Water, Weed, Feed…Repeat!

As spring shifts into summer, the days grow longer and temperatures rise. The beach beckons and the boardwalk bustles. But your garden does not have to suffer through summer. Follow these simple tips to keep your flowers blooming and plants producing well into fall.

Be Water Wise! Since our summers tend to be hot and dry, it’s important to water regularly.  Containers and hanging baskets with small soil bases and good drainage will not hold water for long, so it is necessary to water daily (sometimes twice a day!). Although established perennials, shrubs, and trees manage with less water, new plantings will need to be watered through the first (and sometimes second) growing seasons. Rather than watering quickly every day, take time to water more deeply a few times through the week. Short waterings, regardless of frequency, result in shallow surface roots that are always searching for the next splash of water to come along. Instead, longer waterings push the roots deeper into the soil, stretching after the water as it soaks down. Most importantly, remember your plants are living things and need water to survive, just like you and me.

Watch the Weeds! Get out and pull the weeds every so often to keep the pesky plants from strangling and overgrowing your desirable plants.

Got Fertilizer? When planting, you may begin with a potting mix or garden soil that includes a fertilizer.  Although most soil packages note their product feeds for three months or more, it is helpful to add even more slow-release granules through the growing season.  Espoma, a local (Millville, NJ!) organic fertilizer company, offers many slow-release, non-burning plant foods such as Plant-Tone, Flower-Tone, Garden-Tone and Tomato-Tone to name a few.  These fertilizers can be applied one to two times per month throughout the growing season (always read the label for specifics!) You can also boost blooms and promote green growth by using a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro, every 1-2 weeks. The liquid fertilizer will be absorbed quickly by the roots and begin moving through the plant to replenish nutrients.  It is best to apply at the base of your plants, in the morning, before the high heat and humidity of the day sets in.  Finally, after watering with a liquid fertilizer, remember to rinse off with fresh, clean water to avoid burning of leaves and flowers.

Time for a Haircut! At some points in the summer, you’ll find some perennials and many annuals, particularly trailing plants such as Million Bells and Petunias, look as though they are fizzling in the heat (Let’s face it, even we feel that way some days!). To keep these annuals looking their best, it’s time to begin regular “haircuts.” Although you may be afraid to take scissors or shears to your annuals for fear of cutting off the flourishing flowers, trimming back long-hanging stems encourages new green growth and more beautiful blooms. Go ahead and give it a try. Start by making small snips and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

If you grow into the habit of following these simple steps, your flowers should survive through summer and flourish well into fall! Just remember, water, weed, feed…repeat! And, work in a haircut every so often!