Saturday, May 31, 2014

Manageable Annuals - May

This spring, I decided to limit myself to one small space for planting annuals. In the past, I've planted too many, in too many different pots and urns around the yard, and ending up losing them all by late June. It's just too dry here. I can't keep up with the watering. And I feel guilty for using the water, so I use it more and more sparingly until the plants are crispy. Many people here grow annuals successfully, though. I thought about it a lot and decided to plant cheap, hardy annuals in one location only, and to commit myself to watering them every day. I had an old half-barrel on the back patio, left by the house's previous owners, which once held a big chrysanthemum. When it eventually died, I was left with a big, empty planter. It seemed like a good place for my little collection of annuals and this spring, I took the plunge. I've been photographing the barrel at intervals and I am very pleased to report that the plants are doing well. I thought I'd keep a diary of sorts for my barrel of annuals here on my blog. I've been making notes for myself since I planted them. I've been enjoying thinking about how to keep them healthy and help them grow strong and lush.


May 4 - planting day

I bought my annuals on May 1 at Lowe's. I kept them in our shaded courtyard, watering them liberally, for a few days until I had time to plant them on the weekend. I've got six assorted petunias, six assorted verbenas, five lobelias (there were six, but one looked unhealthy so I didn't plant it), and two large trailing ivy geraniums. I planted a lot of plants, densely. I read in Sunset that this is okay to do with annuals and that it will lead to a full, lush planter arrangement.

Right off the bat, I did something differently with the soil, in the hopes that it would start the plants off right. As I added soil to fill the barrel to the top, I wetted each new pile and turned it, to spread the wet soil through the barrel. All the soil was moist, down the bottom few inches.

I planted the annuals more deeply than I have done in the past. I wanted to avoid soil erosion, since it can be very windy here. I started them with one dose of Miracle Gro (a scoop for two gallons of water), with plans to do this every two weeks thereafter.

The barrel does have a drip-hose nestled into the center of the plants. In May, our irrigation system is programmed to cycle twice per week for about fifteen minutes each time.


May 20

The plants have grown a lot. I did have to remove two of the petunia plants because they were too crowded and were not thriving. Maybe there were too many plants, too densely planted. This is okay because the petunias that are left have grown a lot and there are new blooms every day.

The lobelias are the most surprising to me. I have never had them last more than a week before they dry up. The verbenas are growing a lot too. The geraniums are getting tall and starting to trail toward the edges of the barrel.

I have been keeping up with the watering and have given them another feeding with Miracle Gro (one scoop to two gallons of water) on May 18, two weeks after the first feeding. I'm watching for flea beetles because they've been a problem in the past, but so far I haven't seen any. I will try the dish-soap remedy if I see any this year.


May 30

They've grown so much! All the plants have flowered now. The verbenas are on their second and third blooms. I've been dead-heading the petunias and geraniums. The geraniums are really starting to trail now; the one at the right is leaning out over the side of the barrel. The lobelias at the front are just beginning to reach the edge of the barrel too. I really love the way all the plants are clustering and starting to interlace as they grow.

These annuals have already experienced hail three times and it's only May! They're pretty tough. I was able to stop watering for two days last weekend because we had unusually rainy weather for several days. Nearly half an inch of rain fell. I checked to make sure the plants didn't become too dry but I took advantage of the weather otherwise.

I will give the plants another dose of Miracle Gro tomorrow (it will have been two weeks since the last feeding).

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For June:

This is our hottest, driest month coming up. I will continue watering every morning. In the afternoons, if the sun seems very strong, I may move the patio umbrella over to the barrel area and prop it against the railroad ties behind the barrel. This may give it some shade. I'm a little concerned that the concrete of the patio will reflect a lot of heat back up onto the barrel.

I will continue to feed with Miracle Gro every two weeks. The sprinkler system can be increased to three cycles per week beginning in June (as per city ordinance). The monsoon should start up by the end of the month and I may be able to back off on my daily waterings depending on the frequency and amount of rain we receive.

I should read about how to recognize when it's time to dead-head a geranium. I may be removing a few of them too soon. Others have hung around too long, looking dry and skeletal.

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Do you plant annuals at your house? I'm feeling pretty good about my latest attempt, but I know I still have a lot to learn. Let's talk annuals! How are yours doing this year? What have you learned from your experiences with annuals?

Linking in with Helen's End of Month View series

48 comments:

  1. What a lovely post and so beautiful pictures!
    Best wishes for a great weekend,
    Titti

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  2. Wow, that's a huge amount of growth in less than a month! What a beautiful, lush, dense mass of flowers you have now. I hope they survive June!

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  3. Your plants came a long way in a single month. You do know that when petunias get leggy you can cut them back by a third for a new flush of bloom? I kind of just cut off the longest branches by a third all along.

    Because of our long growing season, we have spring annuals followed by summer annuals. In late fall, I scatter seeds of Larkspur, 3 kinds of Poppies, and Silene. There are others than reseed without my help. As the season ends now, I collect those seeds and look forward to mostly reseeders for summer: Tithonia, Madagascar periwinkle and Melampodium are coming up and will bloom soon. Black eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) are starting to bloom now, also reseeders.

    There are any number of perennials that act as annuals that I get new growth if I'm lucky, like Porterweed, Pentas and Daturas. Most all my plantings are geared toward attracting butterflies.

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    1. Hi Jean! Thank you for the tip about the petunias. I will try to do that. Thanks too for sharing about your annuals, they sound really beautiful. You know a lot about gardening!

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  4. What a good idea to concentrate everything into one mass of prettyness, it looks so good.

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  5. What a lovely display. I am trying to get to grips with the garden this year and am thinking what to plant by trying out different plants to give me cut flowers all year round. I must admit I don't really 'get' the point of planting up things which will die after one season but I might go for this option if I cant sustain my alleged perennials! I have a camellia I've just bought which will apparently flower in the winter but I need to get it to there alive which is the challenge. I've just bought some miracle gro today and one of the hose dispensers to see if this helps make up for my deficiencies as a gardener. So it is good to see that the stuff definitely does make a difference to how fast your plants have come on.

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  6. Your barrel is looking lovely! So colourful and pretty! x

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  7. I don't grow many annuals as I forget to look after them! Do you have water retaining granules in the US? I found them good for pots and baskets, they swell up when the compost is watered and then release the water slowly. It helps reduce the watering.

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    1. Hi Helen, thanks for visiting and for the feedback. Yes, we can buy those. I don't think I realized I could use them in outdoor plants but that's a really good idea. Thanks again for the suggestion.

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  8. Your barrel is looking really lovely Jennifer, well done. I think it's a good idea to concentrate your efforts in one manageable area. Do you collect your rainwater, or isn't there enough to bother with? We're always being encouraged to use water butts here (you probably don't call them that in the US, apologies) and I have one at the allotment but not at home. We've planted some bee friendly plants this year, but they're really tiny so far. I do hope they pull through or the boys will be disappointed. I think your barrel will keep going for a good long time, the plants you have chosen will keep growing and flowering for months. CJ xx

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  9. That is a gorgeous display
    Tracey xx

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  10. Beautiful choice of plants and so colourful x

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  11. Your pot of flowers is really pretty! It's amazing how much they've grown in one month. We used to plant annuals, but now we plant perennials and add a few every year,

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  12. What a beautiful combination of flowers you have. I love the pink and purple together! I also love the geraniums and how they are starting to trail over the barrel. I bought more annuals, and a few herbs today. It's so hard for me to say no to pretty flowers. I enjoy them so much!

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  13. That filled in beautifully Jennifer. So pretty.
    I love annuals for splashes of color that usually goes right on through the Summer here. I also love my perennials , that return each year.

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  14. Your barrel is beautiful, and the flowers have done so well already. I love the zing that the lobelias give to an arrangement. I grow annuals in pots too, generally smaller pots, but now I see yours I think I should upscale to something bigger! Our garden beds get too dry in our hard climate, and we use them for shrubs and hardier things, but my verandah flowers keep me happy.

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  15. Hi Jennifer,

    Love your pretty flowers growing in the barrel - and yes, getting water to them in summer can be a problem we have the same thing here. We rely on tank water from the sky, so water is very precious and don't like buying it, when we have a dry hot summer. I have just planted some lobelia in my window boxes and when they start flowering, will show them.
    Happy weekend
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  16. Wow, your planter is doing beautifully and I love how the colors work with each other! I adore lobelia. Yes, I do annuals in pots and baskets hanging on our gazebo. You should try some Lantana and Moss Roses! Mine are looking good and will get better and better. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  17. Your container is beautiful! The plants sure spread out quickly. I planted more annuals this morning...in little decorative pots and containers. I have one more big container to do on the north side of the house and then I'm done!

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  18. Your flower container looks so pretty it must give you a lot of joy. It's a fun idea keeping a plant diary.

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  19. Wow, what a wonderful burst of colour, they are clearly enjoying the care you are lavishing on them.

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  20. Beautiful happy colours. Just made me smile!

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  21. It looks fabulous. I think the secret to a great display is to plant what you're able to manage and that's exactly what you've done. I'm sure it will last the whole season.

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  22. The barrel looks great, such a wonderful splash of colour. We're in the process of planting the bedding plants here, sadly we had a bad snail attack the other night and several trays were eaten beyond saving, a gardener lot is a tricky one, so I think it a great idea to focus the planting where you can water.
    Clare x

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  23. They are looking lovely Jennifer they have filled out nicely you are obviously doing the right things, I planted mine yesterday, it's been to cold up until now, if they put on a beautiful display like yours I will be very happy. :)

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  24. Oh Jennifer those are such gorgeous flowers. The colors go so well with each other. I'm afraid I'm pretty boring when it comes to planting. Usually one color alone in a pot! Thanks for sharing this beauty with us.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  25. This is a lovely barrel with lovely annuals. You are looking after them well! It is very good of you to think about water shortage and to limit your flower beds in order to save water. We hardly ever need to water anything here in Glasgow, rain is frequent and reliable. x

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  26. They are gorgeous and you are doing a great job keeping up with them. I plant annuals several times a year as they grow year round here, but not all grow in the summer. I replace as needed or when they die from too much heat.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  27. I plant annuals, but ONLY in containers..otherwise they suffer...
    At the cottage I do baskets, with handles, so I can move them into the shade when we leave after the weekend....
    I also plant all 4 plants from a cell pack....I merely cut the very bottom of the cell pack, with scissors....and then plant all 4....bigger impact, and no fiddling with small seedlings....
    Yours looks awesome Jennifer....keep up the good work....
    Oh....I also mix peat moss into the potting mix, and feed with miracle gro shake &feed...
    Ok...I have blabbed too long....but...I also mix in perennials with the annuals...
    Ok....enough....
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  28. I planted geraniums and some trailing petunias in hanging baskets. It is fun looking at your garden diary. I admire the way you planted and are tending your flower barrel! Now if we can both keep remembering to water what we planted........ :) xx

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  29. Good luck with your annuals project Jennifer, I hope that they do well for you, it certainly looks as though they are very happy at the moment! xx

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  30. Your flowers are very pretty and thriving too ... well worth the effort ... Bee xx

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  31. They are looking great and you seem to be doing really well with them...I love that you have journaled their progress, that's a really nice thing to do. I'm useless at gardening but G has planted some annuals for us this year, it's lovely to have a bit of colour in the garden.
    Marianne x

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  32. Such wonderful colour. You've certainly got green fingers. x

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  33. Hi Jennifer, it's been such a long time since I''ve read anyone's posts and so I've been having a biot of a catch up- All lovely and all very interesting- I loved the brownie post- i was also a brownie, then a guide, then a ranger and eventually ended being a guide leader for 15, so your post evoked lots of memories. I also loved miniature toys and had lots of little houses made out of wooden blocks, dolls houses and little hand made houses in shoe boxes. Now I'm back on the straight and narrow, not being away, or ill- i shall continue to keep updated- I've missed it:)

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  34. Your annuals look wonderful and seem to be doing great. In the past I've picked up a few annuals. My garden now consists of a lot more perennials. I've been lucky enough to find some colorful perennials. :)

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  35. Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed
    reading it, you are a great author.I will make sure to
    bookmark your blog and will come back later in life.
    I want to encourage that you continue your great work,
    have a nice evening! Obat aborsi

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  36. It's lovely to see the growth in your barrel in such a short space of time! it looks fantastic. We have recycled our water barrel this year and we are using it for sweet peas and petunias . Does your barrel have drainage holes? With all the rain our barrel became waterlogged. We have drilled some drainage holes but it is still very wet. Sarah x

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  37. Your plants have grown beautifully and are obviously thriving. Have you thought about watering in the evening rather than the morning, so that the plants can take advantage of the water overnight before the sun evaporates it? Also in France I use all sorts of waste water from washing-up or hand-washing or vegetable preparation to water my plants, so that I don't feel I'm wasting fresh water by watering frequently.

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  38. Beautiful pictures and a lovely post xo

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  39. it looks lovely Jennifer, you have inspired me to clean out some of my pots. You have put a lot of energy and thought into keeping yours healthy in that dry climate. Enjoy them, go and sit next to them! Heather x

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  40. Your annuals look so pretty Jennifer. I must admit we put them into lots of pots and like you can't cope with the watering. I've made a note of what Jean said earlier about cutting back Petunias, this is what I love about blogging, we can all learn from one another. Have a great week.
    Patricia x

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  41. I love your idea of keeping a garden diary. And I'm so impressed with your organisation, dedication and commitment to your plants! I'm afraid I just plant mine here and there and hope for the best, but then we live in a rainy climate, so I can afford to be lazier. I think your barrel planter is a triumph, so gorgeous to look at. Well done. x

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  42. Wow, that barrel is just beautiful! I think lobelia are one of my favorite little plants -- that periwinkle blue is just so gorgeous!

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  43. I love your planter...it looks so colourful and will bring you much pleasure over the summer. No need to worry about water here it's been raining so much. I'm only just sorting out our pots for the summer...hopefully I'll soon have a display similar to yours!

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  44. Beautiful annuals! I love to plant sweet peas...my all time fave annual and wildflower! xo Jen

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  45. What a beautiful pot! The colors you picked are very beautiful! I only planted one pot of annual flowers also. I did a bunch of vegetables and herbs, but I limit myself on the amount of money I spend on annual flowers. It can really add up :)

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  46. Hi Jennifer! I've been away for over a week and just catching up with your blog! I think you have done so well with your annuals, well done for keeping them watered. I have occasionally planted annuals but without any success. You have inspired me to do something similar next year, to focus on something small and manageable. Maybe you could put the planter on bricks to separate it from the concrete, just to avoid the heat traveling up through the soil? I think you picked a great choice of plants. :)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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