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Cass County Extension

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Annual Flower Culture

1.  Sources of Information
      - Extension Bulletins
      - Gardening Books (usually not written for our area)
      - Seed Catalogs (nice pictures but be wary of claims made)

2.  Selecting a Site

      - View
         a. from home
         b. from inside yard
         c. from outside the yard

3. Characteristics of Site

      - Light received each day
         a. Full sun (8 hours or more)
         b. Partial sun (5-7 hours of direct sun)
         c. Partial shade (dappled sunlight)
         d. Shade (generally not good for blooming plants)

      - Loose, fertile, well drained soil

      - Availability of Water

      - Wind
         a. "open" area
         b. protected area

      - Presence of tree and shrub roots

4. Planning Guidelines (Flower Bed Planning)

5. Site Preparation

      - New Site
         a. Remove sod or kill grass with a herbicide
         b. Control weeds especially perennials (quackgrass & thistles)

      - Soil Preparation
         a. Add organic matter, well rotted manure or compost (no sand)
            - 4 bushels of compost per 100 sq. ft. of garden area
         b. Raised beds
            - earlier warm up in the spring and quicker to dry out
            - good in areas under trees etc. where shallow roots would compete
         c. Containers can be used on decks, patios or in other areas
         d. Test soil if desired
            - Normal fertilizer recommendation without testing
                 2 lbs. 5-10-5 per 100 sq. ft. of garden area
                 5 lbs. well rotted manure per 100 sq. ft.
                 Don't add lime
                 Don't use a "Weed & Feed" fertilizer in the garden
         e. Roto-till or spade to the depth of 4-6"
         f. Working wet, clay soil will give you brick-hard chunks

6. Planting

      - Purchase Plants
         a. more expensive but are ready to plant; can see what your getting
         b. pinch off flowers and buds at planting; will establish better.

      - Seed indoors or directly into garden.
         a. easy ones to try include: geraniums, petunias & marigolds
         b. starting seeds
            - When to start (check seed packet or reference material)
            - Use sterile soil mix to help prevent damping off
            - Light or dark for germination
            - Cover with plastic film to hold moisture and heat
            - After germination, remove plastic and provide good light
            - Artificial light vs. natural light
            - Don't overwater
         c. Transplanting into the garden
            - Hardening off plants
            - Plant into garden about Memorial Day
            - Best in late afternoon, or on cloudy days with little wind
            - Disturb roots as little as possible
            - Don't bury leaves; remove flowers and buds
            - Starter Fertilizer
         d. Planting seed into garden
            - Check seed packet or reference material for date
            - Depth of planting (on heavy, clay soil; plant shallow)

7. Maintaining the Garden

      - Watering
         a. Important after planting & when flower buds are forming
         b. Don't over water; water deeply to encourage a deep root system
         c. Need 1-1" per week during dry periods (65-130 gal. per 100 sq. ft.)
         d. Drip Irrigation and Soakers vs. Overhead Sprinklers
            -Save water
            -Less water on the leaves; reduces chances of a foliar disease
            -Foliage should never remain wet overnight

      - Fertilizing
         a. For best bloom use fertilizers low in nitrogen and potassium
            - higher in phosphorous e.g. (10-20-10)
         b. Can be applied to the foliage or watered into the root area

      - Mulches
         a. A 2-4" layer should be adequate
         b. Conserve soil moisture, keep soil cooler, and reduce water needs
         c. Blocks sun from germinating weed seeds
         d. Helps reduce soil compaction
         e. Includes: chopped leaves, peat moss, grass clippings, wood chips,
            -  fabric, compost, and decorative rocks
         f. Slugs love mulch

      - Weeding
         a. Mulch will help control weeds
         b. Remove weeds when small
         c. Weed in the heat of the day (pick up & dispose of purslane)
         d. Don't water on the same day as you weed
         e. Deep hoeing can damage plant roots and expose more weed seeds
         f. Don't use herbicides in the home garden
            - may spot treat "hard to control weeds" with Round-up.
            - Be careful, Round-up kills everything it touches

      - Deadheading
         a. Remove spent blooms to improve appearance and to extend bloom

      - Staking
         a. Often done for flowers with heavy flower heads (Lisianthus)

      - Pinching
         a. To produce bushier, more compact plants
            - petunias, snapdragons until early July

Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707

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