Whether you're planting bulbs, annuals or perennials, flower gardens add a beautiful splash of color throughout the season. While growing flowers is not difficult, there are many decisions that must be made prior to planting. The more closely these choices are based on meeting the needs of your plants, the more likely you are to be successful. Some of the most basic factors to be considered include light, moisture, soil quality and when to plant. Click on the information below to learn more.
By Kim Haworth
Late summer brings up some of my favorite flowers. The first growing dahlia I ever met was in a hillside house I rented in Mill Valley. We had moved in during the winter months and were enchanted by the multiple surprises the garden revealed as winter turned to spring, then summer. One of the lovely things about moving into an older home is the opportunity to see the garden unfold, it’s rather like a surprise package.
The dahlias in Mill Valley were bright yellow and the tubers must have been in the ground for many years, because the flowers were the size of a dinner plate. They were the spidery shaped blooms, called ‘cactus form’ that looked like sunbursts. Magnificent! When we moved, I tried to take the tubers with me, but I’m afraid I did the plant a disservice. It never regained it’s former glory after the transplant. (more…)
Fern-like leaves and abundant, daisy-shaped blossoms make cosmos a lovely choice for borders and background.
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 65-90 days from seed to flower
Height: 24 to 60 inches
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart in all directions
Growing cosmos adds beauty to summer gardens, especially when planted in informal beds or used in mixed borders. Flowers come in striking reds and oranges or paler crimsons and cream. For arrangements, cut flowers shortly after bloom and place immediately in cold water. Shorter varieties are perfect for containers. (more…)
Wispy, bright California poppies are suitable for xeric (water conserving) gardens and provide a spectacular display of long-lasting colors.
Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 55-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 4 to 12 inches
Spacing: 4 to 8 inches apart in all directions
Home gardeners growing California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are rewarded with their fern-like foliage and lively orange, red and yellow flowers. Easy going, drought-tolerant plants are a favorite for use in cointainer gardens, mixed beds, rock gardens and water-wise landscapes. (more…)
Also known as “pot marigold,” calendula’s familiar orange and yellow blossoms will last through the summer.
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 45-60 days from seed to flower
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions
Growing calendula (Calendula officinalis) provides a spectacular display of light yellow to deep orange blooms from early summer until frost. Sun-loving plants are usually low and compact with attractive double blossoms that can be 2-1/2 to 4 inches across. Start in flats for early season flowering or sow directly in the garden. Gorgeous in patio pots or mixed borders. (more…)
By Kim Haworth
We drove down to Capitola recently to take photos of fuchsias. Capitola isn’t too far from the Bay Area and there is plenty to see once you are there. My favorite nursery on the coast is Antonelli Brothers, located on Capitola Road just south of Santa Cruz. Antonelli’s specializes in fuchsias and begonias – I guess that’s why Capitola is the begonia capitol of the world. They have an annual begonia festival in town to celebrate these magnificent tubers.
If you have been growing begonias, you know that now is the time to put them to bed for the year. If you are a begonia novice, here are a few tips for preserving your tubers for next season. Anything of value must be treated with respect, and begonia tubers are no exception. As soon as the lower leaves on the plants begin to yellow, stop watering the plants. (more…)
A popular annual that does well in most zones, Bachelor Button looks good behind borders, in arrangements and, of course, worn as boutonnieres!
Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 80-95 days from seed to flower
Height: 12 to 36 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart in all directions
Native to Europe and Asia, home gardeners are growing bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus) for their frilly blossoms showing in pale blues, purples, pinks and reds. Also known as cornflowers, these jolly plants bloom throughout the summer months and are perfect for cuttings with their long “silvery” stems. Hardy annual, grows to 3 feet tall.
Fact: Discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamen who died in 1340 B.C. The 1-1/2 inch blossoms were woven into a beautiful wreath and given to the King to aid in the afterlife. (more…)
One of the last — and most meaningful — end-of-season tasks is saving flower seeds for planting next year. We’re not talking about those hybrid seeds you got from the catalog. We’re talking about open-pollinated heirlooms, flowers that have been around longer than grandma. Their names are familiar and come together like words in a poem: Calendula, Four O’Clocks, Morning Glories, Petunias and Poppies.
If you’re lucky, you’ve been saving seed since you were a child, going out with grandma and gathering pods, seed heads or the seeds themselves for careful drying and preserving. Back when, we would put the seeds in grandma’s old pill bottles. Today we put them in tightly-sealed baggies.
Every year, one or two varieties of heirloom flowers disappear from seed catalogs. At that point, if you haven’t saved seed from the flowers you grew the season before, you’re out of luck unless you can find someone who’s saved seed. Some families have made a tradition of gathering seed, going out in the fall and making sure they’ll have their favorite flower seeds available for spring planting. (more…)
Fall is the time for making sure you’ll have plenty of color in your landscape come spring. Now’s the time to divide perennials, if you haven’t done so in the last few years. If your perennials are showing smaller blossoms or dying off in the center, then dig them up, clip the crowns, and spread them around after cutting out dead and crowded roots. They like room for their roots to grow. Keep the cutting moist until you’ve put them back in the soil. Do this early; don’t wait until there’s a chance that your soil will start to freeze. If there’s a question, wait until early spring, just as the ground thaws and the plants begin to show signs of life. Either way, be sure to add some compost to the soil where they’re planted.
September is also the time to plant bulbs for spring crocus, daffodils, and tulips. Wait until the nights have become cool. The ideal soil temperature for planting bulbs is around 60 degrees. For tight, impressive displays, plant bulbs in a circle. Or just place them where ever you have room and they’ll have enough sunlight to thrive. (more…)