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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
 
John Cushnie On...
 

Success With Summer Bedding Plants
1 May 2003

There is no doubt that summer flowering annuals and plants treated as annuals make an impressive display in gardens and public plantings in town centres.

They can, however, be a total failure if they aren’t treated with TLC. Whether you have grown them from seed or bought the plants it will be necessary to harden them off before planting out in the garden. Killer frosts can be expected until the latter half of May so gradually acclimatise the young plants to outside conditions. The planting site should be free of perennial weeds. Cultivate the soil until it is a fine tilth with any lumps and large stones raked off. Covering the soil surface with polythene or horticultural fleece will help to warm it up and encourage annual weeds to germinate. Remove these immediately before planting to let the good guys get a head start on the next batch of weed thugs. Most annuals prefer a sunny situation sheltered from cold winds. Rake in a base dressing of Growmore granular fertilizer at 2 ozs (60 grams) per square yard before planting.

Planting distance will depend on the variety but a close spacing of 9 inches will ensure a carpet of summer colour for most annuals.
Nipping out the growing tip will encourage annuals to form side shoots and become bushy, resulting in more flowers per plant.

Bloody cranesbill Geranium Find out the ultimate height of the plants and design accordingly. If the plant height drops off towards the edge of the bed and rises towards the centre all the flowers will be easily seen. The occasional higher dot plant will be impressive and draw the eye to the planting. Removing the dead flowers before they set seed will permit more buds to form providing a succession of colour well into the autumn.

Geraniums can be treated as annuals and be dumped or included in the compost heap at the end of the season. Alternatively they can be lifted and potted. Stored in a frost free glasshouse they may be
replanted the following spring.

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