Column: The Garden Girl – Flower Power

August 31, 2014 15:34 pm · 16 comments


There is still time to get another push of flower power from summer annuals and perennials. Although the calendar is saying that summer is nearing the end, with a touch of pruning and a dash of fertilizer Claycord flowers can burst into another round of bloom.

Pruning perennials that bloom during the summer encourages new growth, which in turn generates flower buds. Penstomen, salvia, roses, coreopsis, dahlias, nepeta, rudbeckia, lavender and nepeta are among the easiest perennials jolt into flower.

When pruning perennials you need to remove the faded flowers. Prune back within the plant’s body to the new growth. The deeper the down you go for the cuts, the more fresh foliage that you’ll encourage. Take some time and prune each stem by hand using bypass pruners. Cutting too many stems at once can make your perennials look too formal. Leave formal cutting to the hedges.

Once your pruning is finished, follow up with a dose of fertilizer to encourage growth. Consider a water-soluble product with a 15-6-3 (or close). The first number of this formula will initiate foliage growth. It is good ideas to purchase a product with an added soil penetrate. Soil penetrates assist the products to travel farther into the ground. After application, follow up with an application of water.

Give your perennials 2-3 weeks to begin to show the affects of the fertilizer. On or after the third week, apply another water-soluble fertilizer. This time use a 2-10-10 formula which would be encouraging flower rather than growth. Again, look for products with added soil penetrate. This final application will be your last feeding of the summer perennials. You’ll get enjoyment of flower through mid to late October depending on the weather, and then you’ll need to let your plants rest.

The right fertilizers at the right times will stretch your flower season, and allow you to get so much more out of your garden.

Happy Gardening.

Nicole Hackett is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio and Gardens, located at 6780 Marsh Creek Road in Clayton, 925-672-0207.

Nicole writes for the Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, and She is also the Clayton Valley Garden Club 2012 President.

1 milly August 31, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Learn something new when ever i read your column.Keeping a copy for my garden file..thanks

2 Antler August 31, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Thanks of another burst of information I really can use….you’re the best!

Re your article about succulents, I just saw a picture of a “Mother of Thousands” with its leaves edged in little pinkish-purple flowers. Does that grow well outside in the Claycord area? And is it invasive?

Thank you, and happy day!

3 Dr. Jellyfinger® August 31, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Garden Girl, I took umbrage to your cutting remarks.

4 Mark August 31, 2014 at 4:53 PM

This a bit off topic but having a nice healthy lawn is important to me, because of the drought I let my grass die which really bummed me out. I came home from work the other day and my grass was green again. My wife is so cute, she was watching youtube and learned how to make green dye for the grass.

She bought a big bottle of green food coloring mixed it with Epsom Salt and Miracle Grow sprayed the lawn with it and made it green again.

It did not last very long but it was pretty cool.

5 Julio August 31, 2014 at 5:09 PM

We have been deadheading all our summer flowers, petunias, marigolds and others. It is give us months of fantastic color!

Thanks for your good info!

6 Atticus Thraxx August 31, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Garden Girl. I have some milkweed that I’ve pulled a bunch of the seeds from. Want to start new patches. Do I wait for the spring and plant them or put them in now?

7 Marianne August 31, 2014 at 6:47 PM

I have foliage similar to what is in the picture and I have been trying to encourage new growth. Thanks for the info, Garden girl.

8 Antler August 31, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Dr. Jelly, would you please tell Atticus where and when he might plant those milkweed seeds? ;-)

9 Silva August 31, 2014 at 9:52 PM

We should all be planting as much milkweed as we can, the monarch butterflies need serious help.

10 Curry August 31, 2014 at 10:10 PM

Garden Girl, your column is spectacular.

11 City Girl August 31, 2014 at 10:32 PM

I, too, LOVE plants that attract butterflies and bees. I have a 4-ft. Butterfly Bush that attracts MANY of he small golden butterflies but only a few Monarchs. Whenever I see a Monarch I jump for joy, call out the kids (grown) and try to snap pictures. The funny thing is that the Monarchs always seem to know when there picture is about to be snapped, as they close their wings or fly away.

I wish everyone would plant a Butterfly Bush. They have large purple flowers from about April or May until fall.

12 Michelle(original) August 31, 2014 at 11:19 PM

Thank you, Antler, no more “milk” weeds please. They draw pests and other non-wanton things. Atticus, you may want to wait until next spring.

13 Shelly September 1, 2014 at 5:54 AM

Atticus Thraxx, Many years ago I planted a milkweed in my back 40 over in Oakland. Recently as I tended some veggies I noticed several milkweeds in the vicivity of the original. They seem to reseed themselves quite well. Plants in Oakland all do very well with little to no care, but I remember growing up in Lafayette it was all over the place, along with lots of monarch catapillars. That in itself suggests to me that seeds don’t need to be much below the surface, or require much coddling, It should just grow, um, like a weed!

14 Atticus Thraxx September 1, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Maybe I should get them in the ground. I was thinking, with my daily commute, if I get in a crazy wreck and I’m laying on the freeway slowly bleeding to death I don’t want to be thinking damn! I should have planted those milkweed seeds. Thanks everyone.

15 Wellgeez September 1, 2014 at 12:02 PM

What a great column! I’d love to know what to do with my garden to prepare for the cooler months as well

16 Sherry Doyle September 2, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Will this trick work for my daisies? I find myself saddened that they are nearing the end.

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