Six Bloomers to Brighten Summer Days

May 27, 2020

With the weather finally warming and local garden centers bursting with plants, flowering annuals are just what the doctor ordered to lift your spirits and punch up your yard, balcony, or doorstep. Grace Ouellette at Highland Farm in Scarborough, Maine, shares some of her easy-care favorites.

SUN LOVERS

Brachyscome Blue Zephyr. These sweet blue-violet flowers look like miniature daisies. “They add a flowing, whimsical touch to containers and are a favorite with our employees,” says Ouellette.

Petunias. A traditional favorite with trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom like mad. Look for a variety that doesn’t require deadheading (removing spent blooms). “They are super easy to care for and come in just about any color you can imagine,” adds Ouellette.   

Verbena. Ouellette prefers Verbena bonariensis. “This tall flower is perfect for the back of your garden. Its delicate poofball-like purple flowers last well into fall.”

SHADE LOVERS

Begonia. You can’t go wrong with this classic, featuring showy single or double blooms that throw a big punch of color in yellow, pink, white, red, and orange.  

Browalia. Ouellette loves these vibrant purple and white, star-shaped flowers for hanging baskets and containers. Their bright green foliage sets off the flowers brilliantly.

Torenia. A cousin of the snapdragon, these velvety, tube-like flowers are loved by hummingbirds. In white, purple, or yellow, you’ll love their cheery two-toned faces.

PLANTING AND CARE

Outdoor planting is generally safe after Mother’s Day, but nights under 50 degrees can damage annuals. For best results, wait for temps to moderate where you live.

1 | Planting and spacing: Mix compost or manure into soil before planting. For garden beds with a filled-in, mature look, follow the smaller distance on the plant’s tag. (If the tag says 8 to 12 inches apart, space plants by 8 inches.) For planting in containers, use the 1-3-5 rule: 1 plant per 4- to 6-inch pot, 3 plants per 8- to 10-inch pot, 5 plants per 12- to 14-inch pot. Use a ruler or a trowel laid flat for accurate spacing. Pro tip: Cut an “x” into the bottom of pot-bound roots with a knife or tease them apart with your fingers for better soil contact.

2 | Watering: Moist soil encourages growth. Water deeply after planting, and then two to three times a week. Annuals in containers may need water every day as the weather warms up. Ouellette recommends this thirst check: Stick your finger in the soil. Pull it out. If dirt sticks the soil is moist enough. The best times to water: Early in the morning watering or at dusk.

3 | Feeding: Once a week, feed plants with an all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer designed to be mixed with water. Traditional or organic will do the job. Ouellette’s favorite:  Liquid Fertilizers—”Grow!” and “Bloom!”—from Espoma Organic.

 

Photo Credit: Highland Farm, Scarborough, Maine.

Photo Credit: Highland Farm, Scarborough, Maine.

 

Photo Credit: Highland Farm, Scarborough, Maine.