Quick Reminder from Last Month...

Just wanted to remind you (or let you know if you missed it), that I am now doing business under the name "Sundrops & Starflowers."  The change is so that the container gardening business and the landscape design business run together and to allow for other services I offer including drip irrigation installation and trouble-shooting, fine garden maintenance, and small garden installations.

The Patio Plants Unlimited website is still available. At the moment, Stephanie’s Landscape Design website is down for this reconfiguration. You can still reach me at my same phone number 970-988-3808 and my email messages will automatically forward to me or you can use my new address: Stephanie@SundropsAndStarflowers.com.

Deadheading and Cutting Back

While you might think "Deadheading" is a reference to the Grateful Dead, it actually means removing the flowers that are spent or past. When you deadhead the plants in your container gardens or flower beds, you want to remove the dead flower and all of 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 geraniums, get ahold of the flower ray and quickly bend it down or backward from the stem. It will snap off at the stem; if it doesn’t want to snap off easily, use your scissors and cut it off.

For salvia, snapdragons and other spike flowers, remove the spent flowers at the base of the spike or lower. Even if just the top of the flower spike is still looking good, cut it off anyway because the bottom flowers are already working on their seeds.

Dianthus, nemesia, flowering tobacco and some marigolds have little flowers on wiry stems. When these are done, I take my scissors, hold on to the plant with my left hand and cut all the flower stems off at once. It’s best to do this in the evening so if you cut through any leaves they don’t burn in the sunlight.

The hardest flowers to figure out what to do with are petunias. When their flowers are done, they often fall off or pick off really easily. But that doesn’t remove the seedpod and further down the stem there are more flowers so you don’t want to cut if off. At some point, though, your petunias are all “leggy” – long vines with one flower at the end. This is when you cut it back. Cut off at least ½ or more. Until you have to cut it back, just keep cleaning the spent petals off if they bother you. Petunias will be less leggy if you fertilize them faithfully. They also get long and spindly if they don't have enough sunlight.

When deadheading roses, don't be too gentle. Remove the spent flower back to the first leaf with 5 leaflets and cut at an angle away from the leaf. If your rose bush is getting too large, however, you can cut it back further to promote strong stems.

In the perennial flower bed, you may want some of the plants to form and drop seeds. Penstemon (Beardtongue), for example, is generally a short-lived perennial but will re-seed if you allow the spent flower stocks to stay on the plant until the seeds mature and drop. Other plants, like perennial Geranium, get out of control if you let them re-seed, so don't be shy about cutting those back. 

Although deadheading and cutting the plants back can seem harsh, it's really like giving the plant a haircut and the plants will most likely reward your efforts with more flowers in a week or so.

If you're not sure how to treat your plants, contact me and I'll try to help you figure it out! 
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The plants are whispering, and they said...   

Ack Bindweed!

Sometimes it would be nice to have a plant tell you, quite clearly, what is troubling it. Unfortunately, plants don't speak English but they frequently use a botanical sign language. Be careful though, their sign language is tricky! A wilted plant may be dry or it may have too much water. If the plants could speak for themselves, here's some things they would like to tell you.
  • As you might have guessed from the topic of this newsletter, the plants have indicated they need to be deadheaded and/or cut back.
  • Weeds are laughing and growing strong in this hot weather. Don't let them get out of control. If you choose to use herbicide, such as Round-up, spray it in the early morning when there is no wind. Be especially diligent about removing weed flowers - when the seeds spread they exacerbate the weed problem.
  • Shrubs and trees are growing strong; they are energized by our lovely Colorado sunshine.
  • Turf grass which is the typical Kentucky Blue Grass is resting and will continue resting until the temperatures come down. The good news is you shouldn't need to mow as often.
  • Zucchini and some other garden vegetables sometimes produce more than your family can eat. Rather than trying to sneak it onto your neighbor's porch, consider donating to the Larimer County Food Bank. Information on how to donate garden produce can be found here
  • Are your plants trying to say something but you don't understand them? Perhaps I can interpret!  Send me an email, call or text me at (970)988-3808 to chat about your plants.
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