Flowers have the same basic needs as other garden plants. Providing proper care to your flowering annuals results in prettier, healthier plants that last longer and provide a most impressive display.
While you enjoy your perennials for their fantastic foliage or beautiful blooms, it is really the roots you’re buying – because the roots allow the plants to come back every year. Use these tips to make sure your perennials get off to the right start.
Container-grown perennials are easy to plant and commonly available. Start by digging a hole that’s a little wider but no deeper than the pot your new perennial came in. Loosen the roots and spread them out if the plant has become rootbound (when the roots start to grow in circles around the edge of the pot). Then firm the soil in around the roots and water well.
Bare-root perennials are typically less expensive than container-grown versions of the same plant. They’re usually available in early spring and are sold as their name suggests – just the plant roots, usually packed in peat moss or a similar material. Soak the roots in water, before planting them in the ground.
Installing a new flower garden requires considerable time, effort, and money. Most flower gardens don’t reach their full potential for two to three years, especially when perennial flowers are the focus. It’s true that flower gardens need more maintenance than lawns or mulched shrub areas, but it doesn’t take a special skill set to care for a thriving garden.
Most gardeners in Kenya find growing a beautiful bed of simple flowers is easier than keeping houseplants alive. It seems that one day they’re fine and the next they’re dropping leaves and are infested with aphids, mealybugs or spider mites. It’s actually not that difficult to keep houseplants happy, but you do need to pay attention to their basic needs, and take care of any pest problems right away.
All plants need food, water and sunlight to survive, but different plants require different amounts of each. This is just as true with houseplants as it is for the plants in your garden. For example, ficus trees generally thrive with indirect light and moist soil, whereas cacti require bright light and dry soil. If you are considering hiring a landscaping service to help you maintain and take care of your flower plants in Kenya, contact Appeala Landscaping Kenya today to speak with one of our experts.
1. Manage Your Soil Accordingly And Fine-tune The Surroundings
If you’ve amended and tilled your garden soil until it’s as fluffy as pancake mix, you’ve gotten your flowers off to a good start. Don’t be surprised if, the following season, the soil looks like the same hardpan you had before you started the garden. Earthworms and microbes feed on organic matter in the soil, and your flowers have been feeding on this matter too.
Add new organic matter, like compost, leaf mold, or manure to your flowerbeds every year to nourish young plants and improve soil tilth, whether you have heavy clay soil or lean, sandy soil. A three-inch layer of mulch will protect delicate feeder roots, and will moderate soil temperatures. Always plant in sterile soil. That will minimize problems with fungus gnats and other soil-borne diseases.
Remember that air conditions can be very dry in the winter because of heated air. You can provide a little extra humidity with a pebble tray and some misting. Avoid placing plants in trouble spots, such as near heat or air conditioning ducts, on television or a radiator or between curtains and a frosty window.
2. Water Your Flowers Regularly
There’s much to consider about watering your flowers in Kenya: if, when, how, and how much. Too much water brings on rot, too little makes flowers wither and die. Overhead watering can encourage the spread of disease, and some watering systems deliver more water into the atmosphere than into the soil, where it’s needed. Follow plant tag watering suggestions, and consider updating your irrigation system if you’re tired of moving your oscillating sprinkler around your yard every other day.
There’s no one-size fits all rule for watering perennials in Kenya. Some varieties stand up to drought and others need to be kept moist all the time.
Keep your plants healthier and make watering a breeze by grouping plants by their water needs. Moisture-loving perennials include lysimachia, cardinal flower, perennial hibiscus, astilbe, marsh marigold, turtlehead, and pitcher plant. Perennials that do better in dry soil include lamb’s ears, lavender, yarrow, salvias, thyme, penstemon, and purple coneflower.
Some perennials are prone to a common disease called powdery mildew. It creates a gray or white fuzzy growth on the leaves. To keep this, and many other fungal diseases at bay, water perennials in the morning or early afternoon hours and use a soaker hose (shown here at the right) instead of a sprinkler. You often see powdery mildew on asters, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, columbine, coreopsis, phlox, and salvias.
Alternating periods of drought and flood can really stress a plant’s root system. Most plants like having their roots consistently moist, but not wet. Some plants prefer to dry out a bit between waterings. For new plants, check the care label or consult a good indoor plant book. This will help you determine the right watering routine. Self-watering planters make it easier to keep plants watered.
3. Apply Fertilizer To Your Flower Time After Time
If those numbers on the fertilizer packaging have always been a mystery to you, it’s time to get in the know: The standard system represents the available amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, by percent, in that order. The reason the numbers don’t add up to 100% is that the packages also contain filler materials, like sand or limestone. In general nitrogen promotes foliage growth, phosphorus develops root systems, and potassium helps flower formation. Flowering plants need all three nutrients.
If you have rich soil or amend it with compost or other forms of organic matter on a regular basis, you probably won’t need to feed your plants. But if you’re cursed with poor soil, fertilizing can be helpful.
In most cases, all you need is a general-purpose garden fertilizer. Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging. You might be tempted to use more fertilizer than is recommended, but you can have too much of a good thing. Overfertilization may make your plants flower less, suffer root injury, or even kill your perennials.
Indoor plants also need regular fertilizing to maintain healthy growth. A great all-around fertilizer that can be added right to your watering can is Plant Health Care for Seedlings and Houseplants. It is a balanced formula that contains a 6-12-6 fertilizer, humic and amino acids, and vitamins. As a general rule, most houseplants should be fertilized from January through September, and should then be allowed to “rest” for a few months.
4. Provide The Right Light
Flowers that require full sun will thrive in a south-facing window. East-and west-facing windows have moderate sun. North windows have very little sun. Make sure you choose houseplants that will thrive on the amount of light you can provide. Healthy plants will be able to ward off pests and disease much better than weak plants.
5. Control, Prevent and Treat Insect Pest
Different flowers attract different insect pests, but you probably know that some insects are beneficial in the garden; don’t assume every creepy-crawly on your plants is there for a snack. Some insect pests are nocturnal or too tiny for detection, so look for clues in the damage they leave behind. Caterpillars chew leaves from the edges inward, while beetles leave holes in the middle of leaves. Look at pictures of aphids and whiteflies and learn to identify these pests that congregate in large groups.
Choose insect controls that yield the highest pest death rate with the least impact to the environment, including bees and other beneficials. You can choose from traps and barriers; sprays and powders; or biological controls like predatory insects and nematodes. Inspect new plants before bringing them indoors.
Check houseplants for disease or insects before you buy them. Then isolate them for a couple weeks, just to make sure there are no problems. Each time you water your plants, inspect both sides of the leaves for signs of pests or disease.
Wash smooth-leaved houseplants with a moist, soft cloth and some insecticidal soap, such as Neem Oil Spray. For plants with many small leaves, use a hand sprayer or sink sprayer to douse them with water. Another option is to place the plant under a shower head and spray it. In all cases, the water should be lukewarm — not cold or hot. You can add a few drops of mild liquid dishwashing soap or insecticidal soap to the water as well.
6. Control and Prevent Weeds
Besides looking ugly, weeds cause other problems in the flower garden. Weeds usurp water and nutrients that your flowers need, and weeds provide a habitat for many garden insect pests. Control weeds early and often, both because small weeds are easier to kill than large ones, and because large weeds produce seeds for the next generation. You have three options for weed control in the flower bed: preventing them in the first place, spraying them, and using mechanical options like hand pulling or hoeing.
7. Control, Prevent and Treat Diseases
If your flowers are in decline, it’s important to determine whether the culprit is an insect or a disease process. Spraying insecticide willy-nilly on a plant covered with rust fungus isn’t going to help. Practicing good plant culture, like proper plant spacing and watering techniques, goes a long way to reducing disease problems. Following recommended exposure guidelines also keeps flowers vigorous and able to resist disease.
If disease strikes you anyways, you can treat with fungicide or selective pruning techniques. In severe cases, sometimes it’s best to remove the plant and replace with a hardier cultivar.
8. Deadhead Your Flowers
Deadheading simply means cutting the faded flowers off your plants. It makes your plants look better and it prevents them from setting seed so you don’t have a mess of coneflowers, phlox, columbine, or heliopsis seedlings popping up in your garden.
Happily, many perennials respond to deadheading by putting out more blooms. Examples of rebloomers include threadleaf coreopsis, delphinium, phlox, veronica, and yarrow.
Regularly deadhead and divide your perennials to keep them healthy and looking beautiful. Deadheading keeps plants looking tidy and prolongs the bloom period. Start deadheading as soon as you see the flowers fade and the petals begin to fall. Remove part of the stem as well as the faded flower, so that you’re sure to get the seed pod, too. With some flowers, such as petunias, you can pull off the petal part and think you’ve done the job, but the seed pod remains. Use your fingers to pinch off flowers with fleshy stems. Use pruners for stiffer or more stubborn flowers.
9. Stake Your Flowers
Give taller perennials such as delphiniums, hollyhocks, and peonies support by staking them. Anchor single stems by inserting a rod or sturdy stick into the ground and tying the stem to it. Keep clump-forming plants with multiple stems standing by growing them through a hoop (as shown here).
Stake early! By staking early when you set out transplants or after seedlings reach a few inches tall, you can direct the stems to grow upward right from the start and tie them at intervals along the stake as they grow.
Tie stems to slender bamboo sticks, wooden stakes, or even straight and sturdy woody branches that you saved from your pruning chores. For light plants with sturdy stems, such as cosmos and cornflower, you can use twine or twist ties. For large-flowered plants, such as sunflowers, use plastic garden tape or strips of fabric.
10. Pinch And Prune Your Flowers
Pinch plants when they’re young — before they develop long stems. Remove the tip growth by pinching above a set of leaves. To promote good overall shape, pinch both upright and side stems. When you have a mass of plants in the bed, pinch back the tallest ones so that they don’t shoot up past their neighbors. Good candidates for pinching include petunias, snapdragons, impatiens, chrysanthemums, marguerites, and geraniums.
Pruning is the process of cutting back plants to keep them within the boundaries that you’ve set and to promote bushier growth. Annuals rarely need the heavy-duty pruning that perennials and shrubs demand. Trim rangy, floppy, or sprawling stems as often as necessary to keep them under control. Make cuts just above a set of leaves or side shoot to promote both bushiness and new buds.
11. Mulch Your Flowers
A mulch is simply a soil cover. Mulching an annual garden cuts down on the amount of water needed and helps control weeds. The soil is cooled and protected by the application of a top layer of some type of material. As long as the material is attractive, you’ll have a neat-looking garden, to boot. A layer of mulch also helps hide drip irrigation tubes. Your mulching schedule really depends on the type of annuals you grow and when you plant them.
Water your perennials well after you plant them. Then lay a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil around your new plants. The mulch will help the soil hold moisture and prevent weeds from growing.
Perennials that are reliably cold hardy in your region shouldn’t need any special winter care. But spreading a layer of mulch over them after the soil freezes can help prevent winter damage during an especially cold season.
12. Divide Your Plants
One of the best things about perennials is that they grow bigger and better each year. But many will start to crowd themselves out if they get too big. Keep them performing well by digging them out of the ground and splitting them into smaller chunks every three or four years.
Early spring and fall are the best times to divide most perennials. A couple of exceptions include bearded iris and hosta; split these perennials in summer.
If you are looking for a good landscaping company in Kenya to help you maintain and take care of your flower plants, look no further than Appeala Landscaping Kenya. Contact us today. We can also supply and install flower plants, landscaping plants, fruit plants, vegetable crops, cut flowers and lawn grass, among other plants.