You know that the danger of frost has passed when you see colorful potted flowering plants hanging from front porches and placed around homes and yards. The general rule of thumb is to wait for Mother’s Day before putting out plants, so that danger of frost has passed.
Once you do purchase and place flowering plants outdoors, be sure to care for them so their beauty lasts all season, says Jamie Swanson, owner of S & H Nursery, 5956 McCurry Road in Roscoe.
“In order to keep those hanging baskets as beautiful as when you purchased them, you need to check them daily to see if they need to be watered,” she says. “The object of watering is to find that ‘happy medium,’ neither too wet nor too dry, because too much or too little water can be detrimental.”
In hot, dry and windy conditions, extra watering may be needed and plants should be checked more often. Carefully read labels to make sure your plant is in the right location for the lighting condition it needs – full or partial sun or shade.
Most flowering plants need to be fertilized and deadheaded weekly to look their best. Deadheading means snipping off withered blooms at the first notch in the stem. This signals the plant to send nutrients to new blooms, Swanson says.
If you enjoy attracting wildlife, select plants accordingly.
“Some flowers, like lantana, an annual with multi-colored blooms and sweet aroma, are a huge draw for hummingbirds and butterflies,” she says.
Colorful Wave petunias also attract birds and butterflies and are one of the most popular flowers used in sunny-location hanging baskets because of the fullness and variety of colors they offer.
Potted arrangements look more interesting if they contain a variety of color, texture and fullness, she says. Spikes and other upward-growing plants give height, while big-leafed or colorful foliage plants such as coleus provide fullness. Trailing vines and flowers like creeping Jenny and lobelia add dimension and fullness. Other popular flowers for baskets and pots include begonia, fuchsia, million bells (also called calibrachoa or trailing petunia) and many varieties of geranium.
It’s nearly time to put flowers outdoors, so have fun planning and see you at the greenhouse! ❚