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Garden information, hints, and tips

Maintenance of annuals and perennials primarily comprises weeding, pinching beginning blooms, deadheading, supporting tall flowers, feeding, and watering.

The weeding certainly improves the garden's appearance, but it also removes competition for space, light, food, and water.  What better tool is there for weeding than the Longnecker Weeder.

Pinching beginning blooms encourages bigger flowers and keep them more compact instead of sparse looking while deadheading keeps blooms forming and stops the seeding process.

Supporting the taller flowers not only improves the appearance of your garden, it also decreases unnecessary competition for lower plants' space and light.  It also slows the seeding process.

Feeding produces new growth and, of course you need to water as necessary. Container gardens need to be watered and fertilized more often to because potting soils tend to dry out quicker.

The types of gardens that you can have are limited only by your imagination.  Some that you may consider include: fragrance, butterfly (see "How to Make a Butterfly Garden" below), hummingbird, container, cacti, window, kitchen, formal, wildflower, rock, bog, seasonal, cottage, and patio.

Perennials are categorized as non woody stemmed plants, which grow and produce flowers for three years or more. There are several groups of these plant types. Some die down to the ground and reappear at the start of the next growing season. Others become low foliage during non-flowering season and others are the evergreens.

Annuals are flowers that are sown, grow, flower, set seed and die in one season. Depending upon climate some annuals may become perennials and are then considered as such. Growing from seed or buying transplants depends upon the germination time of the seed. Annuals range in height and size from the ground-hugging alyssum to sunflowers that may get over six feet high.  Annuals also include mosses and colorful leafed plants such as coleus.

Annuals for full sun gardens require at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Too much shade may make them bloom less, become leggy and may make them subject to mildew.  Some favorites include cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds, calendula, snapdragons, hollyhocks, brassicas, cleome, coreopsis, dianthus. dahlia, and salvia just to name a few.

Annuals for shady gardens include filtered sun and partial full shading either morning or evening. Some of the annuals for these situations include begonias, canterbury bells, cleus, larkspur, impatiens, alyssum, forget-me-nots, primroses and negella.

Annuals for hot, dry areas receive irregular watering and intense heat. Some include amaranthus, atctotis, centaurea, convolvulus, coreopsis, California poppy, rudbeckia, tithonia and verbena.

Soil preparation includes removing weeds, debris, etc., amending soil (what better tool is there for amending the soil than the Longnecker Trowel) and adding fertilizer for the development of healthy plants from the start. Read sowing directions as some seed are sown deeper than others and some are broadcast.  Water evenly and consistently for best results.

Fertilization: Most fertilizers contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The numbers describing the fertilizer indicate the proportion of each nutrient. A label reading 10-5-5 contains one half the nitrogen as compared to 20-5-5 and may well be less costly. Site preparation should include all three ingredients, but especially potassium and phosphorus as they are needed in healthy plant development.

Dry fertilizers are great for preparing soil prior to planting.
Liquids are easy especially for container gardening. Read the labels because some are complete (containing N, P, and K) but some single nutrient such as fish emulsion dissolved in water.
Time released fertilizers shouldnt be used in the seeding stage because they tend to slow the beginning growth. But they are easily added later with the advantage that they will not burn the flowers as some dry fertilizers do. They may seem higher in cost in the beginning but last longer between applications.

How to Make A Butterfly Garden

No matter where you live, it is possible to have a garden that both you and your butterfly guests will enjoy. Regional conditions of climate, geology, and architectural heritage exert varying degrees of influence on just what style of garden you design.

Ample sunshine is the foremost consideration. Butterflies avoid shady areas. Ideally, your garden should have a southern exposure. Butterflies use early morning sunlight for basking on sun-warmed rocks, bricks or gravel paths. As morning temperatures rise, they begin visiting their favorite nectar flowers, but always in sunlit areas of the garden.

They prefer gardens that are sheltered from prevailing winds. If yours is not, consider planting a windscreen of lilac, mock orange, butterfly bush or viburnum - all shrubs whose flowers are rich in nectar.

A butterfly garden's style is not as important as its content. It should offer nectar flowers throughout the growing season. Luckily, many of our most loved annuals and perennials are top-notch nectar sources.

Butterflies seem especially attracted to gardens boasting generous patches of a given nectar flower. If you plant red valerian, don't settle for one or two specimens. Try growing three or four patches of this especially popular nectar flower, and watch the swallowtails drift from clump to clump.

You may want to start from scratch and populate an entire garden solely with nectar plants, however, remember that a given flower that attracts butterflies in one area may not necessarily prove a favorite with differing species of butterflies in an other. Experiment and learn which flowers your local butterflies prefer.

Guidelines for Butterfly Gardening

Watch butterflies in nearby areas to see which flowers they prefer
Grow these plants and ones recommended above
Position plants in a sunny place, sheltered from wind
Grow large clumps of the most favored species
Try to maintain diversity in height, color and blooming periods
Avoid or limit your use of pesticides
Provide a mud puddle in a sunny spot
Grow larval plants for butterflies that appear in your garden
Try some plants in containers for increased flexibility
Leave some undisturbed corners for weedy larval and nectar plants  




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Last modified: September 5th, 2016