• 59°

Darrell Blackwelder: Bedding plants add fresh color

Bright

Darrell Blackwelder/For the Salisbury Post The variety of colors makes bedding plants attractive to home gardeners.

Cooler weather last week halted many garden activities for fear of late a frost. April 15th is typically the last frost free date in Rowan County.

But experienced gardeners know to take the date with a grain of salt and keep an eye on the extended weather forecasts. Be careful when planting tender annuals as unseasonable frosts often nips tender plants.

Those with the impulse to add a splash of color and texture to their landscapes with annuals and perennials should prepare planting beds before buying plants. Existing beds with pansies and other cool season annuals should come out soon. It seems like a waste to remove perfectly blooming plants, but the best quality and hard-to-find summer annuals and perennials often sell out early at local retail outlets.

Preparing the soil is very important, especially for those who have clay soils. Tight clay soils can be a challenge, but with proper modification these soils can easily produce beautiful flowers throughout the summer.

These soils should be amended to improve drainage and increase oxygen necessary for root expansion. The best amendments for clay soils are ground pine bark (often called soil enhancers), less than a half-inch in diameter, composted leaf mold, and PermaTill.

PermaTill is a manufactured natural amendment made from slate rock, heated to expand and provide pore space for tight clay soils. Using a combination of these amendments can greatly improve bedding plant growth and development.

Make sure that leaf mold or compost is fully composted and not merely aged before adding the soil. Organic materials that are not fully decomposed will compete with transplants for nutrients, especially nitrogen and sulfur, resulting in nutrient deficiencies and poor plant growth.

Peat moss, sand, hardwood bark, sawdust, fresh wood chips and pine straw are not recommended as an amendment for clay soils. Addition of these materials does not adequately improve the physical properties of a clay soil. In fact, sand added to clay makes the soil more like a brick.

Most annuals and perennials grow best with a soil pH around 6.5 to 7.0. Soil testing is important to determine fertility rates in acid soils.

Blend the soil amendments into the soil with a tiller or use a shovel to combine soil amendments into the planting area. The planting medium should be friable and easy to work. Transplants should be placed in hole twice the size of the rootball.

Plant the transplants at the same level as they were growing in the cell pack. Gently press the soil around the rootball and water thoroughly. Mulch with two to three inches of pine bark or other fine mulch materials. Pine needles work well around shrubs and other woody plant materials, but it’s a nightmare to use pine needles as mulch for annual bedding plants.

Other important tips:

  • Choose bedding plants that adapt to the location. For example, bedding plants that must have full sun do poorly in shady locations.
  • Irrigate on a regular basis early in the morning if possible. Keep the foliage as dry as possible to reduce disease pressure. Most bedding plants may require about an inch or more a week during the heat of the summer.
  • Fertilize the bedding plants at least twice a month with high phosphate liquid fertilizer to promote blooms. Osmocote or other slow-release fertilizers can also be implemented for full season fertilization.
  • Dead head spent blooms if possible to encourage constant and prolific blooming.
  • Weed often to keep the plants looking good and reduce competition for light and nutrients.
  • Keep a diary of your planting. It will come in handy next season.

Comments

Education

One speaks, two write to oppose Enochville Elementary closure

Local

City partners with Rowan Helping Ministries to establish donation-driven utilities assistance program

Elections

Board of Elections continues counting absentee ballots, resumes ‘curing’ deficient ones

Business

County commissioners delay consideration of new events center in China Grove

Coronavirus

New COVID-19 outbreak emerges at N.C. State Veterans Home, another declared over

Crime

Police: Two armed men rob local convenience store

Crime

Blotter: Local woman swindled out of hundreds in gift card scam

News

‘People are the parade’: Salisbury’s annual Christmas parade reinvents itself in year of coronavirus

News

Commissioners grant permit, allow Reaper’s Realm to continue operations for remainder of Halloween season

Elections

Republican Rep. Budd maintains fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Huffman

Local

City council to consider ‘Share 2 Care’ fund for locals behind on water, sewer payments

Education

None speak against closure during hearing to shutter Faith Elementary

Crime

Blotter: Police find car windows shot out, bullet holes in home on West Horah Street

Crime

Five held at gunpoint in East Lafayette Street robbery

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask questions about Shober Bridge, voting safeguards

Elections

Political notebook: More than 1.4 million votes cast already in North Carolina

Elections

‘Souls to the polls’: More than 1,300 cast ballots on first Sunday of early voting

Crime

Crime blotter: Salisbury man faces charges for firing shotgun in city limits, drug possession

Local

Search continues for missing hiker from Asheville

Local

A stroll through the scarecrows: fall-themed activity draws visitors to NC Transportation Museum

Elections

Despite scandal, Cunningham maintains small lead in Senate race; supporters say policy positions more important

Lifestyle

Rowan Helping Ministries golf tournament raises $20,000

Local

Town of Spencer forging ahead five years after drafting plans for Park Plaza

Business

Biz Roundup: RCCC to host conference on diversity, equity and inclusion