Often times people don’t realize there is a fair amount of prep work and ongoing maintenance to planting annual flowers. We are here to help you from wasting time and money on flowers which only look good for a few weeks. Let us teach you how to plant flowers like the pros! Follow these 9 easy steps and you’ll have gorgeous annuals all season long.
Spray to kill all weeds or lay plastic over area to be planted. Spraying usually kills weeds in 2-3 weeks depending on the grade of the product you are using. Laying plastic only kills the top growth, leaving the roots intact. Therefore, plan on regularly weeding a little every week.
Rake bed while turning up soil about 6". You want the bottom layer to end up on the top. This adds air circulation which inhibits fungicidal growth in flowers. Shady areas are especially susceptible to fungal disease.Expert Tip: Allow freshly turned bed to sit for a minimum of 3 days before flowers are installed.
At this point add about 1-2" of fresh planting soil mixed with perlite or vermiculite. Most planting soils will have this pre-mixed. Grade soil to have a crowned effect, the planting bed center is higher and slopes down toward the edge. Sloping the grade prevents washout and aids in retaining moisture to flowers.
Set plants (do not take out of pots yet) in their potential spots. You want to wait to plant them so ensure you are first making perfectly straight lines. If you have a variety of colors, go wild here. We typically choose a 3:1 ratio with colors-3 of one color and 1 of a single color. For example, white-white-white-pink-white-white-white. This will create a unified look without an overwhelming busy look. However, this is personal preference and- there is no wrong color combination.Expert Tip: Space spreading flowers out 8-12" and non-spreading flowers 6" apart.
Regardless of the shape of your planting bed (triangle, round etc.) keep the rows of flowers straight from every angle.As shown in this demonstration, each line hits almost perfectly on center of the plant. Expert Tip: Use a tape measure to measure the distance and as a straight edge to ensure all lines are straight.
Remove plants (still in pot) and plant right where the potted plant was. Systematically, removing the pot and planting the flower one at a time so you do not lose your spacing. Expert Tip: Do not plant any part of vegetative flower portions, only cover the root ball.
Fertilize flowers with flower specific product such as a 14-14-14 fertilizer blend and apply slug bait. These should be applied about once a month or as needed. Expert Tip: Slug bait is poisonous and dogs like the taste (molasses is added to attract slugs). There are many alternatives to slug bait. Cheap beer in cups around the planting, hazelnut shells, egg shells and Sluggo (a dog safe slug bait).
Proper watering is one of the key differences in beautiful flowers lasting all season long. Skipping one day in which your annuals dry out can cause permanent damage. Keep the soil moist but not sopping wet. We recommend watering twice a day for 10 minutes each. A drip irrigation system will be your best friend if you plant flowers. Hand watering works just as well, its just time consuming. Expert Tip: If hand watering, be aware that too much pressure can damage the blooms.
Pinching back the stem of the bloom to the main stem will greatly increase blooms and overall beauty.