Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Manageable Annuals - July

Nearly three months on, my flowering annuals are (mostly) still alive. I feel like it's been this month, July, which has taught me the most so far about caring for the plants, as well as what I really want from this kind of gardening.


July 3

July started off with a bang, literally. The monsoon came in like clockwork on July 1, which is the norm here (it might not start on July 1 every year, but it does usually start up sometime in early July). With near-daily thunderstorms, I was able to skip waterings here and there. The soil was often saturated in the mornings and I didn't want to overwater.

I think the flowers were at their peak of attractiveness during this time. The lobelia was still holding its own and the verbena was just starting to trail a bit. The petunias were giving me trouble again, though. I was finding more and more caterpillars on them. I ended up buying a spray at Lowe's, Garden Safe pest repellant spray for organic gardening. I really doused the whole planter with it but the effects only lasted a couple of days. For the price of the spray, it seemed like a waste of time and money, but I continued using it a few times a week. I felt it couldn't hurt and I did eventually see a few new petunia blooms.


July 10

Lots of rain over the past two weeks. I think the plants grew a lot and it has been nice not to have to water every morning. The geraniums and verbenas continue to be the most prolific plants in the bunch and I think they're looking very lush and colorful. The lobelia is getting crowded, I think. And the petunias are doing okay, but not great. They are flowering again, albeit with smaller, crumpled-looking flowers. I'm still picking the caterpillars off when I see them, but they are slightly diminished. I've been trying to figure out what kind they are; I'm seeing lots of swallowtail butterflies in our mimosa tree and I think they might be swallowtail larvae. If so, they make a beautiful butterfly but they're a real nuisance as caterpillars. Maybe I'm seeing fewer of them as they progress through the life cycle, though, which is a good thing.

I hadn't used any Miracle Gro since the monsoon started but I gave them a dose this week. I was noticing that some of the geranium flower heads were looking sparse and spindly, and thought they could use a feeding. I was using it every two weeks but I've slowed down lately, between the rainfall and the fact that I've been putting the pest spray on lately; I don't want to overwhelm the plants with chemicals.


July 18

I lost a petunia plant altogether this week. There was one at the left-hand side of the planter as you face it. One morning I came out to find that it was brown and sickly-looking. There were a couple of caterpillars on it, but I can't say whether that was related. Those caterpillars rile me up. I'm not happy about them. Thankfully, I'm seeing fewer all the time.

The lobelia is looking really choked. I will have to see if I can find a more trailing-type of lobelia, which might be able to climb out from under the other plants more easily.

Otherwise, the verbena and geraniums continue to grow like weeds, threatening to engulf everything else. I really like the look of all the red and pink flowers together; I often peer out at the planter from the sliding door off the breakfast nook and think how happy it makes me to have colorful annuals in my own yard, finally!


July 27

Well, the lobelia is all but swallowed alive by the verbenas. It was nice knowing you and your pretty blue flowers, lobelia.

The whole planter is looking a little wild to me these days. I keep dead-heading and clipping off spent flowers as I see them, but I think maybe the planter has been getting a little too wet. Last week was dry and I ended up needing to water most mornings. But maybe the soil was still wet underneath and I just didn't realize it. Either way, the rain is back this week and I've been holding off on watering again, since a little has fallen every day and the forecast seems to be the same for the foreseeable future. I'll wait until I think they need more water.

I'm still enjoying the colors very much, even though things are looking a little scrappier now. One thing I've learned is that verbena and geraniums grow like crazy, while petunias get eaten and lobelia kind of disappears in the jungle of other plants. I think that I will avoid petunias and lobelia in this planter in the future. If this year is any indication, I should be able to cultivate quite a lush assortment of geraniums and verbenas all by themselves in the future.

For August:

The monsoon will continue, and August is technically our wettest month here, so the watering may continue to be infrequent. But I will take it day to day, of course. I will probably give another Miracle Gro feeding soon, but may hold off on the pest-repellant, since the petunias have seemed better in late July.

I will need to start thinking about what I want to do with the geraniums. I know they can be saved indoors over the winter, but I need to read about that. August will continue to be warm and summery, but by the middle of September the nights will be cool so I'll need to think ahead for that too. I'm fine with losing annuals after a growing season, in any case. I've enjoyed having these but they're cheap to replace and this was sort of experimental anyway.

 ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂

How are your annuals doing this month, if you plant them?

23 comments:

  1. Your annuals are still managing quite well, Jennifer; very pretty! I love the purple with the red and pink. I've been blogging about my adorable annuals a lot this summer, as you know, (thanks for visiting), and they're all doing fine, apart from 2 little verbena pots we bought at the beginning of the season, which were completely shattered by windstorms.

    Poppy

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  2. They continue to do beautifully Jennifer, you definitely have green fingers. One organic method of caterpillar control is picking them off by hand... CJ xx

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  3. They really look good yet and are a basket of cheer! Good for you!

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  4. Your flowers still look great! My petunias are still blooming some, but they just look tired from all the heat and humidity. I always start thinking about autumn flowers this time of year, but I know it's way too early to plant them.

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  5. Geraniums are definitely the most easy plant to keep a whole season... I plant them in may, and they bloom until beginning of november. Dry or wet weather. I just make sure to cut out the old flowers.
    I never tried to keep them indoors over winter, I must admit... They are so cheap here at the beginning of season, that it just isn't worth the hassle...

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  6. Your flowers are looking a real delight, we didn't bother with a lot of the annuals this year just marigolds grown from seed. The usual display of flowers area we planted veg with a mixture of success.

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  7. I usually have red geraniums at each side of my back door, I only keep them one season and buy new the following year. At the end of last year, I never got round to emptying the pots out and they were kept in the greenhouse over winter. At the start of this year, the plants were still alive so I gave them a good chop back and repotted them. They've done brilliantly this year, they're flowering away even better than last year. I'm going to see if I can do the same again and overwinter them. They're not expensive to buy but it's worth doing if they put on an even better display the following year. Your planter is looking lovely, I can see how much care you've given it, it's repaying you handsomely.

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  8. I didn't plant one flower this year (except a few new rose bushes) because they seem to just burn up here in the heat. Of course, this year we are having the mildest summer EVER most of the time. Isn't that the way it goes. I enjoyed reading this and will take away some tips from it. I keep repeating geraniums and verbenas to try and remember. I think using pots for flowers and things is the way to go. They seem to live longer and do better, at least here. Thanks for the tips.

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  9. I think your flowers look gorgeous. Unfortunately I am not a successful gardener. Having said that our garden looks fine, but certainly not to my credit. xxx

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  10. I think you've done a marvellous job with your annuals Jennifer, such a riot of colour...beautiful! :)
    V x

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  11. Such pretty flowers, I normally bring in a few of the Summer Geraniums to give them a longer life although last winter was so mild here many survived out in the garden
    Clare x

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  12. I really like your choice of colours. Ants have made their home in my flower pot, so all the flowers have died.

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  13. Geraniums always remind me of Switzerland, where many people grow them in their window sill boxes. Do yours have a lovely fragrance during the night? My mum used to cut hers back to the hard stems and keep them in the dark in her cellar. They came back year after year after year. Well done for keeping your planter beautiful for such a long time. Cx

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  14. I think your flowers have done very well Jennifer and the geraniums and verbenas still are giving a good display. I think you learn what works best, I have tried all kinds of combinations through the years and have found that petunias often disappoint they look great but only for a short time. This year I have planted geraniums in pots on their own, they are just coming into flower now, the petunias I planted on their own have been flowering a while and are looking tired now, I'm hoping that they will last a little longer and then I will replace them with winter flowering pansies, I love pansies. :)

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  15. I think you have done very well keeping them healthy for so long, especially in such hot weather. They have really grown! It's really very interesting to see the difference in photos, I'd really like to do this next year, maybe with the children, just have a photo diary. I do like geraniums but we have none in our garden this year. I am sad to say my garden has been a bit rubbish this summer, I am not sure why really...I've just not been so motivated. But you have definitely made me want to plant annuals next year. :)

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  16. I adore that planter. Maybe next year I will treat myself to one :)

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  17. Goodness are they just stunning still friend!! What a beautiful combination as well! I would say that you did an outstanding job with your annuals!!! Mine are still going but some are looking a bit spent! Can you believe it is August already?!?! Wishing you a lovely weekend in the garden friend!!! Nicole xo

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  18. I almost missed your "eggciting" last post! You are fine farmers in my book :) And this post backs up my preceding declaration! I really enjoy and learn from your garden diary posts, Jennifer. Did I tell you we soaked some nasturtium seeds in milk for several days and planted them? Now the plants are coming up and are spindly and leaning in one direction, but I have visions of how beautiful they may be before our first frost :) ...I am hoping they will be worthy of a post one day! xx

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  19. Gorgeous flowers, and I'm really enjoying all the photos to see how they change...Chrissie x

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  20. Well done on keeping your flowers so well this year. We always keep our geraniums for the following year. Just bring them indoors then trim off old flowers and leaves next year.

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  21. Your planter looks fab! my pots have gone a little spindly now but I've religiously watered and dead headed them this year. They have been all the better for it. I'm hoping they'll last into Spetember...

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  22. I've really enjoyed your annuals posts. They're like a garden diary which will be good to look back on next year. I'm impressed with how you've kept up with it. Since being away for ten days, our garden is a disgrace, full of dead plants and weeds. X

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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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