Plant a Sea of Colorful Flowers This Week

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Difficulty: Beginner

 

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Your garden is ready to be transformed into a sea of color.

If you planted annual flower seeds, you’ve got trays of sturdy seedlings ready for the garden. Moving them outside isn’t hard, if you do it over the course of a week or so.

The easiest way to transform your garden with colorful flowers is to buy young plants, known as annual starts, in packs or containers at the Garden Center. The hardest part is deciding which flowers and colors to choose.

If you haven’t tested your soil recently, conduct a simple soil test to check pH levels or nutrient deficiencies and amend your soil as needed. (See more on soil tests.)

HOW TO PLANT ANNUAL FLOWERS:

  1. Read your plant tags or ask your Garden Center associate when it’s safe to plant your flowers in the garden.
  2. If you have to hold your flowers for a few days before you plant, don’t let them dry out. Keep them in a protected spot on a porch or under a tree. 
  3. When you’re ready to plant, dig holes with a trowel or make a larger bed with a shovel.
  4. Mix some compost and any amendments indicated from the soil test into the soil.
  5. Remove the plants from their pots and loosen their roots.
  6. Place the plants in the ground at the same level they were growing in their pots.
  7. Replace the soil and gently firm it around the plants, being careful not to damage their roots.
  8. Apply fertilizer and water thoroughly. 
  9. Add mulch to keep water in and control weeds later.

HOW TO TRANSPLANT SEEDLINGS:

Before you move your seedlings outside, look at the seed packet to see what kind of flowers you have: tender, half-hardy or hardy annuals. Wait until after the last frost in your area to transplant tender annuals. Half-hardy annuals can survive a few brief, light frosts with temperatures no lower than 35 to 45 degrees. Hardy annuals can tolerate one or two short, light freezes.

  1. Find the average date of the last frost or freeze in your area to know when it’s safe to transplant the kind of annuals you’re growing.
  2. Count 7 to 10 days back from that date and follow this schedule to harden them off – the process of moving seedlings in and out to ready them for a permanent home outside.
  • Day 1: Place your seedlings outside in a sheltered location for 3 to 4 hours. Then bring them in.
  • Day 2: Place plants outside for 5 to 6 hours. Bring them in again.
  • Days 3-7: Increase their time outdoors by 2 hours each day with a few hours of morning sun. Move them to the shade in the afternoon, and bring them in each night.
  • Day 7: Place the seedlings in the sun all day. Leave them out all night, unless the temperatures drop below 50 degrees.
  • Day 10: Plant the seedlings in your garden. Water them and apply mulch.

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