As with all plants in the Plant Kingdom annual flowers have their own water, light, temperature, soil, and food requirements. All these requirements must be provided for optimum plant growth and desired bloom (color). Often we find that one set of growing conditions can be used for a wide variety of plant species however we must be careful with our assumptions. Our plant care recommendations will start with a basic formulation used for all of our annuals with notations when needed to apply .
Before we continue it must be said that the plant can only perform as well as its true character will allow. Also, we should use a good healthy plant to start if we want to minimize the maintenance necessary to achieve the goal set for the garden. Quite often a plant is purchased by price only and not by the vigor of its root system and the general health of its canopy. You will find that higher price paid for a healthier plant will cost less in the long run to grow and ultimately receive greater reviews.
All About The Water
under proper soil conditions
All Annuals should be watered as soon as transplanting has been completed.
Most annuals when planted in the earth need to be watered well every 3 or 4 days for the two weeks immediately following installation when the daytime temperatures are in the 60 to 80 degree range with plenty of sunshine. This includes shade loving plants even though they do not receive sunny conditions all day long. A thorough soaking once a week should keep most annual flowers blooming bright all summer long.
After the young plants have developed a root mass and a plant canopy to shade its roots the watering can be backed off to once every 7 to 10 days which may be as soon as late spring if the days have been warm with mostly sunny conditions and the basic watering and food requirements have been met. Usually the plant canopy will grow immediately after the root mass has developed unless the plant is growing in “wet soil” which may result in a plant canopy with little or no root growth resulting in poor plant performance later in the season when the temperatures increase. This wet soil condition is usually found in heavy soils and/or a planting bed without proper drainage.
With an exception of cool weather plants your plants will show signs of overnight growth during the early to mid summer months. At this time the watering requirements will increase or decrease once again depending on weather conditions. During drought years you may have to go back to the 3 to 4 day watering, and during normal rainfall years you can stop watering and the plants will continue to perform on their own.
From mid summer to the end of the growing season your annuals, after having proper care, will not require any farther water needs other than average rainfall unless drought conditions persist. If so continue to water as needed, the plants will show a need for water by displaying a wilted (drooping) appearance like a flag on a calm day.
To conclude the basic watering needs, it is an observance of the precipitation the plants receive by rainfall with added irrigation when necessary (displayed by start of wilting) in a properly prepared soil that will promote optimum growth.
Water (in containers)
Proper watering in containers is more diverse than in a planting bed because quite often we do not know what the soil type is unless we planted this container or know how the grower prepares their containerized soil. Also with a wide size difference in containers and varieties of plants used in can be difficult to determine how much water to apply.
The most common containers used are the hanging basket, window box, and patio planter. The hanging basket is the most difficult to water because it is almost always purchased from a garden center which often buys from many different growers using different soil types.
The Chain Store garden centers usually purchase from a smaller number of large growers so the consumer has a more consistent soil type from year to year than most independent garden centers however because of the economics behind growing a inexpensive container the soil tends to be inferior to small growers standards, although inconsistent. This statement is not intended to direct your purchase, only to let the buyer beware.
Our advice for watering containerized plants will be given assuming the use of Murphy John’s products.
Murphy John’s containers are prepared with the highest grade peat/perlite based growing medium from Canada with Dolomitic & Calcitic Limestone, Macronutrients, Micronutrients, slow release fertilizers, water polymers, and a slow release insecticide. All these ingredients provide the plants with the soil to grow to their optimal potential. When a containerized plant grows at its maximum potential with its limited root zone it requires more water than plants grown in the earth. These containers are subject to adverse conditions other than a limited root zone such as higher wind, rapid and harsh temperature changes. Assuming sunny days our baskets typically require water once every two days during the early spring and as the days get longer and heat begins to strengthen a daily watering will be required. During windy conditions a daily watering will be required even during cloudy conditions.
Method we use to keep dogs out of the garden
Place sticks 6 -8" into the ground with tops sticking out off the ground, works well on our dog.
Where she is now - Maybe we should pull the sticks out!