Flower beds contribute texture, color and a mixture of heights to the garden and landscape. Proper flower maintenance is essential for healthy, prolonged blooms. Seasonal care, required whether growing annuals, bulbs or perennials, gives flowers the nutrients, water and protection needed for growth. The amount of work necessary to maintain flowers depends in part on planning ahead and knowing when to perform each task.
Apply fertilizer in early spring and as needed throughout the growing season. Test the soil pH and adjust it with appropriate fertilizer for each variety of plant in your garden. Granules added around the base give the nutrients directly to each plant.
Remove all weeds from the bed. Doing this in spring prevents weeds from producing seeds and spreading. Remove weeds whenever they appear. Be sure to get the root out or the weed will grow back. Use a trowel to loosen the root while pulling on the weed at the crown.
Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch over your planting beds. The mulch conserves moisture and regulates soil temperatures. It aids in weed prevention. Mulch also enhances the look of the flower bed by giving it a clean finish. Choose dark hardwood mulch to make the flower colors pop.
Prune any dead or diseased material off of the flowers. Snip off dead flower heads to encourage re-blooming in annuals. Some early spring flowers, such as creeping phlox, will bloom a second time if they are trimmed back after the first bloom; cut the plants back by approximately half.
Water flowers during dry weather. Use a rain gauge to know when to water. If it rains less than one inch per week, water the flower beds to compensate. Consider installing a rain barrel on a downspout if your summers tend toward drought. The water from the barrel will save money. It also is better for the flowers and environment.
Provide support for tall or heavy flowers. The weight of the flower heads and wind cause them to lean or fall over. Choose from many available support systems or use a simple bamboo stake. Set the support in place before the plants flower or gain their full height.
Divide crowded perennials in early fall. Flowering bulbs get divided in the opposite season of bloom. Dig up the plants or bulbs. Gently separate bulbs and replant with proper spacing. The perennial root mass will require cutting. Use the shovel to cut them in half. Further divide large roots. Replant with adequate spacing for the mature plants.
Cut perennial flowers back heavily in late fall or early winter. Leave 3 to 6 inches above the crown. Remove annual flowers when they are dead. Save any seeds from them and compost the rest of the plant. All flowers beds benefit from refreshing the mulch. An additional inch or two suffices to protect the bulbs and roots through the winter.