Flowerscape Notes II: Planting and Maintenance

by Cindy Pantea

Flowerscape Cotter Park

Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape at E Market and Buchtel’s Cotter Park location

Welcome back to part two of Flowerscape Notes, which are tips based on the long-time expertise of retired Flowerscape Director Polly Kaczmarek. We hope yesterday’s blog helped with choosing flowers for your garden

The following suggestions have to do with planting and maintenance:

Deadheading and Weeding

Removing the dead flowers from your perennials (called deadheading) is necessary to keep your flowers in continuous bloom throughout the season. Some particular flowers that need deadheading are Ageratum, Marigold, and Cannas.

Obviously, weeding is necessary task for keeping beds beautiful. Polly says to remember that hoeing is not the same as weeding. You need to pull the weeds from the roots. She also suggests not putting weeds in your compost pile due to weed seeds that may contaminate your composting soil with weeds you don’t want.

Mulch is not Weed Control

Adding mulch to your flower bed is not a good source of weed control and can actually prohibit your flowers from spreading properly.

Side Note: Flowerscape Director, Leah Heiser, suggests an alternative to suppressing weeds, which is a product called Sweet Peet. Unlike mulch, Sweet Peet will not rob your soil of necessary nutrients, instead this organic materials adds them. Leah said that even if your bed is full of clay soil, a few years’ worth of Sweet Peet applications can improve your soil! The only con is that it is expensive, but yet may be well worth the cost, so shop around for best pricing.

Be a Careful Bed Planner

This one is especially necessary for our Adopt-A-Site volunteers but could be applicable to all. When planning your bed, be cognizant of roadways and signs. Flowers that grow tall, like Cannas for example, can cover entryway signage or block the views of drivers.

Downy Mildew Still Around

It seems that Downy Mildew on Impatiens plants can be controlled in greenhouses, so it is still being sold in stores. But beware, these Impatiens will likely breed the Downey Mildew fungus and affect your garden and even surrounding beds up to 8 miles!

Polly says that there is an alternative, which is the New Guinea Impatiens. New Guinea Impatiens have larger flowers and are doing well in the Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscapes.

Planting and Watering

Polly suggests watering your flowers well before planting, while still in the container. When ready to plant, remember to loosen the root balls so the plants will be able to take hold of the ground and spread out. Once planted, water again. Watch your plants closely one to three weeks after planting (they will need to be watered more often when they are newly planted).

Once your flowers are established, water every once or twice a week. Investing in a sprinkler system is best.

Here’s to a blooming 2016!

Flowerscape Notes I: Choosing the Best Flowers

by Cindy Pantea

Flowerscape Mill St and Main

Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape at Mill Street Island West of Main

Polly Kaczmarek presented for her final time at the Keep Akron Beautiful Adopt-A-Site Clinic on Wednesday, April 7, 2016. Polly, Keep Akron Beautiful’s retired Flowerscape Director, will continue working for the agency on a contract only basis to train our new Flowerscape Director, Leah Heiser.

As always, Polly gave some great information about flowers, planting flower beds and garden maintenance from her years of experience, which we wanted to share with one and all!

Let’s start with choosing flowers. You need to know the pros and cons. We’ve listed flowers used most often in Keep Akron Beautiful’s Flowerscape beds by Polly with information on what to expect with blooms, typical growth pattern and maintenance based on Polly’s experience (Look for the asterisk (*) if you want a low maintenance flower):

  • Alyssum – A great border flower and can reseed itself.
  • Begonias* – Looking for a low maintenance flower? Begonias may needs to be shaped up a little but doesn’t require deadheading and is a great, semi-shade-loving border flower.
  • Cannas – Great height, but will need deadheading. Save the tubers though! It’s a great sharing flower.
  • Celosa – Got poor soil? Celosa may be for you. This type of flower likes hot, dry weather and poor soil.
  • Dahlia – Want to save some money each year? Save your Dahlia tubers, they will grow again!
  • Dianthus – A great mixer flower. The con: This type of flower goes out of bloom and is unreliable in coming back to bloom, so you want to plant along with other flowers that bloom more consistently.
  • Dusty Miller – Great for texture! May need shaped up and flowers cut back.
  • New Guinea Impatiens* – Great flower for lots of color and low maintenance. Blooms are larger than regular Impatiens and you don’t have to worry about the Downy Mildew fungus with New Guinea Impatiens!
  • Petunia – Polly says you get “lots of bang for your buck” with Petunias! These spread well and you won’t need a lot, especially the Supertunias. If they get straggly, you may need to cut stems back, which will cause them to lose color, but they will come back.
  • Portalucas – Another great border choice and they reseed! The only drawback is the flower will close up on cloudy days. Plant these with other more consistent bloomers.
  • Tall Salvias – One of Polly’s favorite for height. Can get up to 18-24”.
  • Blue Salvia – Looking for great color? Blue Salvia’s tint goes with many different color shades and really make all the colorful beauty stand out.
  • Snapdragons – Dwarf, medium height and Rocket (tall ones) available. Keep in mind that the drawback with the Rocket Snapdragons are that they need to be staked. You can pinch back to encourage bushier plants but eventually the Rocket variety will need staked. Cons with all Snapdragons: (1) Need deadheaded and (2) Like the Dianthus, this flower goes out of bloom and is unreliable in coming back to into bloom, so plant with other flowers that bloom more consistently.
  • Marigold – Great flowers that bloom well but will require a lot of deadheading to keep beds looking nice.
  • Vincas* – Another low maintenance flower that doesn’t require deadheading!
  • Profusion Zinnias* – A great filler flower that is low maintenance.

Want more tips? Part II of Flowerscape Notes will cover planting and maintenance. Look for Part II tomorrow!