, especially from rambling roses. Deadheading faded blooms ensures continued flowering and strengthens the plant; however, don’t remove the heads plants from which you want to collect seeds. Also, leave a few seed heads to provide winter interest and food for the birds. If you want to hold invasive perennials in check, it’s important to deadhead them before they go to seed; this effectively stops their territorial ambitions on the flower bed. You must do this before they get a chance to scatter their seeds.

This is also the time to cut back perennials that have finished flowering and place supporting stakes on tall plants that are still in flower to prevent them from drooping or being damaged by winds. If any of your perennials need dividing (if they are growing in clumps), do it in the fall to ensure healthy root growth, but don’t divide fall flowering perennials now; the time to do that is early spring. Pull up annuals that have finished flowering and plant annual and perennial seeds for spring; be sure to get them into the ground at least six weeks before the first frost.

Plan spring flower beds by planting spring flowering bulbs. There’s nothing like some splashy wallflowers mixed in with some bright, tall tulips for a cheery display after the winter months. You can mix and match the colors for added interest. Summer flowering also bulbs need to be dug up in the fall. These bulbs are too delicate to survive a cold winter. After digging them up, store them in a dry, cool, covered place. The basement works.

Certain species of annual weed love the coolness of fall and propagate like wildfire in the fall (they would!), so it’s very important to pull them up or suffocate them with mulch. Whatever happens, don’t let any weeds go to seed.

After you’ve finished cleaning up and planting for next season, apply a layer of mulch to protect plants, bulbs and seeds from the winter cold. Collect up all those pretty leaves falling into your garden, chop them up or crush them and use them as mulch material. They will eventually break down into a lovely organic soil additive to feed healthy, showy flowers next season.

Collecting Seeds

There is something both rewarding and reassuring in the continuity represented by the natural process of the growth cycle – plants going to seed in fall, only to break out in bloom again the following spring. Collecting seeds from your favorite garden plants is simple, rewarding, economical and makes a wonderful gift to share with gardening friends and family.

Healthy plants grow from healthy seeds and it’s as simple as following the plant’s natural cycle. After the flowers have finished blooming, the plant will start to die off and go to seed. Seed pods form; however, the seeds are not yet ready to be collected. They need to ripen, rather like an apple or pear.

You need to collect seeds at just the right time, which is before the seed pods open and the seeds are dispersed. Seeds that are ripe and ready for collection have brown pods that are starting to crack open. The seeds themselves are also a shiny brown or black in color. Check the plants from which you want to collect seeds when you deadhead them. The seed pods can be found just below the faded flower.

The best time to collect seeds is around noon on a windless and sunny day just before the seed pods crack open. You will need secateurs or sharp scissors, large envelopes in which to put the seeds and a pen so that you can label the envelopes (you’ll never be able to remember in exactly which envelope you put the Foxglove seeds).

Working quickly, snip off the seed heads directly into a marked envelope. Once you’ve finished collecting the pods put the envelopes in a dry place and check them regularly to see if they have opened. Usually, after about one week you can encourage the seeds to come out by opening the pods yourself if there are no signs of it happening on its own. You get a lot of unwanted debris along with your seeds and separating the seeds from the husks and chaff takes a bit of experience, but practice makes perfect. Try a tea strainer or fine wire mesh. Next, place the clean seeds into smaller, labeled envelopes and store them in a cool, dry and airy location until you are ready to sow them or give them as gifts.

A word of warning about hybrids and cross-pollinated first-generation plants (F1 hybrids). An F1 hybrid can only be reproduced by cross-pollinating the parent plants; it cannot grow from seed. Likewise, hybrids which have been bred for a specific feature, such as color, still contain the genes for other colors and if they have been cross-pollinated (simply by growing in the vicinity of the same plant species that has different colored flowers), the seeds of the hybrid will grow into plants that produce flowers of a different color to the parent plant.

Double the Value – Double the Beauty

The Michigan Bulb Co. specializes in high quality bulbs, shrubs, roses, garden tools and even trees and vines that you can order online. No matter what type of plant you are looking for to beautify your garden, they are sure to have an attractive offer to suit your needs. Check out their Buy One, Get One Free specials.

Click here for $20 off your first order of $50 or more at Michigan Bulb!

You have received this newsletter from cheapseeds.com, a supplier of large packets of flower seeds for very little money.

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