Plant Secrets for Garden Success

As you garden, you start learning the little secrets for success that you sure wish someone had told you right off the bat.  Instead of learning the hard way, which costs in time and money, here are some of the little known secrets for tricky plants:

  • Clematis is one of the prettiest perennial vines you can find, but growing it can be tricky. Clematis needs sun for flowering, but its roots hate the heat.  Pile bricks around the base, but not on the base to shade roots to keep them cool.
  • Roses are notoriously finicky and need care – but there are new varieties available that are low maintenance.  The easiest way to prune a rose bush – cut back after it blooms just above the nearest group of five leaves.
  • Coreopsis is the work horse of the perennial garden with a bloom time that can rival any annual.  Deadheading is recommended, but with hundreds of blooms to contend with, wait until the first bloom wanes and cut it back for a whole new batch of blooms.  Shear the entire plant down to four to six inches,  it comes back quickly.
  • Bee Balm is a star in a cottage garden, but doesn’t have the longest bloom time and can fade quickly – you can stimulate a second flowering in the same season by cutting the flowers right after they bloom and start to fade.
  • For fall color, nothing beats Mums and Asters, but they are actually late Spring/early summer bloomers.  Cut them back when they reach a 12-16 inch height to delay the bloom until fall, you may have to do this twice.  You’ll end up with fall color with more compact plants with many more flowers.
  • Daylilies are stunning in a border or cottage garden, but come July they can look scraggly.  They produce only one cluster of flowers on each stem.  Remove the entire stem when the bloom is finished.  On repeat bloomers, such as the Stella D’Oro, it will encourage reblooming.  On single bloomers, it improves the appearance.  If the foliage of a daylily starts looking really rough, you can cut it back to 2-3 inches after bloom to promote lush, new growth.
  • Lavender not only has gorgeous silver foliage, but the scent is out of this world.  Blooms can be dried for potpourri as well.  But lavender gets leggy and scrawny and hard to handle, prune it back immediately after bloom to keep it nice and neat.  If your lavender looks like it passed the point of no return, cut it back to half way when the new growth starts in the Spring, it not only rejuvenates the plants and starts the compacting process, but it removes growth killed over the winter.
  • Yarrow has a lovely feathery foliage that begins peaking out at the first sight of spring until its first bloom in early summer.  Go for a second bloom by cutting back after blooms are spent to about 1 to 2 inches from the ground.
  • Dianthus or carnations are not only lovely in cutting gardens, but in borders as well – but there is a trick to growing them – do not mulch!  They need circulation around the stems at all times and they don’t like wet leaves, so water at the root.
  • If you buy a hibiscus every year for summer tropical color, save your money and just bring it in each year.  If they’re kept in a warm, sunny environment inside, they will make it through the winter for next year’s work.  Use a hibiscus fertilizer and sprinkle on soil once a month and water weekly.