Tag Archive for: Cool-season annuals

There is a gardening task that I both enjoy and dread when I have to do it twice every year.  

Now, I am not only doing it for myself, but also for my mother-in-law.

So what it is this task?

The seasonal task of changing out flowering annuals or in this case perennials, that are treated as annuals.

I had to this last Sunday when we stopped by for dinner.  Since my father-in-law’s death in September, we come over with the kids every Sunday and help around the house and garden and then have dinner. 

My mother-in-law hasn’t felt like cooking much and likes the idea of having us trying a different kind of pizza each week in order to determine what restaurant makes the best.  So far Papa John’s and Pizza Hut are our favorites….but there are still more to try.  The kids especially enjoy eating pizza every week ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting ready to pull out the Vinca and plant Red Geraniums

Getting ready to pull out the Vinca and plant Red Geraniums

I blogged earlier about searching 3 different nurseries for plants to replace those that had died in my mother-in-law’s garden.  But, I also had to buy Geraniums (Pelargoniums) as well.

Now, I couldn’t buy just any Geraniums….I had to buy red ones – not orange and definitely not pink.  You see, my mother-in-law wants the garden to look the exact same as it did when my father-in-law was alive and did the work himself.

I must admit, that I was a bit late in doing this – I usually wait until late October to change out my warm-season flowering plants for cool-season ones.  But, there was still plenty of time before the cold weather settled in.

Okay, here is that part that I dread….

Flowering annuals

Flowering annuals

It is so hard to pull out beautiful flowering plants.

Now I realize that technically, I could leave them in their pots and these Vinca would survive our winter as long as they were protected from frost and would flower again in spring.

Or, I could transplant them elsewhere and overwinter them in an out of the way place.

But the majority of people just rip them out and throw them out (or put them on their compost pile) since they are relatively inexpensive.

I admit that I pulled them out and threw them out (please don’t hate me for pulling out perfectly good plants ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now it was time to plant the red Geraniums (which are really Pelargoniums, but everyone including the nursery calls them Geraniums, so I will too).

There was a potential problem, however.  You see, my mother-in-law was used to my father-in-law planting huge, red Geraniums in full bloom.  But, I could not find large red Geraniums, much less ones in full bloom…

Flowering annuals

Flowering annuals

From a horticulturist’s point of view – it is better to select flowering plants that have few flowers in the nursery because the transplanting process is stressful for plants and those in full flower will soon drop their flowers.  When buying those that haven’t bloomed yet, you give the plant more resources to grow roots and will soon be rewarded with blooms that will last longer.

I was tempted to tell my mother-in-law this, hoping that it would make her feel better about the lack of blooms.  But it turns out that she didn’t mind, so I didn’t tell her.

I sprinkled slow-release fertilizer before I planted the Geraniums and will follow-up in a couple of weeks with a liquid fertilizer, just like my father-in-law did.

Of course, you can go the organic route if you prefer.  There are plenty of products available at your local nursery and even stores like Home Depot and Lowes are carrying organic fertilizers.

In addition to the red Geraniums, I also had to plant Bacoba around the potted Geraniums.  It can be hard sometimes to find Bacoba and of course I had trouble too.

But, I found a solution. I found a decorative container filled with Verbena and Bacoba at the nursery, so I bought it and used the Bacoba in the container.

Flowering annuals

And then my husband planted the Verbena, which replaced the one that died in their front garden last year…

Flowering annuals

So I killed two birds with one stone (although I would never literally kill a bird ๐Ÿ˜‰

**********************************

On a personal note….life is crazy, but good.

I will update you soon on the happenings in my personal life.

I hope you are all enjoying this fall season ๐Ÿ™‚

Flowers From Abroadโ€ฆ.

A few days ago, you may remember my post about my uncontrolled container plants.

uncontrolled container plants

Well, I pulled out some of my excess Trailing Lantana, which can be used in other areas of my garden.

Then I cut back the remaining Lantana and my Sweet Potato vine.

At this point, things were looking much neater, if a little bare.

I only bought a few new plants since I decided to keep much of my existing perennials.

uncontrolled container plants

I purchased Alyssum because I love their sweet fragrance.

I also bought Johnny-Jump-Ups, which are little Violas that are native to Spain.

I remember growing them in my little garden as a child and I loved how easily they grew for me.

Lastly, I purchased two Lavender.  They make great container plants and I love their flowers.

And so I began….

First, I dug a hole for my Lavender and then as I was removing the container, I discovered that they were extremely root bound.

uncontrolled container plants

Root-bound plants aren’t uncommon and are a result of being in the container too long.  The roots start growing round and round since they can’t grow outward.

If you find yourself with a root-bound plant, it is easy to fix.

Here’s how…

roots

You simply make cuts to the roots.  This forces the roots to stop growing around and around and makes them grow outward into the surrounding soil.

I used my hand pruners to make the cuts, but you can use strong scissors or even a box cutter.

After you make the cuts, you need to ‘work’ the root ball.  What I mean by this is give it a ‘massage’.  This helps to further loosen the root ball and will help your plant to transplant much more easily….

roots

Now my Lavender is ready to plant.

So, you may be wondering what happens if you don’t cut and loosen the roots of a root-bound plant?  Well, the roots will tend not to grow out into the soil, where there is moisture and nutrients and you plant will not do all that well.

After I was finished planting, my containers looked nice a neat – but a bit bare.  It will take a couple of weeks for my plants to grow and cover the bare spots.

Reigning in the Chaos of My Containers...

In my purple container, I planted a mixture of Johnny-Jump-Ups and Alyssum.

In my yellow container.  I planted one of my Lavender and pruned back my Sweet Potato Vine, which will grow back quickly.

My blue container has a Lavender and White Trailing Lantana growing.  I pruned the Lantana back but like the vine, it will grow fast.

**Although both the Sweet Potato Vine and my Trailing Lantana are susceptible to frost damage – they are protected because my containers are located underneath the overhang of my house.

You may be wondering why I don’t fill my pots with colorful cool-season annuals such as Petunias, Pansies, Snapdragons and Stock?

I was thinking about this the other day and I think it is because when I managed landscapes, I was responsible for thousands of colorful annuals being planted twice a year, keeping them alive, fertilizing them often and trying to keep them from being eaten by Javelina and rabbits.

I also know a designer who creates beautiful containers filled with both annuals and perennials every year…

Maggie

Her name is Maggie and someday, I may even try to recreate one of her beautiful container designs in my own containers.

But for now, I am happy with my humble containers.

I will show you some good ideas for cool-season container plantings with lots of color in the next week.  (Just because I didn’t plant that many in my own garden doesn’t mean I don’t know how ๐Ÿ˜‰

*****************************

Baby watch update:

Two days overdue.

I have a feeling it might come today, but then, I have been known to be wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ll let you know!