Trim and Fertilize Flowers

We have become so used to new flower varieties which remain full and compact, that we forget that some of the older varieties need pruning to keep them from becoming so leggy. Trimming stimulates regrowth at a lower level on the plant. Plants often develop multiple branches which makes them more attractive within a short time. If you have long branches more than a foot long, simply cut them by half with pruning shears or scissors.

Most of us fertilize our plants when we plant them. With short season vegetables that mature in 60 days or less, such as radish, spinach and leaf lettuce, that is probably adequate. Longer season vegetables and flowers need repeat fertilization. Containers need the most frequent fertilization because of lower soil volume and more rapid drainage and evaporation. One of the first signs that plants need additional fertilizer is when lower plant leaves turn yellow.

Osmocote and similar coated, slow release fertilizers are my favorite for containers. They are the longest lasting. General purpose fertilizers such as 16-16-16 work well for flowers and vegetables.

If you are irrigating your lawn, another application of lawn fertilizer will keep it green through the summer. I always recommend lawn fertilizers which contain part of the nitrogen in a coated or slow release form. Organic fertilizers are naturally long lasting.

Reader Tip: I suggested in a previous column using the larger summer squash for zucchini bread. One reader made the following reply: “I make the world’s best zucchini bread and never use zucchini that are large or older.  They are too dry.  I use cucumber size only.”


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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