Annuals That Need Help

These impatiens are starving and need help to look good this fall.

All around town annuals are looking bad. It could be because of several things. Here are a few tips to get them looking good this fall and hopefully have a good show of blooms. The shade type impatiens were planted in late May and had irrigation when needed. They looked very good for most of the summer but now need attention. The reason they look so poor and have stopped blooming is they need to be fertilized. The combination of lots of summer rain and a good layer of bark mulch around the plants has basically exhausted nutrients they need for a consistent flush of blooms and healthy plants. This is typical of many flowering annuals like marigolds, vinca, impatiens (both sun and shade), portulaca, etc.
Now if your annuals still look bad, and you have kept them fertilized, watered, and mulched, the problem might be simply too much water. Or the plant might have an insect problem and/or disease. Pull away the mulch and see if the soil is very wet or mushy. If so, pull the mulch away from the plants and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. If you think it is an insect or disease problem, take a plant sample to the Hanna Center at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (second floor), and they will diagnose the problem. It is a free service.
If your annuals look so bad that you want to replace them for fall, marigolds, petunias, and verbena are good fall replacements and are ready to be planted now.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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