I am often asked about germ rates and how long seeds are viable. One of the anecdotes I like to to tell is about seeds in the desert. There are seeds that stay dormant for tens if not a hundred years waiting for the rains to come in order to bloom. They germinate, bloom and re-seed only to emerge again many years later. Most seeds will keep their germ rate for a couple of years no problem. The key is to store them in a dry cool environment where they do not “sweat” or produce moisture that could cause them to mold. Some people refrigerate seed to keep them fresh and to hasten germination. One they hit a warmer temperature they pop out of dormancy faster but this is not required. Some seed actually increase in gemination rate for up to a year after they are harvested then slowly decline. Very slowly. If you have see left over from last year and you have stored them properly there is a very good chance they are still good and will bloom.
Fall is a difficult time for many of us. We are tired of fighting weeds and the garden starts to look pretty tired. Hats off to those who are able to keep things tidy. It is a good time to take stock of plant placements, figure out what you might want to transplant next spring and of core time to plant bulbs. Another thing you might consider is planting a cover crop. If planted early enough they can provide color but more importantly they can help keep nutrients in the sol. Crimson clover is an ideal winter cover crop. It has the ability to absorb ground nutrients and store them in their root system. In the spring you need only work them back into the soil to replenish what otherwise might have leach away. Plant ahead of the winter rains and you will have a organic “green manure” next spring in addition to crowding out weeds.
Spring sowing for perennials. Perennial flowers typically take 2 seasons to mature. The first year may give you foliage but no flowers as there plant spends most of its energy creating roots, but the advantage to planting them is a garden that repeats itself year after year. Most established gardens contain many perennials and most of them are relatively easy to start from seed. Plants such as Dianthus/Sweet William, Lupin, Poppies do not like to be transplanted so it is best to seed them directly where you want them to be. Spring is a good time to start many perennials but you will need to remember (take a flower selfie) where you planted the seed so you do not mistake them for weeds later on. Other spring seeds: Yarrow, Shasta daisy (can be invasive) catnip, coreopsis .
Spoke with the grower this morning. This field of Shirley poppies was planted last year. A sept storm knocked all the seed pods to the ground. One year later these are all “volunteers”. I love Nature.
Photo: Spoke with the grower this morning. This field of Shirley poppies was planted last year. A sept storm knocked all the seed pods to the ground. One year later these are all “volunteers”. I love Nature.
Zinnias. California Giant, Elegans. Zinnias are the staple of the flower garden. They are easy to grow and make a wonderful cut flower. The mix is made up of individual colors including red, pink, white, orange, violet and purple and individual colors are available. Zinnias are hot weather plants and do not need to be planted early as they will basically wait until everything warms up. Sow from May-July in full sun. Stagger planting for longer blooms. Plant where they are to grow in well drained rich soil. Zinnias do not like to be watered from above so try and keep the irrigation at ground level. Feed generously. Elegans will grow to about 1-3 ft tall. In perfect conditions the flower heads can grow up to 5-7 in across. As a side benefit butterflies like them and a customer of mine that lives in Hawaii plants them every year to attract Monarchs. Hard to beat!!!! See all the varieties including the Lilliput which is a smaller button type scalloped head. WWW.flowersoul.com
Need to decorate a cake or want to visually spice up a salad? Give fun edible wedding favors? Here are a few flowers that can be used and are relatively easy to grow From Flower Art & Soul:
Calendula: Also called marigolds although they look a little different. Sharp taste resembling Safron. Good in soups, pasta or rice dishes. Basically anywhere you might use Safron.
Carnation: (Sweet William). Dianthus. Steep in wine candy or use as cake decoration. Be sure to cut the petals away from the base as it can be bitter. Add color to salads or aspics. Has been used since the 17th Century in the making of Chartreuse, a liqueur.
Nasturtium Oronge/Yellow. Tropaeolum . In addition to attracting butterflies this delightful flower has a spicy, peppery taste. It is a wonderful garnish for all dishes and cakes.
Spring of Early Summer Wedding? The spring mix from Flower Art & Soul is the perfect ingredient for wedding favors. There are annuals (bloom once the first year, typically spring & summer) and Perennials (don’t bloom the first year but come back for many years). Some annuals will reseed themselves while some perennials will spread but most just keep coming back year after year. Here is what is typically included in the mix:
Bachelor Button, Cosmos, Baby’s Breath, Dames Rocket, Love in a Mist, Chinese forget me Nots, Perennial Lupin, Shasta Daisy, Perennial and Annual Flax, Black Eye Susan, Cal Poppy, Calendula, Blanket Flower, Indian Blanket, Red Corn Poppy, Rocket Larkspur, Sweet William, Coneflowers, Clarkia, Catchfly to name a few. The mix will grow in virtually any zone and is best planted in early spring or as late as early June. It can be mixed with sand or pot pourie to help spread the seed. 1 lb of mix will make between 150-200 teaspoons which will give you a small splash of color and is more than you typically get in the store seed packets. A great way for everyone to remember the happy event. May your love grow!
Wishing everyone a wonderful and blooming new year. Time to start thinking about starting your seeds indoors for spring plant time. Use biodegradable egg cartons or egg shells with holes on the bottom and you will not have to take your seedlings out of their cozy beds. Starting your seeds indoors gives the plants a jump start. Be sure to harden them off before leaving them outdoors. Typically plants can survive outside once temps do not go below45-50 at night (I know… along ways away but it will come). Herbs in particular are easy to start indoors in pots. Basil is great and you can begin having fresh basil before spring. Easy to just place outside on the patio. Once you get accustomed to fresh herbs you will find it hard to use dried varieties. Most herbs will grow in pots in a sunny window as long as it’s not too hot inside. Happy new beginnings!
Red Corn Poppy, Papaver Rhoeas is one of the most recognized and colorful spring flower. It has been memorialized from the WWI poem by John McCrae “In flanders fields” written about the bright red poppies that grew over the graves of soldiers buried in the Flanders fields in France. It is now commonly used as a flower of remembrance. Poppies are easy to grow and are notorious self-sowers so they come back year after year. They do not transplant well so it is best to sow them in place.
There are several ways to plant them. One tried and true method is to scatter the seeds in the late winter, mid Feb-March directly on the ground or over snow. This method reduces the bird eating factor. The seeds are very small so it is useful to mix them with sand for an even distribution. Poppies can also be planted in the early spring in well prepared sol. Poppies once established do not like wet feet so watering needs are small except when germinating. Once they have germinated and started to grow they should be thinned, pulling the smaller plants out and giving the stronger ones plenty of room and light. When planting the seeds do not cover them with much soil as they require light to germinate. A light raking is plenty, just enough to discourage birds.
Planting can be staggered in order to lengthen the blooming time. Deadheading will also increase blooms. Poppies are relatively tall and very free spirited. They dance in the wind and do well when planted en mass. Some varieties can be grown in containers but typically poppies do better in the open. They will compete with grasses so can be used in meadow planting. Pick them for cut flowers once the color starts to appear in the pods. Seed can be collected and are numerous but you have to be alert as they shatter quite easily. Red corn poppy and Shirley poppy are very similar. Nudicaule or Iceland Poppy is a short lived perennial although often treated as an annual in mild winter climates.
California Poppy or Eschscholzia californica is the California State flower and grows wild in many areas from the North to South America. In milder climates they are perennials, in colder climates they are treted as annuals. They typically have been orange but also come in white and red. They re-seed easily and are often used by highway departments as they are drought tolerant and have minimal water requirements.
All poppies require sun although some will tolerate partial shade.
We have several varieties and colors on the web site. WWW.flowersoul.com
Early fall is a good time to take a good look at your flowerbeds. The first thing to do is take pictures. That camera on your phone does have some handy uses! Take pictures of all areas so you can remember what is growing where. Once you have an idea of what you might like to change lay the groundwork down for next year.
Cut back all perennials that are past their bloom or that do not look interesting in a winter garden. Most perennials can be cut back to the ground.
Transplant and divide any plants that need it, that have outgrown their space or fill in areas. Rule of thumb: transplant spring blooms in the fall, fall blooms in the spring. Fertilizing should be left for spring so mulching is a good thing to do. It protects the roots and helps control weeds.
After the first frost is a good time to seed areas that need annuals for next year. Overseed perennial beds to help crowd out weeds and give your annuals a jump start for spring. Fall is when nature seeds.
Once you have rearranged and seeded, water the soil if it has not already started to rain.
Winter cover crops such as crimson clover should be planted now. They will emerge in early spring and can be turned into the soil to replenish nutrients. Happy gardening!