Midsummer is definitely here in Des Moines. If you’re a heat-lover, this might be your favorite time of year. If you don’t love the hottest days of the year, you might be feeling a little rundown, like some of the annuals in your containers and hanging baskets.
Those beautiful blooming flowers that you bought in the spring are quite likely starting to look a little rough around the edges, blooming less and maybe looking a little tall and spindly. They’re getting a little tired and worse for the wear.
Where is the magic potion that keeps things looking as bright and beautiful as they were when you bought them?
Well, unfortunately, there’s not a magic potion, though there are some helpful potions, and a few tips you can follow to bring those bright blooms back.
To understand how your annuals got to be so beautiful and full of blooms in the spring, it’s helpful to know how annuals are grown and cared for in the nursery.
In the greenhouse, annuals are grown in their ideal conditions, with the perfect temperature, the right humidity, consistent watering, and regular fertilizer. They also get pruned and deadheaded regularly to encourage full and bushy growth.
These ideal conditions give plants a great start towards a healthy season. Once annuals are ready to go home with eager gardeners, they’re strong enough to be hardened off and spend the rest of their season outdoors. Obviously, you can’t recreate those perfect conditions outdoors, since you can’t control the weather.
While it’s true that annuals are fairly tough, and don’t need to be babied to survive our summer weather, they still require a bit of care to look their best all summer long. Here are a couple of tips to freshen up your annuals and get things looking lush and vibrant again.
One of the most common differences between greenhouse care and home care of annuals is the application of fertilizer. In the nursery, plants are given fertilizer on a regular basis to keep them healthy, strong, and full of blooms.
Sometimes annuals get home and don’t get fertilizer ever again. Or they get it once or twice over the summer. Annuals in pots at home need fertilizer just as consistently as baby plants in a nursery. At home, annuals are usually packed into pots quite tightly with other plants to give that overflowing look.
Packed pots create two challenges for plants:
There is not very much soil for all those plants to share, so they use up what nutrients are in the soil very quickly.
Every time we water plants in containers, some nutrients get washed away, so within a few weeks, the soil in your planters may be completely depleted.
This doesn’t mean you should put fewer plants in your planters, or change how you water them. It just means you need to regularly feed your plants with fertilizer to give them those missing nutrients.
Lack of feeding is the #1 reason that most annuals stop blooming and start to look leggy come August. To fix the feeding problem, make sure to fertilize your pots and planters at least once per month, with your favorite water-soluble organic or synthetic fertilizer.
Hanging baskets and small pots should be fertilized every other week due to their pot bound nature.
You can also give them some more consistent nutrient supply throughout the season with slow-release granular fertilizer. Mix it into the soil when you plant all your annuals in the spring and add some more in August.
The second tip for refreshing your annuals is to do a bit of pruning and trimming. Annuals benefit from a midsummer trim. It might seem harsh to cut them back, but it helps to promote new bushier growth and encourage more blooms.
You can safely trim up to an inch or two all-around your annuals, clearing out any dead blossoms along the way. Trimming is a task you can start early in the season, soon after you bring your plants home. A little trimming every week or every other week will keep your annuals thriving and blooming abundantly.
Every year we try to bring in some new and exciting annuals to keep your garden fresh and interesting. This year is no exception! We’ve got some unique and beautiful options this year with beautiful flower colors, striking variegated leaves, and simply unique features. Here are our top new annuals for 2020!
Coleus ‘Splish Splash’
Speckled yellow leaves add a splash to any container! Reaching up to 2′ tall and wide, this colorful Coleus works well as the backdrop of any container arrangement or in the garden. ‘Splish Splash’ is great for part sun to full sun areas.
Coleus ‘Under the Sea Clownfish’
Each leaf on this Coleus offers a trio of colors; lime green, pink, and burgundy. The leaves have a slightly serrated edge, offering a different look compared to other varieties. Not quite as tall as other Coleus, this variety reaches about 1′ tall and wide. It does great in full sun to mostly shade.
Calibrachoa ‘Can Can Bumblebee’
This Calibrachoa has pleasant pink tones with a yellow star in the center. They work well in hanging baskets or the front of containers and prefer full sun to part shade. They grow about 6-7″ tall and wide and blend beautifully with other annuals.
Calibrachoa ‘Neo Double Orangetastic’
This Calibrachoa has ruffled double blooms that are colored a pretty shade of orange with reddish centers. Like other Calibrachoas, this one prefers plenty of sunlight, but it will tolerate a bit of shade. It gets about 6-7″ tall and wide and works well in hanging baskets or as a spiller in container gardens.
Petunia Supercal ‘Carmel’
True yellow petunias are hard to find, but this seems to be the closest to a true yellow variety we’ve ever seen! The yellow trumpets are nicely complemented by darker reddish centers. This petunia truly makes a statement in hanging baskets or containers. Supercal ‘Carmel’ reaches about 12″ tall and wide in sites with full to part sun.
Purslane ‘Rio White’
An all-white single-blooming Purslane variety. These beauties like full hot sun and prefer to be on the dry side, making them much lower-maintenance than other annuals. This blooming groundcover creeps low to the ground, reaching about 8″-10″ wide, but only a few inches in height. Excellent in hanging baskets and as a spiller in containers.
Petunia Supercal ‘Sunray Pink’
Unlike any ordinary Petunia, ‘Sunray Pink’ is an intense shade of neon pink with a yellow throat. A great performer that doesn’t need deadheading. Grows about 1′ tall and wide, and acts as an excellent spiller in containers or hanging baskets. Performs best in full sun to part shade.
A newer Petunia release that is similar to ‘Night Sky,’ this variety offers a white star in the middle and comes in a striking deep red color. ‘Starry Sky Burgundy’ is another low maintenance petunia that doesn’t require deadheading. Reaches about 8′ tall and wide, and works great in full sun to part shade in containers and hanging baskets.
Rex Begonia Vine ‘Cissus Discolor’
This neat plant features striking foliage in a combination of green and silver with purple undersides. ‘Cissus Discolor’ is a vining plant that grows to about 2′ wide, and can be trained to climb up a trellis or left to hang gracefully over the sides of a larger pot. This plant works well in part to full shade.
Thunbergia ‘Tangerine Splice-A-Peel’
This plant is also known as Black-Eyed Susan Vine, but this variety has orange flowers outlined in yellow for a stunning warm combo! The vine can be trained to climb up a small trellis and can also be grown in a hanging basket. It reaches about 2′ wide and works great in full sun to part shade.
Cuphea ‘Starfire Pink’
These tubular flowers are small but bloom in abundance! This Cuphea variety works well as an accent plant in any container or in the garden. It grows to about 8″ tall and 5″ wide. Works great in full to part sun!
Also called Firecracker plant, this Dipcliptera variety has red tubular-shaped flowers that are popular with hummingbirds. This is a larger plant, reaching a mature height of around 2-3′, so it works well in the center of containers or as a backdrop in the garden. It prefers full to part sun.
If you’d like to add any of these awesome new options to your collection, simply head over to our online shop or give us a call for personalized concierge shopping. All of our plants, tools, and gardening supplies are available for delivery in the Des Moines metro area or for curbside pickup!
There never seems to be enough of the summer to go around here in Iowa, and before you know it, July is behind us. If the words “late summer” make you nervous about the season slipping through your hands, you aren’t alone. But don’t worry, there are tons of ways to make sure that your home, garden, and landscape are top performers straight through until fall. Time to make the most out of the final month of summer left!
Replacing Tired Annuals
The annuals that we planted in the spring are sprinters, not marathon runners, and some may be looking a little tired this time of year, dragging down the look and mood of your landscape with them. Once aphids arrive, it could be game over for some of these one-season plants. But this is normal, and your garden and planters still have lots of life left!
Summer annuals, especially the heat-lovers, are built for an explosive display of color and life during the height of our Iowa gardening season, so, understandably, they run out of energy when the nights start to cool off a little. They simply aren’t built to last for a whole season and have trouble adjusting to the cooling late summer weather. The solution is to pull them out entirely and replace them with a selection of late summer annuals that are ready to give your landscape a facelift.
You’ll be surprised how much a splash of fresh-faced color improves the look of your home, and with late summer prices for annuals, it’s very manageable to do. Our favorites are pansies, asters, kale, and sunflowers for a late-season update. Also, late-blooming perennials are a good choice for some August color, as they’ll shine while the rest of the garden is lacking.
Give Your Annuals Some Maintenance:
Sometimes your annuals don’t need to be pulled out entirely, and they look like they could thrive with a second chance. Many times you can revive your annuals in the late summer with some extra care so that they are ready to keep performing all season.
Apply fertilizer, which works best when plants are on the dry side and not waterlogged. Even if there’s been lots of wet weather and moisture, it’s important to try to give your plants some fertilizer to fuel their recovery. If possible, move your containers somewhere with a little more shelter and prune back the plants so that they have room to thrive in the rest of the season. You’ll be amazed at their vibrancy and second round of growth, creating a totally flawless summer look.
Just because the summer is ending soon doesn’t mean that you have to give up your fresh garden vegetables. These cooler Iowa days actually provide the perfect growing conditions for many of your favorite greens. August is the ideal time for growing lettuce, spinach, and even peas, which can withstand a little light frost.
Before you plant, check the information on the seeds to see how long it takes to grow to maturation. You’ll want to select plants that will be ready to eat in 30 to 50 days so that they’ll be ready to eat before the end of the season. Depending on how late in August you start (and how much you like to gamble) you’ll need to adjust your growing times. Thankfully, cooler temperatures and evenings make for crisper, more flavorful food, and growing produce is a great way to insert some life and greenery in your yard, all while receiving a pretty sweet payoff of veggies in return.
The end of summer is the time for the season to start winding down, but there’s no reason for your yard and garden to give up prematurely! By giving your landscape and garden a little pick-me-up in the tail end of the season, you’ll be ready to impress and entertain with a spectacular, thriving garden until the first frost of the season.
Our annual gardens are where the hottest of trends get to shine every year. Many years we have our favorites from seasons past holding over to grace our gardens once again, but the temporary nature of annuals has us excited to try new things each year to capitalize on new trends without any risk!
Our favorite annuals for this year bring the best of color, flair, and enthusiasm to our gardens, and with thrilling plants and flowers like these, how could you not be excited about summer and spending some time in your own yard? Every year it seems like our annuals are bigger, better and more spectacular – and 2019 is no exception. These are our top picks for the most popular and successful annuals this year, ready to be brought home to dazzle your backyard and containers:
Canary Wings Begonia: Begonias are an essential staple in the American garden, but the Canary Wings Begonia brings a uniquely colorful twist to set it apart from the rest. These shade-lovers are a phenomenal way to bring stylish blooms to those darker parts of your yard that might otherwise go uncelebrated, especially with the Canary Wings variation. With this brilliant new variety, you can enjoy golden-chartreuse foliage decorated with pops of crimson flowers, that will truly brighten your shady spots from spring through summer. Plant alone or with other shade lovers in a garden or container for a design that is not only on-trend this summer, but confidently commands attention in your garden design.
Simply chose a location with shade or morning sun and provide well-draining soil to get your begonia off to a great start. For such a complex flower, the Canary Wing Begonia is actually simple to take care of as long as you put in the initial effort to give it the light and drainage it needs.
Sunfinity Sunflowers: There’s something traditional and charming about sunflowers that’s hard to improve upon in the garden – except maybe extending their growing and blooming season so that you have the chance to enjoy their cheerful bright yellow flowers for longer. Sunfinity Sunflowers take the winning formula of our favorite sunflowers and give them to us with a newly improved and extended blooming time in our garden! A charming presence in the backyard and an excellent choice to cut and enjoy indoors, these blooms are a simple joy that doesn’t quit.
Instead of a single flower that’s gone too soon on other sunflowers, enjoy over 100 blooms per plant all summer. These flowers have it all and are extremely low maintenance, so you can just plant them and forget about them – although that will be hard to do with their blooms exploding with enthusiasm all season long. Fit for both containers and gardens, there’s always a way to bring these sunny flowers home to cheer up any garden style and design.
“Tattoo” Series Vinca: This new vinca variation brings the artistry of your garden design to life, with vibrant and intense flowers with stunning petals that look as if they’ve each been hand painted. With new colors, like Black Cherry, Black Coral, and Tangerine, offering top-notch color saturation and style in every bloom, you can take your backyard design from charming to professional with the addition of just one popular Tattoo Vinca variety.
Everything that modern gardens look for, the Tattoo Vinca bring intensity, color, and ease of care to your backyard. Simply pick a location with good sun exposure for the brightest and most vibrant results with a healthy plant that is ready to keep working to impress all season.
Superbells Doublette: The Love Swept Doublette series brings a hint of romance to your yard with cascading calibrachoa blooms in blushing shades of pink with lacy white trim. We’ve come to trust Superbells varieties to bring the best blooms for the longest in our gardens for years now, and we’re very excited about this popular new color that we can add to our annual repertoire.
Wonderful for containers, these stunning flowers will spill out for a cascading effect of delicate but bountiful blooms that require little to no encouragement and minimal maintenance to absolutely thrive in your backyard. Plant by themselves in a container as they often grow so successfully that they overtake any other container mates. Thankfully, their beautiful pink and white tones on dainty flowers contrasted against emerald foliage is all the statement that you need for a single container – giving you all the lush garden style you want for this year.
Salvia Skyscrapers: This beautiful bloom offers a uniquely vertical bloom that adds intrigue, contrast, and something strikingly artistic to your garden design this year. Three colors have been introduced in 2019 to offer beautiful blooms in shades of Dark Purple, Pink, and Orange – each prettier than the last and ready to pair with your current backyard style. With flowers towering like a skyscraper far above their foliage you’ll love the unique look and shape of these flowers that draw the eye to them.
Not only stylish, these flowers are also proven to be quite drought and pest resistant, with easy maintenance to make keeping their blooms around a dream. Blooming from late spring all the way through fall, they are practically tailor-made for our Iowa summer season. Try them as a vertical thriller in your containers or as a background element in your landscaping and add intrigue to your garden design this year.
New annuals are exciting ways to keep your garden up to date on all the newest trends. In addition to following hot styles like color trends (we love the focus on chartreuse and coral that we’re seeing this year), picking up some of the newest and hottest annuals on the market is not only a treat for you with the latest developments in ease of gardening, but a style refresher that makes your garden fashionable and up-to-date.
It’s because of, not in spite of, their short-lived nature that we love annuals as much as we do. Not only do we plant these transient blooms knowing that they will only be with our gardens for a short season or two, but their limited lifespan is part of what enables them to put on the spectacular displays of color we crave. Caring for your annuals properly is the best way to ensure that these plants can shine throughout their short lifetimes, improving the appearance of your garden and giving you that fresh summer vibrancy you’re looking for.
Plan Before You Plant: All the basics you need to know about your annuals are actually printed right on the label. Look to the plant’s packaging when it comes to information on sun exposure, soil type, and water requirements. Use this information to plant your annuals in a place where they will have all the necessary resources to shine. Most annuals prefer 6 hours or more of sun and generous watering schedules, but there are still plenty of exceptions. When you pair the right location, care, and plants together, you’ll have the right recipe for gorgeous blooms that won’t demand as much time for maintenance.
Planting Your Annuals: Start your annuals off right with soil that will support all their growing needs through the season. The right foundation makes all the difference, and with the right nutrients and structure, your annuals can bloom with more enthusiasm and less intervention all season. Better soil is the key to better color and longer-lived flowers all summer.
The easiest fix for your garden is to make sure that you have plenty of organic matter and structure. Rust-colored soils are likely in need of an organic matter boost, while darker soils already have tons of rich nutrients. If you need to boost the organic content of your garden, just mix in compost or worm castings. Heavy clay soils will also benefit from added sand, compost or worm castings to provide better aeration of the soil. If you are planting annuals in containers, use a high quality potting soil, do not use soil from your garden beds. For those that want to get technical with their gardens, test kits are readily available to check the soil pH to match your garden to your plant’s needs.
Planting annuals is very straightforward. Plan out your planting area so that your plants are spaced evenly and have room for their explosive growth pattern. If you are planting bedding plants in your garden, typical spacing is 6” to 12” depending on the growth pattern of plants and varieties. Planning out your garden or container will also give you the chance to change your design once you see the elements together, rather than after you’ve planted. Once you know where your annuals are going, gently remove them from their containers, loosen their roots with your hands, and plant them in place.
Watering and Fertilizing Annuals: If you’ve given your annuals a great start with the right soil nutrients, they won’t need nearly as much fertilizer for the rest of the year. They’ll benefit from being consistently fed a variety of nutrients rather than relying on a quick supply of their key growing ingredients in chemical fertilizers. During the initial planting we also recommend adding Osmocote or another slow release fertilizer to your soil. A slow release fertilizer will help to keep your annuals looking their best all season long. If you’ve planted in a container with less soil to support your plants, or notice your annuals lagging during their growing season, a quick dose of water-soluble fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro, is usually all the help they need to keep looking fabulous.
Since your annuals are tropical plants designed for a single short growing season, they keep their roots close to the surface of the soil. Since they’re so close to the hot sun, they’ll need to be watered every 1-2 days to keep them hydrated enough to fuel top-level performance. The best watering system is something low-profile that focuses on getting the water to the soil where it is needed, instead of sprinkling over the flowers, which can sometimes ruin their petals.
Maintaining Your Annuals: Your annuals grow fast and keeping up with them is the best thing that you can do to keep them looking great every day. The most important maintenance that you can do is keeping up with your deadheading. As soon as you see a bloom starting to wither and die, pinch it right off the plant. Not only does this remove ugly spent blooms for a cleaner aesthetic, but it prevents your annual from spending energy on spent flowers by going into seed. Preventing your plants from seeding will have them blooming for longer – so consistent deadheading will help to extend your annuals’ beauty.
Overwintering Annuals: Despite what’s implied by their name, you might be able to keep some of your annuals for two or three years. While these tender plants don’t stand a chance against our Iowa winters, many annuals can make it to next spring in the comfort of your heated home.
Annuals that can be overwintered well include flowers like geraniums and begonias. Tropical flowering plants like mandevillas and hibiscus also make good candidates. Not every annual is created equal when it comes to overwintering – some are known to take to it very well while others don’t have much energy left in them after an exhausting season. Before committing the time, effort, and space to overwintering your plant, ask one of our garden experts if it’s a good fit to keep for another season.
Annuals are sensitive and need to be eased into indoor life, or the shock might put an end to your plan to keep your plant around. First, dig them up and re-pot them into large containers full of fresh (from the bag, so it’s guaranteed sterile) and nutrient-rich soil. Keep your repotted plant in a sunny spot and gradually introduce them to being inside over a few weeks as they acclimate. Try bringing them in for a few hours or overnight first before you try keeping them indoors for longer stretches, eventually moving them inside for the season.
By the time the spring temperatures melt away the winter, you can slowly reintroduce your annual to the outdoors before planting them again.
Some of most difficult spots to fill in your garden are those that are shaded – but they don’t have to be. Many of the most popular classics that we love to fill up our yard with are sun-loving blooms, but there are just as many beautiful plants that thrive with a little more protection from the sun’s rays. Whether you’re looking for some fabulous foliage to fill up a sheltered spot beside the house or you’re trying to find a splash of color to plant in a darker area in your yard, there are lots of options to make every part of your yard and garden lush and beautiful.
Although there are just as many options, shade loving plants enjoy different conditions and as a result, play by some different rules than their relatives that love to soak up the rays. Here’s some advice from our plant and landscaping experts on filling your garden’s shaded areas with color.
Ted Lare Tips for Growing in Shade: Shade-loving plants will have a few different things to keep in mind when growing than plants that prefer to bask in the sun. No matter what type of shade growing plant you choose, keep these things in mind to make your shady spot the best fit for your plants as possible:
Identify Your Shade Type – Each shady location is just as unique as the rest of your yard and home. To pick the best plants, you’ll want to know the conditions of your chosen spot. Types of shade range from deep, to partial, to dappled shade. While the deep shade areas get no direct sunlight at all, less shaded locations could have sun for part of the day or filtered through leaves. There are plenty of options of plants that will thrive in each type, but pairing them up well with the right conditions is the best way to have low-maintenance and beautiful plants.
Soil Type and Quality – Taking note of your soil type before you plant gives you the opportunity to amend the soil quality. Soil ideally has nutrients and structure to support your plants as they develop and grow, giving them the foundation that they need to thrive and grow beautifully. Here are some amendments to consider to modify your soil:
Add organic fertilizer – Adding compost is the perfect way to add nutrients to support the long-term growth of your plant. While you can always use chemical fertilizers after the plant is established to give them a boost, starting with some organic nutrients will give your plant the long-term fuel it needs to continue to thrive. Typically, just adding a inch or two of compost goes a long way, then till the new compost into the soil before planting.
Making Room for Roots – Aerate the soil with a pitchfork before planting to help make the air pockets that your plant will need to grow root systems. A good foundation is important for shade-loving plants especially to find nutrients and water.
Mulch Well – After you plant, use mulch to help lock moisture into the soil. Shade from the sun often means shade from other elements like rain, meaning that keeping water near the roots is vital for shaded plants. Mulching to a thickness of about 3 inches is usually sufficient to protect the roots of your plants.
Popular Perennial Flowers for the Shade: There are hundreds of popular perennials to choose for that shady spot in your yard. These are some of our favorite popular choices for the shade that will keep returning to thrive each year:
Hostas – An elegant classic that has graced protected corners of backyards for decades, and for good reason. These plants come in many varieties that boast different shades and shapes, but they all provide gorgeous ground cover in shaded and partially shaded locations. Hosta are still the tried and true plant for dense shady areas.
Christmas Fern – Ferns have a delicate style that catches the eye and captures the imagination. Not only good ground cover, these plants offer some drama and a little bit of texture and height to a shady spot in your garden. Christmas Fern is a quick grower that will easily take up whatever shaded spot you have in mind for it, but isn’t invasive and is easy to control with just a little trimming.
Bleeding Hearts – A beautiful and traditional shade decoration, bleeding hearts have delicate pink flowers that are their namesake, adding a pop of color to shady areas. This classic flower is long-lived, mild-mannered, and will fit in well with other shade loving perennials.
Ligularia Dentata – These attractive annuals have fun lily pad-shaped leaves that can vary in color and provide contrast to other plant foliage. During the summer, they burst to life with a yellow flower display. Ligularia Dentata are usually vibrant growers, but they can lay down during hot summer days.
Astilbe – Astilbes give great height to flower beds and come in a wide range of shades. For shady spots, we recommend the ‘Maggie Daley’ variety. Maggie Daley shows off stunning feathery magenta blooms during the summer. This variety also has a reputation for good performance.
Shade Loving Shrubs: Shrubs are great options for filling large empty spaces and adding structure to your overall garden design. These shrubs thrive in shady patches.
Hydrangeas – Hydrangeas often become the crown jewel of any garden, making it clear that plants in the shady parts of your yard can also be in the spotlight. We love how vibrant and how much life a hydrangea shrub can pack into a spot in the shade, and find them the ideal choice for lining the shaded spots along fences or walls. Our favorite varieties for shade include Little Lime, Mystical Flame, Quickfire, and Endless Summer.
Japanese Yew – These evergreen shrubs have great texture and look a little more interesting than other shade-loving foliage plants. The Everlow variety keeps a low-profile and looks fantastic
Rhododendron – Rhododendrons add an elegant shape and gorgeous pink flowers to your shade garden. Our favorite varieties are the Korean rhododendron and PJM rhododendron.
Azaleas – Like rhododendrons, the shape of azalea shrubs look magnificent in shade gardens, with bold blooms in some lovely jewel tones. Try the deep fuschia Orchid Lights variety, the hot pink Northern Lights variety, or vibrant orange Mandarin Lights variety.
Shade Loving Annuals: Annuals lack the lifespan of perennials, but they pack a lot of enthusiasm, color, and life into the one season that they do have. While some of our favorite annuals love to bask in the sun, there is no shortage of popular options that will thrive with a little less exposure.
Begonias – With shiny foliage and beautiful cheerful flowers available in every shade of the rainbow, there’s a Begonia out there for any landscape style and taste. Most begonias thrive in full or part shade, offering pretty colors to most sheltered corners of your yard.
Lobelia – These plants are dainty and delicate that have delightfully cheerful pastel colors that thrive in partial shade. Offering great ground cover, this is a great way to have some beautiful color over every inch of your yard.
Impatiens – These multi-colored annuals are the gorgeous poster children for shady locations. While they have a “wildflower” look that adds some whimsy to your garden, filling up shady or partially shady spots with beautiful color.
Sweet Alyssum – These dainty white flowers bloom for the whole summer season, offering a unique and intoxicating fragrance, even into the cooler temperatures of fall.
Bulbs in the Shade: The classic option for those that want stunning flowers but like the “plant it and forget about it” method, there are many bulbs that will thrive in the shade. Many of these flowers create a natural focal point in your garden, despite being in the shade.
Crocus – Crocus are an always-elegant option that offer a classic late spring look. Try them in delightful shades of white, purple, and yellow.
Galanthus – Also known as Snowdrops, these white flowers stand out against their shady home and offer color surprisingly early in the season.
Daffodils – If you’re looking to brighten up the shaded spots in your garden, these flower’s signature yellow flowers add a little splash of sunshine where there is none.
Tulips – For a classic springtime look, there’s nothing that impresses quite like the tulip. Adaptable and able to bloom nearly anywhere from full shade to partial sun, they offer a truly stunning array of colorful options and styles.
The sun-filled spots in your yard and garden don’t have to be the constant spotlight of your landscape and garden design. With so many different varieties of shade-loving plants to choose from, the lighting conditions don’t have to limit your options and design for your outdoor space. With shade loving plants this stunning, there are options for everyone to enjoy that are the right fit for their home, lifestyle, and landscape design.
If you’re looking for more guidance on planting a shade-friendly garden, visit our garden center, just 10 minutes South of West Des Moines.
“Eating greens is a special treat, it makes long ears and great big feet.” – Bambi
Few things in nature are as elegant and interesting as deer, and spotting one can often be quite exciting – except, however, when you spot them grazing on your gorgeous garden. As beautiful as they are, deer can be an incredible nuisance in our yards, as they trample through and chew our precious plants to pieces.
Why Deer Love Our Gardens:
Deer are natural grazers and love eating plants for their thirst-quenching moisture content and nutritional benefits. They particularly love to munch away in the spring with new growth looking tastiest after the long winter. Particular plants that deer love to snack on include tulips, pansies, dogwood, and roses. They also enjoy english ivy, yew, pine, and hostas, as well as most fruits and vegetables. When many of these tasty treats are packaged nicely together in one area, like in our gardens, it only makes sense that they would keep coming back day after day.
Deer-Proofing Your Yard:
To continue enjoying your garden beauties without worrying about deer damage, you’ll need to protect your yard against these plant predators.
Fences and Hedges:
When it comes to keeping animals out of our yards, it can be easy to convince ourselves that a fence will solve all our issues but deer are known for their expert jumping skills. While it’s true that they have been known to jump as high as 7 feet in a single bound, we’ve found from experience that deer are more likely to choose the path of least resistance, so a 6-foot fence will usually be enough. A less obstructive solution could be to, instead, add a hedge around your yard, as a natural barrier. Boxwood is an excellent choice for a deer-repelling hedge, as it’s not only beautifully bright, but also deer-resistant, as well.
Much like the sprays you can buy to ward off insects, there are repellents that can be purchased to ward off deer, as well. Scent-targeting repellents use powerful smells to confuse the deer’s sense of smell from detecting the treats they love. Typically they tend to contain quite potent smells, like fermented eggs, garlic, and soap. They may also contain natural scents from their predators.
Taste-targeting repellents work to change the flavor of the plants, so they aren’t as appetizing to the deer. They are usually based with spicy peppers or other unsavory flavors, so they are best used on plants you won’t be enjoying on your plate.
These sprays will usually need to be applied 1-2 times per month, depending on rainfall and are best applied early in the season before the deer have had a chance to sample your garden. We also typically recommend rotating repellents occasionally for most effective results.
While no plants are truly deer-proof, there are plenty of plants that deer tend to avoid due to smell, taste, or even toxicity. With even a couple of these deer resistant plants in your landscape, your yard quickly becomes less appealing to these curious critters.
While we may enjoy spotting them grazing in a field out in nature, our gardens are the last place we want to find deer. With these tips and tricks for deer-proofing your yard, though, you won’t have to worry about losing another plant to these majestic mammals.
To view our selection of deer-repelling plants and products, or for more information, visit us in store today or check out our informational sheet on deer-proofing here.
A little pruning now and then keeps it healthy, but you shouldn’t pull it out and chop the roots up.“ – Len Goodman
Some of us feel a little timid when it comes to trimming back our beloved annuals. These bold bloomers captivate our hearts and backyards in their precious, short growing season and we can be nervous to start cutting away their blossoms. It’s time to be brave and grab the trimmers, though, because cutting back your annuals will rejuvenate them for the end of the growing season, boasting bigger, better, and healthier growth into the fall.
Once summer has embraced its best months and we start thinking about the fall and back-to-school season just around the corner, our star annuals that were lush and dense with vibrant color might be looking a little lackluster, despite some of our best efforts. A well-timed pruning can actually give them a second life by trimming the dead weight! Don’t spare the scissors, because they can give your favorite flowers new life to last longer in their prime right into fall:
Pictured below: Petunias
Reason 1: Some of Your Plants Can’t Take the Heat:
When we walk into a garden center to pick out our favorite blooms, we tend to fall in love with the look of our plants first. But a garden center is a bit like the United Nations of plants – something from the depths of the Amazon jungle might be on the shelf beside a desert dweller.
Your petunias are from South America, while Chrysanthemums come from China, and Rosemary originates from Mediterranean countries, like Italy. While they all come from different homelands, we adopt them here in Iowa and group them together in our own container designs. They might survive next to each other in a container, but some plants have some very different needs from each other.
Pictured below: Alyssum
While you’ve probably taken into account the most extreme needs when planting, once the season is in full swing the smaller differences become much more apparent. Annuals from temperate climates will thrive in the cooler nights of spring and fall while folding under the heat of July and August. Classics like Pansies and Violas, Osteospermum, Geraniums, Nemesia, Alyssum, and Snapdragons love cool temperatures and might not be looking their best by this point in the summer.
Once they start to struggle in the heat, they’ll benefit from a generous haircut and some fertilization. Your heat-lovers will be free to put on the best show they can in the rest of the hottest summer days, while the summer pruning will set up your cool-temperature plants to perform again as the days cool into fall. Without this trimming, they’d be too exhausted to even make an attempt at reviving in the fall. By pruning now, you invest in better color, later into the season. Your garden could still bloom with enthusiasm after your heat-lovers finish their season.
In the gardens of our childhood, your local garden center might have offered a maximum of 12 different annuals, known then as “bedding plants”. From those 12, you would make your selections, plant your annuals, and wait for them to bloom. It was formulaic, it was predictable, and it was easy to follow without negotiating different types of flowers, growing habits, and needs. In exchange for all the choice we get to explore and be creative with now, we have to be a bit more involved in our gardens.
With a wider selection of plants to choose from to fit our every need, we have more variables to balance. In creating our perfect aesthetic, we keep in mind how aggressive our plants are or how much water they need to pair plants successfully. Sometimes our “perfect look” calls for pairing some mismatch plants, like meeker and slower growing Marigolds or Snapdragons with much more aggressive Verbenas or Petunias. This doesn’t have to rule out matching them though, you’ll just need to keep your trimmers ready to save your passive plants from getting consumed by the stronger growers. Trimming back and taming your annuals opens up new pairing possibilities to create a container that is absolutely perfect.
Reason 3: Get A Response:
Pruning your plants gets them angry and ready to grow back with more conviction and a vengeance. Your annuals are like a champion boxer – they more you try to knock them down, the tougher they get. If you trim off a quarter of their growth a couple times a year, they come back bigger, stronger, better, and more gorgeous. You get to trim off any unsightly dead growth, only to be rewarded by even more stunning growth! This method works best on plants like Petunias, Pansies, Calibrachoas (Million Bells), Bacopas, and most foliage container plants.
Simply pinch back the foliage and give them a healthy dose of fertilizer to fuel their comeback growth. Check back in a week and you’ll be delighted to see that your plant making a comeback filled with stubborn growth and blooms.
Pictured below: Snapdragons
Keep in mind that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all-annuals method, as some won’t respond well to being hacked back. Anything with a central blooming stem (like Canna Lilies, Snapdragons, Begonias, or Marigolds) won’t make a comeback in the same way or nearly as quickly. Don’t let them go to seed, as they’ll stop blooming, but don’t be quite as aggressive with the scissors on these plants. They still need your guidance and some trimming to be egged on to keep growing and blooming for our enjoyment, just in a gentler sense.
We can sometimes be a little nervous to take a generous snip off of the gorgeous annuals we’ve adored watching bloom all summer. Just as our kids need haircuts before schools reopen in the fall, a haircut is often exactly what our favorite hard-working plants need to come back stronger. Taking charge of your garden with scissors in hand is all you need for gorgeous blooms all summer and long into the fall.
Every year we fall in love with new types of annuals in stunning new shades, shapes and sizes. While there’s a lot to be said about playing with something new in the garden, there are a lot of reasons why we never quite move on from the classics.
Coneflowers are the ultimate statement in simple beauty and elegance. We’re always enchanted looking at these confident and colorful blooms. They’re a great choice for any garden, pairing the beauty of traditional flowers with the color choice of modern annuals. These perennials are hardy, stunning, and easy to grow, all while attracting the right kinds of pollinator traffic to your garden.
Coneflowers are also commonly known as Echinacea, the terms being interchangeable as “Echinacea” is the scientific genus for this type of bloom. Whichever term you use, every variety of this flower is noted for its distinctive shape: a prominent seed head is the centerpiece that a ring of delicate blooms fan away from, angled gently towards the ground. Their cascade of petals in a cone shape is eye-catching and unique in any garden.
While purple coneflower is the traditional favorite, new variations are constantly available, offering the same elegance in new shades and varieties. Each new type captures the elegance that we depend on from echinacea, but the exciting new colors and styles offer us fresh flowers to take on supporting or leading roles in any garden. From exciting and fiery double-petaled divas to dainty and understated whites and purples, there’s a coneflower for any garden aesthetic. No matter the variety, these flowers seem to capture a simpler time. Including them in your garden is an easy way to transform your backyard into an elegant country cottage sanctuary, or even add a touch of nostalgia in a garden bursting with contemporary color.
Coneflowers in Iowa
While their blooms might look dainty and delicate, these flowers are anything but. Their heavy seed heads and petals are supported on tough stems that can usually grow very successfully with limited supervision.
Coneflowers are also a famous Iowa native, meaning they won’t need extra pampering to withstand everything our summer weather might throw at them. These perennials will bloom mid-summer, year after year, without you working hard to help them survive drought or heat conditions. Echinaceas are a perfect balance between pretty and practical to give you a gorgeous garden aesthetic while saving you most of the back-breaking work.
These perennials can be started from root division in the fall, but the most popular way to introduce them is by starter plant in the spring. They are easy plants to care for that will reward you with abundant blooms every year.
Planting: Choose a location for your coneflowers that will receive lots of sun. While full sun is ideal for these flowers, they can tolerate some shade as long as they see direct sunlight for about 6 hours every day. They’ll grow best in soil that has good drainage but will benefit from having a little bit of compost mixed in before planting to nurture them as they grow.
Care: Coneflowers won’t need any supplemental watering if they see average rainfall, but will need a drink weekly to keep them looking their best in droughts. Echinaceas are extremely tough and can handle dry conditions, but a layer of mulch around them will do wonders to lock in the little moisture that they need, especially on hot summer days. Although a little fertilizing won’t hurt your echinacea, they usually don’t need the extra help to thrive in their home soils.
Maintenance: You can expect to see lots of coneflower blossoms in the middle of summer. Prolong their blooming season as long as you can by deadheading the blooms. Near the end of the season, though, leave the last seed heads on your flowers to dry and attract songbirds. If your flowers are looking floppy on weak stems, or are fading in the late summer season, cut the blooms to the ground instead of deadheading or cut back the plant by a third to revitalize it when it grows back.
Coneflowers are garden powerhouses that provide a long list of aesthetic and practical benefits to your garden. These classic beauties are the perfect choice for any garden, fitting seamlessly into your design while beautifying their surroundings. Incredibly simple to grow, these gorgeous perennial blooms are a gift to you and your garden, year after year.
“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.” – John Ruskin
Spring has finally started to show its face with confidence, and many of us are excited and ready to get busy in our gardens. We’ve been impatient for warmer air and new growth and now that the season is here, we’re thrilled to see what 2018 has to offer.
The top new annuals this year are worth the wait. With brighter colors and lots of style and attitude, these are some of the best annuals we have seen to date. The leaders of 2018’s trends range from pink to yellow, but this year’s trends are all ready to steal your heart – and steal the show in your containers and garden.
“Sky Pink” Petunia
Looking up at the fresh skies of spring, most of us expect to see various shades of dazzling blue. Intense hues of pink, however, are typically reserved for sunsets and rainbows. Staying true to its name, the “Sky Pink” Petunia is a performer that is ready to amaze. In 2017, many of us saw the exciting beginning to the beautiful “Sky” series, and were captured by the stylish mysticism of the “Night Sky Blue”. The line continues this year with the unbelievable “Sky Pink”, the most striking way to keep your garden style up to date.
These petunias are both vibrant and versatile. “Sky Pink” is a fair size, standing at 1’ tall and with a 2’ spread. They’ll be the perfect fit for a container or hanging basket so they have all the space they need to spill over the sides in a cascade of color. Keep in mind as you select your container and location that you petunias will need shelter from winds. You’ll have the best-looking petunias when they are planted with southern exposure and some wind protection.
Each of these flower’s spots are as unique as a snowflake, so we recommend that this annual be planted on its own to really show it off. With its bright color and unique markings, a container featuring only the “Sky Pink” will have more impact than trying to showcase them in a crowd of other plants. If you choose to plant these petunias with something else, choose plants that that accentuate their personality. A tall magenta grass could give these prima donnas all the space they need to dazzle.
“Sky Pink” is an aggressive growing annual and is very hungry as a result. Add a slow-release mix when you plant if the pellets are not already in the soil. Follow up with weekly fertilization with an all-purpose with a high middle number for stunning blooms all season.
Just as sensational as the famous dance, “Can-Can Bumblebees” are a thrilling showcase of color. They’re a mix of everything at once: they have a star, and eye, and tricolor. This aggressive, sunbathing beauty is the perfect choice as the centerpiece in a container or hanging basket. We suggest pairing this showstopper with complimenting colors or textures. Choose pinks and yellows or tall grasses to highlight the best of this flower. Purples will create a contrast that is sure to make your “Can-Can Bumblebees” the center of attention.
“Can-Can’s” are an aggressive grower that will blend well with other sun-loving annuals. Avoid pairing it with older annual varieties, since they may not be able to compete and could be overpowered. This Calibrachoa forms a shapely bell and will spill blooms out of your container, so it will need partnering plants that can keep up with them.
Unlike petunias, these flowers still perform well under harsh weather conditions. They will be a great pick for a windy spot, so long as they regularly get enough iron. Feed your “Can-Can Bumblebee” with a high last number all-purpose fertilizer and it will be easy to keep these flowers in tip-top shape this season.
Including these fashionable blooms in your garden is a great way to command attention all summer.
“Mistral Yellow” Begonia:
Begonias might have an unfair reputation as boring plants for stuffy gardeners. The new varieties of Begonia boliviensis make a compelling case that these tropical plants are on-trend and ready to amaze.
The “Mistral” series aims to impress with a couple of heavy hitters that put them on everyone’s radar this season. The blooms of these flowers play the strategic long-game in your gardens. Tiny individual blooms number in the hundreds and spill over your container’s sides to create an enticing bubble bath of dainty flowers.
This newest variety is a beautiful yellow that is as bright as sunshine. In contrast to their dark and variegated leaves, these flowers are vibrant enough to be planted alone.
“Mistral Yellow” may be small in stature, only standing a few inches high, but don’t let that fool you. These plants are aggressive growers and, given a shaded and sheltered spot, will spill out of your container in generous heaps. A container or hanging basket would be the ideal choice to promote this gorgeous cascading effect and keep the begonia’s roots warm. Placing your “Mistral Yellow” in a location with east or north exposure will give the best results.
A bit of air circulation is the key to success with this variety. Allow the soil to dry slightly between watering, and feed weekly or bi-weekly with an all-purpose mix for a healthy plant that is ready to impress.
Ted Lare Design Build specializes in Des Moines Landscaping Design and Installation.
We cover a wide range of Central Iowa. We have installed landscapes for many years in all areas of the Des Moines metro, including West Des Moines, Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, Indianola, and Norwalk.