How to Guide for flower beds
Some people may feel intimidated when it comes to gardening—especially when it comes to planting annual flower beds. But with a little planning and some helpful hints from us, you'll be on your way to achieving beds you can be proud of. And remember: annuals only last one season, so you'll be able to practice again next year. Nothing is permanent in the world of flowers.
1. Plan. Do a bit of dreaming. What colors do you want to see in your landscape? What might complement the architecture of your home? Planting your annuals is like creating artwork—there are many opportunities to create unique and original designs.
2. Consider Sun and Soil Conditions. Think about sunlight first: how much sun will your beds and pots receive? This is the most important step, because different plants require different amounts of light. Planting for the wrong lighting is often the most common mistake that leads to dying plants or flowers that fail to thrive. If you need a little help determining your sun or shade conditions, we can help.
Next, consider the soil. Many issues that arise with annual flowers - like fungus or root rot - are caused by improper drainage or overwatering. If you are planting in containers, be sure to choose a pot that has at least one hole in the bottom. Before adding your potting soil, fill the container about one-third with a material to help with drainage, like bark or pebbles.
In flower beds, it's important to use a shovel to turn your soil over, or you can use a machine to till your soil before doing any planting. Stay away from any lighting wires or irrigation or utility lines. It's also a good idea to gather your soil into a bed that's three to four inches higher than the rest of the area. At the same time, we also recommend adding high quality compost or a slow-release fertilizer to your soil to give your plants plenty of fuel for growth. With proper soil prep, water can easily move to your plants' roots, while a mounded bed will prevent water from accumulating around your plants that could otherwise lead to root rot.3. Design your space. For pots and planters, we recommend using the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method. Place the "thriller"—usually your tallest plant—in the center or center rear of a container as the focal point. Arrange the "fillers" around the base of the thriller to add some depth and dimension. And finally, the "spillers" go around the edge of the container, often draping over the edges.
For beds, it's all about personal preference. You can certainly follow the thriller, filler, spiller method, but you can also play around with color, height, and density to create your own displays. Planting your annuals is like creating artwork, which means there are unlimited opportunities for unique and original designs. We recommend laying out your plants before planting. This small step can be the difference between a beautiful bed and a chaotic mess that damages your plants.
4. Get planting! Now that it's time to get dirty, take into consideration these best practices:
- Don’t plant too deep, which can lead to stem rot later in the season. Instead, dig a hole slightly deeper than the roots, set the plant in place at the same level at which it was growing, and carefully pat down the soil around the roots.
- Plant when it’s a little less sunny. Planting on a cloudy or overcast day or late in the day can reduce shock in your new pansies.
- Add some mulch and water once you're done planting. Cover the soil with a one inch layer of fine pine bark mulch or nuggets and give everything a good drenching. Refrain from using dyed mulch of any kind.
- Deter deer from your winter flowers by placing a deer net over your planting. Contrary to popular belief, the netting does not stunt the flowers' growth in the winter. Netting allows the plants to thoroughly root in and help them grow as they should, minimizing the damage deer can cause. In summer, a product like Milorganite will help repel deer and rabbits.
5. Continue the love. With regular care, winter flowers planted in the South Carolina upstate in October or November should last until the cool nights are over in the spring, typically April.
- To encourage blooms, we recommend adding a slow-release granular fertilizer to the soil four to six weeks after planting your flowers (avoiding leaves and blooms), and then again in six to eight weeks.
- Prolong flowering by regularly deadheading (pruning or pinching your flowers) at the bottom of the stem to remove any spent blooms. This will keep them looking fuller and denser for longer throughout the season.
- Monitor the soil to determine the ideal watering schedule for each season. Stick your finger in the soil a couple of inches. The soil should be moist, and a little bit should stick to your finger. It should not feel wet or very dry.
- Winter watering schedule, unless rainfall is more than one inch in a seven-day period. During the first two weeks after planting, water seven days per week for 10 minutes AFTER 10am. Then water three times per week for 10 minutes after 10am in each zone (after 10am to help prevent freezing the plants). Turn off additional irrigation to beds and pots after the first frost. Once days start to warm in early March, irrigation may be turned back on for the three-day schedule until new annual flowers are planted in late April or early May.
- Summer watering schedule, unless rainfall is more than one inch in a seven-day period. During the first two weeks after planting, water seven days per week for 10 minutes BEFORE 10am. Then, water every other day BEFORE 10am for 15 to 20 minutes in each zone (before 10am to help prevent fungus). Continue to monitor. Full-sun beds may require daily watering, while shaded beds may require less.
- Protect your plants. Refrain from using dyed mulch around flowers as it prevents plants from properly rooting. It also causes disease and will eventually lead to your flowers dying. During the summer season, fine pine bark mini nuggets protect soil moisture and discourages weeds. During the winter season, pine bark mini-nuggets allow moisture and fertilizer to penetrate to the roots and soil while protecting from winter weather extremes.
- Keep weeds at bay by usingfine pine park nuggets. Weeds, of course, will still grow, but pulling them when they are small will prevent new weeds from growing—keeping your beds tidy and putting the focus back on the flowers.
Ready to give it a go? Felicity's Flowers offers home delivery of flowers and planting supplies. Check out our online store.
If you decide you’d prefer to leave the design, planting, and care of your annuals to the experts, the team at Felicity’s Flowers & Design is happy to help. Give us a call or email to discuss our professional flower landscape and design services.