Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Shopping for Annuals

Hello fellow readers,

Mother’s Day triggers shopping for Annuals as gifts and adding continuous color to our gardens and pots. There’s something fun about being in the frenzy of it all – The hurry to grab a plant cart, drooling over all the colors, and the tendency to load up without a strategy and becoming dizzy in confusion. I’ll have to admit I often end up shopping despite the rush.

Before you shop, please go through the usual considerations; inventory your intentions of where they’ll go, site conditions, planting space, and the issue of deer.  If you buy plants for potted gardens, the cultural considerations for plant choices sharing a pot must be the same. Nurseries don’t always arrange their inventory that way, so read the labels for sun versus shade.

Beware of the risks and perils of shopping for annuals. Choosing on appearances alone (you know better than that), bringing home the uninvited (pests, that is), and selecting those that may be too mature. Rather than going for a plant in full bloom, choose ones that are yet to bloom or have only a few flower buds.  That way, the plant can develop a robust root system to produce all-season color rather than a rush of bloom followed by a quick decline.  It turns out that removing flower buds is a technique to encourage root development.

Speaking of roots, look for fully developed roots without being root-bound. How can you tell without slipping them out of the pot asked Cheryl of Johnsonburg? It’s all in the feel of the pot- kind of like choosing a cantaloupe.  Feel its weight in relation to the size and a gentle squeeze to feel if the roots are too tight in the pot.  Look for plants that are full-figured rather than tall and leggy. Yeah, baby! And stay clear of spotted, discolored, or holey foliage which may be evidence of disease or insects.

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Did you know?  Many trash services do not accept nursery pots for recycling because of the plastic used to make them (polypropylene). So they could end up in landfills. When you buy your plants, ask if the nursery has a recycling program for pots.  Or, consider buying plants in biodegradable pots such as those made of peat moss, coconut husks, or composted cow manure.

Link to a story about the History & Meaning of Mother’s Day

Column Updated 5/8/22

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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