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Caring for Your Flowers
As we move into the latter part of the growing season (where did the summer go?), your flowers may need a bit of extra attention.
  • Water. This year has had some very unpredictable and tricky weather. "Scattered rain showers" means one day there may be enough to flood the garden and the next day, no rain at all. Container gardens are especially susceptible to drowning, so if you've had rain for a few days, give the plants a chance to dry out slightly. If you have an automatic irrigation system, use the rain delay button on your timer or turn off the water. Don't forget to turn it back on after a day or so! If I installed your hose-end timer for your container gardens, you can find timer programing instructions here.
  • Fertilize. Two products I use and recommend are Osmocote's Slow Release Plant Food: Vegetable and Bedding (sprinkle on the soil) and Fertilome's Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant Food (mix with water). Of course, you don't need to use both products, just one or the other. If you want something natural and organic, sprinkle bone meal on the soil. Of course, if you have a fertilizer canister on your irrigation system, you can just add 4 Tbsp. of water soluble fertilizer to the canister and let the irrigation system do the fertilizing for you.  For more information about fertilizer types, check out this past newsletter.
  • Deadhead. "Deadheading" means removing the flowers that are spent or past. When you deadhead the plants in your containers, you want to remove the dead flower and all its parts off the stem. Annual plants spend their whole lives trying to reproduce. When you get the seed pod off of the plant before the seeds mature, the plant will produce more flowers constantly trying to make more seeds. For more details on deadheading, check this newsletter from last year.

If you have concerns or questions about your container gardens or irrigation system, please contact me right away.

Also, if you're considering doing some landscaping work, please call me (970-988-3808) to help you with your landscape design.

This year's newsletter series is "Weeds and Wildflowers." The newsletter archive on my website is up to date if you would like to look back to previous issues.

 
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Weed: Common Ragweed
If you suffer from hay fever, Common Ragweed is one of your arch-enemies. Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) emerges in spring after the last frost with Marigold-like, lacy leaves which are a silvery-green color. The flowers are small almost nondescript spikes of green which produce massive amounts of wind-born pollen. This annual plant can reach heights of up to 4 feet tall and is not edible, even by wildlife. Whenever possible, remove this plant before it flowers in these late summer months.
 
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Wildflower: Maximilian Sunflower
Maximilian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) is a perennial plant with rhizomatous roots (similar to Iris) which actually prefers heavy clay soil and bright sunlight. Plants range from 3 feet to 10 feet tall and are well branched to the point of being described as “scraggily”. Bright yellow flowers appear in late summer/early fall with several flowers growing on each branch. Although they are the typical sunflower shape and color, Maximilian Sunflowers are only 2 to 3 inches in diameter.  Because Maximilian Sunflower has very low water requirements it is well suited to our high desert environment. The distinguishing characteristic for Maximilian Sunflower versus other wild sunflowers is the grayish appearance of the foliage which results from dense white hairs on the plant. It is good for erosion control especially in burn sites. Homesteaders used the blossoms in bathwater to help relieve arthritis pain and the seeds are edible by humans, small mammals and birds. Butterflies, beetles and bees enjoy the nectar. This plant can be useful in the urban landscape as a hedge or for attracting wildlife; however, Maximilian sunflower plants are allelopathic. They exude a chemical from their root system which hinders the growth of any other plants nearby.
 
Sunflowers


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Want to know more about weeds? Here are my sources:
 
Gift, Nancy, and Sheila Rodgers. Good Weed, Bad Weed: Who's Who, What to Do, and Why Some Deserve a Second Chance (all You Need to Know about the Weeds in Your Yard). Pittsburgh, PA: St. Lynns, 2011. Print.
 
 Whitson, Tom D., and L. C. Burrill. Weeds of the West. Laramie, WY: Western Society of Weed Science in Cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services and the University of Wyoming, 2009. Print.


"Maximilian Sunflower." Plant Guide. United States Department of Agriculture, 23 June 2004. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_hema2.pdf>.