Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ideas for Spring

Pansy bowl with snow!
I am really getting eager to start planting, but what a surprise this morning’s snow was! Your pansies, violas, snapdragons, and other cool season annuals will have survived just fine but please do remember that the last frost date for our area is May 15th. Warm season veg crops and annuals will have to wait!  My friend Janice sent me this picture of her pansy bowl on Monday morning! 

Giant double zinnias
I do tend to be a creature of habit and try to stick with what I know works, but it is fun to change things up once in a while and I plan to do that this year in my annual beds. For the last several years I have planted wax begonias in the shady back beds and salvia in the sunny front beds. I haven’t been happy with the performance of the begonias, tho that could be a function of watering. This year I think I will use impatiens in the back (and remember to water more frequently) and put the begonias up front. They really do work well in sunny areas, though most people use them for shadier spots.

Zinnias in containers
 If you are thinking of doing something different this year, the National Gardening Bureau has proclaimed 2011 “The Year of the Zinnia.” There are some plants that are so common we often forget about using them. I think zinnias fall into that category. They are truly an “old fashioned” annual that most people remember from Grandma’s garden. They are easy to grow from seed, come in a variety of heights and colors, and make an outstanding flower for the cut flower garden.

Sadly, the cut flower garden is becoming a thing of the past. We are using annuals as more of a ground cover plant or in containers rather than as a tall, stately garden flower and we don’t want to deadhead. Well, fear not. The plant breeders of the world know this about us and have bred some zinnias just for this purpose. The “Profusion” and “Zahara” series fill this bill perfectly. The Zahara series was an AAS (All America Selection) 2010 selection for its larger flowers and many color variations.
Zahara Zinnias

Zinnias have been given the AAS designation because they are easy to grow, disease resistant and grow well in a variety of conditions. They come in a variety of heights, colors, and flower forms. They need at least 6 hours of sun and, while they are not heavy feeders, they should be fertilized at least twice during the growing season. They perform well in hot weather but don’t forget to water them.

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