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 for continuous color in our gardens and pots.  I’ll have to admit I often end up shopping despite the rush.  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.

Before you shop go through the usual considerations; inventory your intentions of where they’ll go, site conditions, planting space, and the issue of deer.  If you are buying for potted gardens obviously the cultural considerations for plant choices sharing a pot must be the same. Nurseries don’t always arrange their inventory that way so read 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 put energy into developing a strong root system to produce all-season color rather than a rush of bloom followed by a quick decline.  In fact, 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.

Garden dilemmas?

Did you know?  Many trash services do not accept nursery pots for recycling because of the type of plastic used to make them (polypropylene). So they could end up in landfill. 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.

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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