Blooming Garden Flowers – Tips On Buying

Spring flowering annuals are filling garden shops across Birmingham

Annual salvia planted last week in April from a 4 inch pot

Petunia with a nice color mix of flowers

Garden shops are at their most colorful time now. And yes, it is a perfect time to shop. There are lots of differences in the big box and big home improvement center plants even if they are coming from the same wholesale source as the locally owned garden shop. The most important thing I see in the big stores is that most of the time watering is inadequate, and something always seems to be wilting. Also with mass tray delivery the holding area can be full of plants that are held because similar plants have not sold. These are still packaged for shipping. Also the price at these stores are generally similar and in some cases higher than your local garden center. The big store advantage is the wide range of garden supply products they carry and in many cases, these products are cheaper but not necessarily better. So regardless of where you go here are a few of my favorite tips.

  • Buy for the space you want to plant them. If in containers look for plants that bloom well in crowed conditions. If planting for mass in the gardens think of the look it will produce in partial and full bloom.
  • Sunny and shady space demand a very different type of plant. Many of the plants that say full sun on the tag also do well with 4-6 hours of sun a day, while shade loving plants never like direct sun. For plants that are not heat tolerant to our area, do a bit of instant research on you cell phone and see what works for the area you want to plant them.
  • Watch for plants that are so pot bound. They always look a bit wilted. In these cases the plants can be divided and get several plants or when you plant you must break up the root ball from just circling the pot so the roots will branch out into the soil you are planting them.
  • Know the expected size of the plant at maturity you are buying and space accordingly. Be sure you do not space them too far apart if you want to create a massing color look.
  • Don’t plant your flowers in a polka dot pattern. Mixing colors is hard. I try to put no more than three colors together and have a dominant color either in number of plants or the color of one plant dominates the others. Never forget one single color can be very effective.
  • Know if the plants you are buying are repeat bloomers which bloom in cycles or continuous bloomers that are always producing new flowers. In both cases removing flowers when finished blooming help keep plants blooming throughout the growing season.
  • Correct watering and a regular fertilizing program will keep them in bloom all summer. When plants dry out it hurts blooming and if over watered expect them to rot and die. For most flowering plants a liquid fertilizer is great, and follow label direction on amount of product mixed with water and application times.
  • And finally the labels on plant that are put in at the grower can provide very valuable and good information. Use this information for a greater chance of success.

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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