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Septembers Tip’s & Tricks for South Florida Landscapes

Annuals offer an almost infinite variety of plant form and flower color.They brighten landscapes and add a splash of color to a entranceway, deck, patio or porch. Some may also be used as cut flowers. This month we will be helping you in the selection and use, installation and care of annuals in your landscapes.

In South Florida  most annuals only last one season (not one year). To be successful, they must be planted right plant, right time. Typically, annuals are divided into two types: warm and cool season annuals. Warm season (tender) annuals are damaged by frosts or freezes and should be planted at the end of April or the begining of May.

Florida’s winter climate varies greatly from north to south. Impatiens normally considered a warm-season annual for shade in North and Central Florida, thrive in full sun as a winter annual in South Florida. Also keep in mind that landscapes along the coast are typically warmer than inland areas. Coastal landscapes demand annuals that are tolerant of high winds, salt spray and irrigation wells that may contain high levels of salt.

Selection & Use

Before shopping for annuals, it must be determined first how much sunlight these plants will receive. Some annuals tolerate full sun light while others do best with just morning or filtered sun. No annuals perform well under heavy shade.

Garden centers offer a wide variety of annauls in varoius sizes, from cell packs to 1-gallon pots. The size you buy depends on your budget, patience, and the landscape impact you desire. Larger plants provide instant effect and may be easier to establish than smaller plants. Choose compact plants with healthy. umblemished leaves, good green color, and lots of flower buds. Is isnt necessary that they are in bloom at the time of purchase but least have lots of flowering buds. Growing annuals from seed requires time, water, fertilizer, and weeding.

Annuals serve as an accent to the landscape, not a dominant feature. They should blend with the setting and color of you home. Combinations of many flower colors and plant forms could be used depending on size or space to be planted  or just one or two types to add to an attractive flower bed. Color should be used to direct the eye, for example,  sides of sidewalk entrance leading to the front door, entrance sign to a Commercial Community or even flower pots arounfd a swimming pool.

Site Preparation

Good preparation of flower beds is another key to success with annuals. First, add 2-3″ of  (50-50) sand- organic matter to the soil surface and mix. Next, sprinkler a controlled-release fertilizer such as Dynamite, Osmocote, or similar product at a rate indicated in label. Thoroughly mix into the top six inches of soil. The organic soil will help to retain moisture in the soil as well as keeping fertilizer available for the plants root system as it grows over a long period of time. Fertilizer lables specify the time that the fertilizer will be released. I perfer a six month blend because typically that is how long long most plants will last.

Spacing during the laying out of plants should be be based on mature size of the plant. Hand-water newly planted annuals until their root systems are established. The amount of water will depend on the site (soil & and sunlight) and time of year. Thereafter, keep a close eye on the plants and water as needed.

Care

Watering- water applied by an overhead sprinkler system can destroy the beauty of a flower bed by physically damaging the fragile petals or causing the blooms to rot. Bedding plants are best watered with a handheld hose or micro-irrigation system. Both allow water to be directed to the soil & roots without wetting the flowers.

Weed Control- Weeds can be suppressed by mulching, using pre-emergent herbicides, and/or hand weeding. Mulches should be weed free and applied deeply enough to smother weed seeds or seedlings.The amount of mulch to appy depends on the density of the mulch. Excessive amounts of muclh around plants can suffocate their roots causing chlorisis and poor growth. The high moisture environment created by mulch increases the chances of stem rot, which can result in plant death. Hand weeding is labor intensive but is a good option when cant be used or wont control certain weeds.Hoeing is also effective but can damage plant roots and expose weed seeds to light, causing them to germinate.

Pruning- Many annuals perform best when they are pinched and deadheaded. Pinching is just light pruning of the stem tips to control the size and shape of the plant. Deadheading is the removal of spent blooms to improve appearance and redirect plant energy into new growth and flowers rether than seed production.

Pest Management- Annuals sometimes have insect and disease problems that must be recognized and managed. Monitor annauls frequently for insects and diseases. Infestations in the early stages can be controlled by spot treatments before the entire bed becomes infected. An insect infestation on a few plants can be controlled by picking insects off by hand or, in the case of disease, removing the infected leaves. For severe infestations, chemical control is needed.

I hope the hope the above tips we have prepared for you helps you with the installation of annuals in your gardens. If you need help regarding your landscape, we at Garden Services are fully licensed & insured to handle all of your irrigation, landscaping, maintenance and tree service needs whether it’s a residential, commercial or homeowner association property. Happy Gardening!!

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