Saturday, June 6, 2015

Plants that say “thank you” year after year

Annual flowers are great at filling in that empty space, adding more color to a basic green sea or accent your border, but did you know that certain annuals and perennials are known to save planting time every year. This plant group are called “self-sowers,” which means their final act after they finished blooming is to reward you for planting them by scattering their own seed for next years bloom. But be careful as some self-sowing flowers can over-do their thank you by becoming invasive. Remember self-sowing flowers can have their seeds end up almost 20 feet away with the help of the wind and some have root stems that spread underground. So before you plant – do your research on which plants are or are not invasive and make sure you check all the names the plant is listed under.

To keep heavy blooming self- sowing flowers from producing to many seeds you can deadhead over half of the flowers before they set seeds. Many times dead-heading will cause the plant to re-bloom and you will have to repeat the process or since seed heads contain a lot of seeds you can let only a handful of blooms complete the process of going to seed, collect them and plant them where you want them to grow. To further help self-sowers, lay down a small amount of your favorite fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season, loosen the soil around the plant when the flowers start to die off so when the seeds fall they will embed into the soil, and before the snow falls cover the area with a light layer of mulch (like fallen leaves) to help them get though the winter.

Centaurea – perennial, rapid spreader, could prove to be nuisance
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Kochia – annual, can be weedy in mild regions
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Rudbeckia – annual/perennial, sows seeds freely but long blooming and trouble free
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Liriope – perennial, ground cover, some varies spread by underground stems
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Some great self-sowers: Nasturtium, Cosmos, California poppy, Coreopsis, and Sunflower.

Cleome/Spider flower – annual, flowers close in afternoon, generally trouble free
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Coneflower – annual, blooms best in cool weather, good cut flower
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Sweet Willliam – annual, can be perennial in cooler zones 
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Coreopsis – annual, easy to grow, cut flower, cut first bloom to get re-bloom

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