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Pampering Your Perennials

October 31, 2008

Volume 1, Number 12

Inside this issue…

Pampering your Perennials


Designing a Perennial Bed around the Purple Coneflower


Stepping out in Style

perennials

Hello Gardeners,

If you’re one of the many flower gardeners who grow annuals and perennials from seed, you’re almost certainly aware that the flowering plants need some extra attention in the summer. In this issue we discuss basic summer plant care and show you how to prolong those beautiful blossoms all season long.

The perennial garden is indeed a source of perennial beauty; the blooms reappear summer after summer and when they disappear during the winter their bare foliage adds interest to your garden in the cold months. Design choices abound. We’ve put together a few ideas based on what is perhaps one of America’s favorite perennial plants, the Purple Coneflower, but you can adapt our suggestions to your own personal favorite.

You put so much care into designing your flowerbeds and your garden; shouldn’t your garden path also reflect your personal style? Cheapseeds offers a collection of original stepping stone molds that can be tinted and painted to create a unique product that will enhance your garden.

Pampering your Perennials

Like people, perennials respond to a bit of tender loving care by growing stronger — and in the case of flowers, producing lovelier blooms. Summer rings the maintenance bell for the perennial flower gardener. Even if your enthusiasm is wilting in the midsummer heat, performing a few routine gardening tasks will make sure your plants stay in shape. Gardeners of America, to your tools! It’s time for feeding and weeding, watering and controlling those pests!

Feeding

Mulch, mulch, mulch. Time to check the mulch and see if it needs replenishing or turning with a rake. Mulch layers should be around 2-3 inches thick and should not touch the plant stems. Apart from feeding the soil, mulch helps control weeds and it locks precious moisture into the soil. It acts like air conditioning on plant roots and keeps them cool while giving them essential nutrients.

Weeding

It’s in the nature of weeds to defy every effort to eradicate them and mulching certainly won’t be enough to stop them from cropping up, rather like those uninvited guests who come around at just the wrong moment. You’ll need to do weed spot checks and pull them out manually as you find them. It’s easier to do when they’re still small; once they grow large pulling them out of the ground can dislodge the roots of your perennials, so you’ll have to cut them out just below ground level using a sharp knife or a garden hoe. If that doesn’t work and you do have to resort to herbicides, read the instructions and be real careful not to damage your plants.

Watering

There’s no easy answer to the question of how much to water and when. You have to take the weather into account, the type of flower and the spot in the garden where they are growing (is it sunny, shady, how’s the drainage?) In general, deep, infrequent watering done in the morning is better than giving them lots of shallow watering, which only makes the plants more susceptible to disease.

Deadheading and Pruning

Nothing prolongs a bloom like deadheading and nothing is better for the plant’s vigorous regrowth than cutting it right back when it gets too tall for its own good. Removing the dead flowers not only keeps the garden neat and tidy, but it also stops the plant from going to seed. With the extra energy it gets from not producing seed, the plant can produce new flower buds during the season. Once the summer is over, you can let the plant go to seed in order to provide winter food for wildlife. Prune tall perennials when they just start to produce flower buds. This trick gives you more compact plants, but ones that produce more blossoms.

Pest Control

While on the watch for weeds, you should also be scouting for signs of garden pests. By taking timely action you can prevent a coordinated attack on your plants by some of the less desirable elements of garden society. If you do have to use chemical warfare, your local garden center can give you advice on organic or biological means of control which are less toxic to your plants and the environment than insecticides.
Designing a Perennial Garden around the Purple Coneflower

The Purple Coneflower is a native North American plant with splendid, large colorful blossoms. American Indians valued the plant for its remedial properties and used the roots as a herbal medicine against snake bites. Although it’s still called Purple Coneflower, nowadays the flowers come in a whole spectrum of colors. You can find them in reds, pinks, yellows, oranges and, of course, the traditional purple. It has a long blooming season, it’s easy to take care of, can survive the worst weather conditions, and the butterflies, bees and birds love it. It’s so popular it was voted Perennial Plant of the Year in 1998.

As with any type of garden design, you should first draw up your planting plan according to whether the flower beds are in sun or shade, whether they are backed up by hedges or fences and if they are visible from the house or the patio. Think about focal points that add beauty to the garden, like fountains, ponds or benches. You need to check the soil type, too. Then you can plan the planting with the Purple Coneflowers (or your own favorite flower) as the center of interest. Keep it simple is a good rule here too, the visual interest is created by mixing and matching the plant heights and colors.

The great thing about Purple Coneflowers is that they’ll grow under almost any conditions, but if you plant them in a flowerbed that has full sun and rich soil, the flowers will bloom brighter and longer. You just need to space them out around 18 – 24 inches apart so they have enough space to establish healthy root systems. To plant an entire flowerbed with Purple Coneflowers and still maintain harmony and interest, choose the plants in a variety of colors and heights. While the traditional purple ones are quite tall, growing to around 3-4 feet in height, some of the newer varieties, such as the white and pink ones grow much shorter giving you the possibility to be creative with your Coneflowers.

In order to turn your Purple Coneflower garden into a garden for all seasons and achieve a seasonal flow, you need to plan areas of trees and shrubs and ornamental grasses to provide some texture and contrast to offset the vivid color provided by the flowers. They’ll also provide interest when the plants have finished flowering. Since the Purple Coneflowers blossom from July through September, you’ll need some spring flowering plants too. These should be planted in an area where they can be out of sight once they’ve finished flowering and the Purple Coneflowers start.

Stepping out in Style

Make your own stepping stones out of a reusable mold from the Cheapseeds collection. Designs include all kinds of animals, birds and flowers. They can be painted, tinted, mixed and matched to create a lovely patio or garden path. And all the family can join in. All it takes is one afternoon. And after you’ve repaved that patio, you can use a lightweight plaster with the same mold to create a wall hanging.



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

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