It seems straightforward enough, right? Water your plants and they will grow. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that, but at the same time it’s not all that complicated either. There is not a handbook for watering, but keep a few simple things in mind and you’ll get the results you are hoping for. Using the right tools: soaker hoses, lightweight hoses, sprinklers, rain barrels and irrigation timers can help make your job easier. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
The Best Way to Water
• Focus on the root zone. Daily light sprinklings encourage the roots to grow near the surface making them vulnerable to drying out instead of growing a deep, healthy root ball. Remember that it’s the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease. There is no value in watering if the water runs down the outside of the root ball or pot leaving the roots of the plant dry. Slower watering, especially at first, will help make sure the water soaks in to the root ball.
• Water only when needed. If we are in a stretch where we are getting frequent rain, which is not the case in the Lakes Region at the moment, then it’s ok to cut back on watering. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little. Plant roots need a fairly constant supply of both air and water. Too little water and the roots die from lack of moisture. Too much water and the spaces between soil particles remain filled with water, suffocating roots. Both situations reduce a plant’s ability to deliver enough water to stems and leaves, resulting in wilting. The only way to tell if lack of water is causing wilting is to check soil moisture.
• Water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals don’t need to be watered quite as deeply as perennials, shrubs and trees. Move the soil away with your hand or a garden tool to be sure that the water is actually soaking down to the root system. Watering at the base of the plant instead of from overhead, loses less water to evaporation.
• Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It’s much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
• Mulch everything. Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
Use the right tool. For efficient watering at the root zone, use a soaker hose or an even more precise drip irrigation system instead of a sprinkler.
Container gardening is one of the most popular ways to add interest and color to any outdoor space. The only rule you need to follow when creating your container garden is to be creative and enjoy it! At Miracle Farms we generally follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method when planting containers. This concept utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded combinations. Here’s how it works.
thrillers, fillers, spillers
• Thrillers are plants with height that add drama and a vertical element to the combination
• Thrillers can either be flowering or foliage plants or ornamental grasses
• Thrillers are generally put either in the center or at the back of the container
• Place it in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides
• Place it in the back of the container if it will be viewed from only one side
• Some examples are: angelonia, argyranthemum, grasses
Once you’ve chosen your Thriller, next start choosing your Filler varieties
• Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and make the container look full
• Fillers are generally placed in front of, or around, the Thriller variety
• Fillers should be placed midway between the edge of the container and the Thriller variety
• If the Thriller is in the center of the container, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety
• Some examples are euphorbia, calibrachoa, and petunias
• Lastly, you add the Spillers
• Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter
• Spillers are placed close to the edge of the container
• If the container is going to be viewed from all sides, Spillers should be placed on all sides
• If the container is going to be viewed from only one side, Spillers should be placed in the front of the container
• Some examples are bacopa, lobularia, and sweet potato vine
use potting soil rich in organic matter
Feel free to plant containers full. You don’t need to go by the space requirements listed on the plant label because it’s not making a permanent home in your garden. Especially here in New Hampshire where are growing season is rather short, who wants to wait for a container to fill out? However, you will need to make sure you have enough space for the root zones. Use a well-draining, mixed potting soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can fill the container part way with a substitute fill material (we use empty plastic containers) to save on the cost of soil and to make the container lighter and easier to move. Most annuals will do very well with about 12 – 16” of soil. Remember to fertilize once a week as frequent watering of containers results in leaching of nutrients.
What’s on your dinner plate? How about a beautiful Dinner Plate Dahlia! This flamboyant flower grows and flowers best in a well-drained sunny site with warm weather. These bulbs love the warm soil; so don’t rush to put them in the ground until the soil has warmed. These beauties will flower mid-summer and grow to be a whopping 10-12” because of this, we recommend that they have a support system to keep the stalk from snapping or flopping. You can keep these plants happy and healthy by fertilizing them with an organic fertilizer that is made for flowers, we recommend Miracle Grow. If you are hungry for a big beautiful flower, we say you eat up the Dinner Plate Dahlia!! At this point in our Lakes Region summer, many beautiful colors and varieties are available in pots at your local garden center, but don’t let this beauty slip your mind, remember it for next year’s garden. #miraclefarms
Beautiful Dinner Plate Dahlia
The time has arrived here in the Lakes Region where it is important to be on “water watch” with your garden and landscape. New plants benefit most from deep watering that gets down to lower roots as opposed to a “daily spray”. A watering wand or just the hose on low pressure is preferable to the spray nozzle that you use to wash your car. Water early in the morning to give plants time to soak it in. This eliminates evaporation in the heat of the day and helps prevent black spot and powdery mildew that can arise when water sits on the leaves. Water at the base of the plant rather than from above to help with these issues. Mulch is your friend when it comes to watering! It will help to retain moisture in the soil and it’s a great way to cut down on weeds, too. Effective watering practices can make or break everything in your landscape from shrubs to your containers of summer annuals. Protect your investment by being on “water watch” starting today!
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Chances are, the bright and colorful blooms you see in gardens and containers at the moment are mostly annuals. Annuals come in an endless array of colors, sizes, and textures. They play a variety of roles in the garden – in mass plantings, as edging, for cutting, and in containers. The best thing about annuals is that you only have to commit to them for one season. It’s nice to be able to try something new every year in some areas of your garden. One season you might favor bright hot colors and the next, a palette of pastels. It’s nice to have that choice every year. Most annuals require little care aside from watering and an occasional fertilizing and in return you will be rewarded with a season-long display of cheerful color.
Annuals are available for sun or shade and most varieties are remarkably tolerant of varying conditions. They are perfect when strategically placed in perennial gardens giving color when the perennials around them are done blooming. Plant annuals in a container to enjoy portable color on a deck, patio, or porch. With a good potting mix, adequate drainage and correct light conditions, almost anything can become a container.
Petunias are a fail-proof favorite of ours. They are amazingly easy to grow and are gorgeous in mixed plantings or containers. Here in the Lakes Region of NH we often have to consider the deer when choosing plants. Fortunately, there are some annuals that the deer seem to ignore including: nicotiana, heliotrope, cleome, calibrachoa (million bells), among several others. There are plenty of great options to give you a pop of color wherever you need it.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to plant them yourself, Miracle Farms is here to help. Our annuals team is hard at work planting creative containers and colorful beds for many of our clients. Check out some of their work below or visit our “annuals”