Refresh Flowers & Plants in Late Summer

Late in the growing season many of our annuals and perennials start getting pretty ragged looking and blooming has dramatically reduced or there are no flowers at all.

Refresh-plants-wilted-foliage by Midwest Gardening.jpg

Generally the problem is a simple maintenance issue.  For certain shrubs perhaps you pruned at the wrong time and removed flower buds, or you should have pruned after the first flowering to produce more blooms.  Perennials and annuals live to reproduce, which they do by flowering which creates seeds.  If you have not been deadheading (removing spent flowers) the plant believes it has completed its mission and stops producing flowers.  If you remove those spent blooms, the plant wants to quickly produce more so that it can reproduce.

Refresh-plants-few-blooms by Midwest Gardening.jpg

Container grown plants may have virtually filled up their container with roots by end of season and perhaps you may even need to transplant them to a larger pot.  Plants that have gotten large are vigorously competing for food and water.  To make matters worse, it may have been hot with no rain.  Last month everything looked so lush you thought maybe you could slack off on your maintenance a bit, but large plants need water now more than ever.

That same heat and dry soil may be causing stress to your plants, whether they are in containers or in the ground.  Not only are they not flowering, but the foliage may be looking ragged, wilted and even turning brown.  It heat is sever there may not be much you can do, but certainly make sure the plants get enough water.  You could also put containers in the shade and erect a screen to provide for bedding plants in the hottest part of the day.  I have clipped burlap to a flat folding tomato cage or garden stakes to shield plants from sun in both summer and winter.

As for our annuals and perennials, they may be just plain hungry!  As I mentioned, your plants have gotten quite large and are using up a lot of energy growing and producing flowers.  Some of them need more food than ever now.  Container plants need to be fertilized every week for a number of reason, check out the previous article about maintaining hanging baskets and containers.  Annuals planted in the ground also need to continue to receive regular feeding to remain healthy and flower continuously.  Hybrid perennials are often heavy feeders and may require regular feeding to continue to bloom.

Refresh-plants-Monarda by Midwest Gardening.jpg

Now don’t just go out and soak everything down with water and fertilizer!  Be sure you remember which plants prefer minimal water to thrive.  And some perennials, as well as certain annuals for that matter, bloom best when grown in poor soil with low fertility.  So double check the needs of your specific plants.  Then get out there and remove spent blooms, faded foliage, water and feed as needed.  Your plants will look dramatically better in no time.

Sharon Dwyer