Bedding Plants

yellow purple red orange and white flower bedIt is always wise to add a high quality, organic mulch to the soil, whenever planting bedding plants, especially in existing beds where bedding plants are being replaced. Even if the soil still appears to contain a lot of organic matter from last season’s planting, adding new mulch increases and replenishes beneficial micro-organisms, which are vitally necessary for maintaining the plants resistance to disease. Also, well mulched beds need less fertilizer, and have increased resistance to insect damage, since insects are more attracted to stressed plants.

The longevity, appearance, speed of growth, degree of drought tolerance and vitality depend, in direct proportion, upon the amount and quality of natural amendments added to the soil. Proper amending improves drainage. It also greatly increases the number of beneficial fungi and bacteria in the soil, thus reducing the effects of harmful fungi. More amendments (more hums) means lower soil PH which means better utilization of micronutrients. The effect is better, faster, more attractive growth, as well as better disease resistance. Faster growth means less weed problems. Since weeds are nature’s way to improve poor soil, well amended soil has fewer weed problems. Finally, good rich soil attracts earthworms, which provide a constant supply of high quality fertilizer as well as soil aeration.

Begonia ‘Richmondensis’

Begonia richmondensis with pink flowersThis sturdy plant grows two feet tall and has shiny, crisp green leaves with deeply serrated edges and bronzy red undersides.

The profuse flowers are red in the bud and pink when open. The plants will over-winter in mild climates and are long lived. They can be cut back to produce new growth. Excellent for shady areas, they need ample moisture.

Dymondia Margariatae

Dymondia margaretae with yellow flowersLow-growing, compact plant with attractive saw-edged leaves of grayish green, edged with whit. The yellow daisy like flowers are one half an inch across and grow close to the foliage. Dymondia is not fussy about soil and is drought tolerant, once established. It prefers a sunny location and is hardy to 20 degrees F. Because it is slow growing it retains a neat appearance and is ideal for small plantings, rock gardens, or walkway strips.

Cultural Tip

Ivy Geranium plant with pink flowersOne of the easiest color plants to “spruce up” are Balcan Ivy Geraniums. Basically, all you need to do to freshen up a tired or woody appearance, is to trim them back and feed them. They respond very rapidly, and within just 2 or 3 weeks, you will notice significant resurgence to both foliage and flower buds.

Verbena groundcover with purple flowersVerbenas are fast covering, brilliantly colorful, and easy to care for. These hints may assist you in maintaining their appearance; trim back 50-60% of top growth with a weed eater once per year, wait one week and then feed with a balanced fertilizer. When Verbenas want to be fed, their green will fade, and they will not put out new flowers. Use a balanced fertilizer—Verbenas may go slightly dormant in the winter, looking faded and purplish in foliage. This is natural. Once or twice each year, fill in empty spots from removed dead plants with a few new ones. This will keep the bed perpetually full and beautiful. Treat for mildew as soon as it appears. We have found great results with Bayleton. (Check with a licensed PCA for official recommendations).