Having Fun With Nature
Tips & Terms
Flowers add so much enjoyment to your yard, balcony, or window sill.
If you're convinced you have a "brown thumb" and kill everything you buy, it probably isn't your fault: someone has been selling you the wrong plants. Our big box stores stock flowers that will NEVER grow in this area.
You need to do a little research on your location, soil type, and the individual requirements of the plants you want to grow.
The USDA has a wonderful map that tells you your hardiness zone. That way you know if the plant can survive in your temperature extremes.
Your County Extension Agent is a wonderful resource. Bring a soil sample to the agent and, for a very small fee, an analysis will be run and you'll find out the soil pH and what should be added to the soil.
Pink Salvia greggii
White Salvia greggii
Don't let the numbers "5-10-5" confuse you. The first number (Nitrogen) makes leaves green; the second number (Phosphorus) makes more flowers; the third number (Potassium) makes roots grow. So, think " Leaves-Flowers-Roots " and you've deciphered the numbers.
The last item, finding out what the plant needs, can be picked up from the label on a new plant, or by visiting the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, do a search on your state and the plant name, and you're set.
Choosing a Fower Bed Site
It's a temptation to plant shade loving plants under a large tree, but don't do it. Your plants will love the shade, but the tree will suck up all the water. What you might want to do is plant in containers under the tree. That way you can water the containers as needed and even move them around a bit to change the look.
These plants come back every year. However, just because the label says "perrenial", don't believe it. A perrenial where we are in Texas may be an annual in Canada.
Fertilize these lightly in the spring and when buds start to bloom. Do not fertilize after August or you will stimulate growth into the winter.
These are plants that are supposed to last one season. If protected, they can last longer.
Because they spend a lot of energy growing, blooming, and setting seed, they need more fertilizer than other plants. They will be happy with a well balanced fertilizer and mulch to kep the weeds down and stabilize the soil temperature.
These plants grow the first season and bloom and set seed the second. If you want yearly blooms, plant them yearly and they will behave as annuals.
Fertilize these plants as you would annuals.
Flowers die , ususally because they are annuals. But sometimes they die because they are in the wrong place, had insufficient water or nutrients, were damaged, or any number of other things.
We have found that plants that do the best are "native" to our area. Of course, what's native in central Texas isn't native in west Texas, and sure isn't native in Michigan!
Texas Parks and Wildlife has a great database of Texas plants, the Texas Plant Information Database.
For those not in Texas, the NRCS site above and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site will be of tremendous help in finding plants native to your areas.
Choosing colors for your flower bed is easy: pick what you like. There is nothing duller than a bed full of flowers that are all shades of 1 color. Mix 'em up!
If you have at least three colors in a bed, each will stand out instead of blending into the general color scheme.
Mother Nature plants a colorful palette and you should, too.
White Salvia greggii
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