A marigold in glorious bloom.
image by Tou Touke/sxc.hu
Think you have a brown thumb? With the right cultivating tips, even you can grow flowers, and almost anyone can follow steps to successfully grow annuals, such as marigolds, zinnias, petunias, geraniums and all the others that tempt us at garden centers and nurseries each spring. Correct planting, timely watering and fertilizing, weeding and a little pruning of dead flowers and stems are the keys to keeping your plants healthy, blooming and beautiful throughout the growing season.
Choose the place to plant, then select the flowers. Some plants thrive in full sun, others in dappled sun and some in full shade, such as under a large tree.
Dig holes a couple of inches wider and deeper than the nursery pots. Sprinkle in slow-release plant-food granules to fertilize flowers at the roots over several weeks.
Remove plants from nursery pots by holding them upside down while supporting plants as they slip out. Loosen root balls and soil, if they are compacted, but try to keep the plant and soil intact.
Place the root ball in the hole, keeping the stem upright and at the same soil level it was in the nursery pot. Fill in with enriched potting soil or a plant-starting medium, and firm it down.
Water immediately with a solution of root stimulator and fertilizer---a commonly available product. After that, never let the soil dry out, and fertilize flowers with liquid plant food every couple of weeks.
Follow the same steps for planting in containers such as window boxes and patio pots. Container soil dries out more quickly than ground soil, so check watering needs frequently, especially in hot weather.
Clip off dying blooms to encourage new flowering. This is called deadheading, and will prevent the annuals from expending energy on creating seeds instead of new blooms.
Revive straggly annuals and make them grow flowers again by trimming the plants by up to two-thirds of their mass to make a compact plant. Fertilize flowers generously with a liquid solution, then keep the soil moist, and within days, new stems and blooms will appear.