Perennials & Annual Flowers
Here we are in May, the starting of our warm season in the Low Country. A common practice is to make yards more appealing by adding colorful flowers. There are a few different ways to do this. One is by adding flowering shrubs & trees to your garden or yard. While you can often get a bright burst of color from our local shrubs and trees, they are mostly short lived in their blooming season. The average is about 2 weeks with a few that go longer than that. This leaves approximately 50 weeks a year with just green foliage. So unless you have a big yard it is very hard to get year round color using just trees and shrubs.
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Another way is to add variegated plants to your landscape. While 75% of the plants are green, some varieties can be obtained that have yellow or white leaves on them. This makes a nice contrast with the dark green foliage and often gives shady or all green yards the feeling of having color.
A third way is by adding perennial flowers. While perennials often have a longer bloom time and return year after year, they still will not provide year round color as is often desired in nicer landscaping. Although there are some varieties such as Lantana & Society Garlic which bloom most of the summer, are deer resistant, and require little to no watering.
Verbena is a Nice Addition
Verbena is also one of my favorite perennials, but I have noticed over the years that they seem to peter out around 3-5 years. There are many other perennials that are out on the market that can provide good color, but often fall prey to local wildlife or cannot sustain themselves in too wet or too dry of a soil. They may also only bloom from 30-60 days, still leaving 8 to 10 months of a non-flowering plant.
The last, and in my opinion, best way to provide year-round color is in annual flowers. In May, we will start our spring planting of annual flowers. When choosing a place for annuals, it should be in a high visibility area. A common area is the front steps of the home or out by the entrance of the driveway where you enter the yard. They should be planted somewhere that you will be able to enjoy the color on a daily basis.
Preparation for annual flowers often includes: removing the winter annuals from the location where they were planted the previous fall, rotor tilling the area to provide good cultivation, and incorporating some compost, fertilizer, and a granular fungicide in wet areas. We then install the flower plugs in patterns that are appealing to the design of that yard. In general, the taller growing flowers go along the back and the shorter versions go in the front.
Some Notes About Annual Flowers
After planting, we check the water system to ensure that the new flowers get water. This is vital because they have such a small root system at this stage. These annual flowers can also be incorporated into pots and baskets around the house to provide the same year-round color. At the date that I was writing this article, it appears that we have begun a warm dry period. While no one can really predict the future, I would recommend increasing the water to your lawn by a day or two to ensure a healthy & lush garden.
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