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GardenSMART :: Beginner's Guide to Planting Seasonal Flowers

Beginner's Guide to Planting Seasonal Flowers

By The National Association of Landscape Professionals

For those of us without a "green thumb," growing flowers in outdoor planting beds can be intimidating. In practice, however, it can be a lot easier than you'd imagine if you know tricks that professionals use. Start with a small bed and see how easy it can be. Here are some tips to get you started:

Select a sunny location that is easy to water. Clear a planting bed of grass and weeds by turning the soil and removing as much of the vegetation as possible. Using a weed control product a few days before bed preparation may help in this process. As you will need to water the bed regularly, make sure it is convenient to a hose or watering source.

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The soil should be amended with organic material to create a fluffy soil that will hold moisture and drain well. A large bag of potting mix will work well for flower soil. You will need about a 3-inch depth of prepped soil.

Create a stage on which to plant your flowers. The bed should slope downward toward the viewing area. Creating this slope toward the viewer insures that every flower in the bed will be visible. If the bed is flat or slopes away from the viewer, only the first row of flowers will be visible.

Maximize the impact of flowers:

  • Plant masses of flowers, not just a couple of flowers here and there.
  • Bright colors show best, but be careful of mixing too many different colors. Select flowers that are complimentary tones to one another.
  • Light colors make beds look bigger and dark colors make them look smaller.

Buy flowers from a location that sells lots of flowers to insure that you get fresh plant material.

  • Ask for advice on the best plants for your location and the time of year.
  • Pot size is your choice. Small cell pack plants save some money but 4 to 6 inch pots create a mature look more quickly.
  • Tease a plant out of the pot or cell pack to see that the roots are well developed.
  • If possible, plant the flowers the same day you buy them.

Planting is simple but here are some important need-to-knows:

  • Plant spacing should be 8" to 10" with small cell pack plants and 12" to 18" with 4 to 6 inch pots.
  • Set plants in triangular spacing, starting at the front of the bed and moving toward the back. When done correctly, you can't see rows of plants from the primary viewing angle.
  • Gently tease open the roots on each plant as you set it into the bed and plant it to the same depth as it was in the container.
  • Leave a border around the bed so flowers have room to grow without spreading over the lawn or sidewalk.
  • Fertilize liberally with a slow release fertilizer and leave it on the soil surface.

Water and enjoy. Keep soil moist, but not waterlogged, with frequent watering until plants are well established. If you lose a few flowers at the front of the bed you can always steal a few from the back row to fill in the open spaces.

Landscape professionals are a tremendous resource for help with plant selection and care and maintenance. Find a professional near you for advice and guidance.


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