Planting pointers to make annual flower beds ‘pop’

By Gregg Eyestone

I would imagine that many flower beds get planted on Mother’s Day. The timing is usually right for soil temperatures.

Outdoor activity starts to heat up with a need to make the outdoor living space pop. Although some may not like the thought of planting each year, annuals provide the season long color and distinct foliage that accents the home landscape.

There are many choices of annuals. I like to start with the ones researched here in Kansas. The “Prairie Star” annuals list comes from trial sites across Kansas.

No retail outlet has them all since they come from many developers. The 2014 list is at our Riley County, K-State Research and Extension publication racks across Riley County. Your local Extension office will have a copy and the list with pictures is at

Most flowers come from a multi-branched stem. Like mums that are pinched until mid-July, annuals can be pinched to get more branches. I pinch my flowers while they are in the tray. It is faster that way.

Most people like to see their flowers in the bed before they remove all the blooms. It is worth the added wait.

Spacing is to ensure coverage of foliage over the soil prior to high soil temperatures. To have no exposed soil by the first part of June is the goal. High soil temperatures really reduce the vigor of the annual. Annual flower canopy that shades the soil will aid in gorgeous flowers.

Water and nitrogen fertilizer is important for the early season rapid growth. Water-soluble fertilizer can be added each week during the irrigation operation. I use a granular slow release nitrogen fertilizer to raise my annuals. A little nitrogen fertilizer throughout the grown season on annual flowers is the key.

Weeds can be pulled or an herbicide used. Wait three days after planting before using an herbicide that keeps weeds seeds from getting established.

Enjoy your flower planting. If you have time on Sunday, come see flowers at the KSU Gardens and our rose program at 2 p.m.

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