Annual and Perennial Blooms, Cut Flower Gardens, and Foam Flower [audio]

Emma and Nate talk flower gardening, from design to selection to care and maintenance, with proven tips and solutions for bringing your yard and gardens to life.
beautiful flower garden

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SHOW NOTES

While we often focus on growing fruits and vegetables, flower gardening brings unmatched beauty and life to any yard and is a lifelong passion for many gardeners. It can also be overwhelming: which flowers go together, what should I choose, how to stop weeds. Growing beautiful flower gardens brings its own challenges while offering endless opportunities for your personality and creativity to shine. 

In this episode of Granite State Gardening, UNH Extension’s Emma Erler and Nate Bernitz share proven tips and solutions for creating and maintaining vibrant ornamental flower gardens. We hope you’ll take away new ideas, inspiration and techniques that you can use this year and for years to come. And if you’re so inclined, send us photos of your flower gardens looking their best to gsg.pod@unh.edu.

·         Featured Question: Cut Flower Gardens

·         Featured Plant: Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Resources:

UNH Extension resources on growing annuals and perennials: https://extension.unh.edu/tags/annual-perennial-gardens

Upcoming yard and garden events: https://extension.unh.edu/home-garden-events

Connect with us at @askunhextension on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and subscribe to the monthly Granite State Gardening newsletter.

Email us questions, suggestions and feedback (and photos from your garden 

Transcript by Otter.ai

Nate Bernitz  0:00  
Welcome to the Granite State Gardening podcast produced by UNH Cooperative Extension. Today we're getting back to growing plants but switching gears from veggies to flowers. We're bringing in a number of audience questions for this episode and we'll cover garden design, plant selection, planting, care and maintenance and even a bit on pests and diseases. I won't make you aster twice. So whether you're listening from the garden or on the grow, let's rose to the occasion and dig into it.

Greetings Granite State gardeners. I'm Nate Bernitz joined as always by horticulturist and UNH extension field specialist Emma Erler. I've promised our listeners a wide ranging conversation on all things flower gardening, Emma, but can you break that down into its parts? And no, I don't mean a lesson on flower anatomy. As enticing as that sounds, but rather on distinctions between annuals, perennials, and whatever differentiators you think are important to cover at the top. 

Emma Erler  1:08  
An annual plant is technically a plant that goes from seed to flower to seed in a single season. So basically, it completes its lifecycle in just a few short months, and then is killed by the first frost or by the winter. That being said, there are an awful lot of plants that we call annuals that would technically live for years and years and years if our climate was a bit warmer. Things like dahlias, or canna, or even lantana they can live for season upon season if it was just a little bit warmer here. But those plants will only will grow during the summer months unless we bring them inside in our climate. A perennial plant is something that lives for three or more years. So we usually use the word perennial talk about herbaceous things in the garden. So ornamental grasses, shade plants, sun plants, but technically a perennial could be a tree or shrub too, because trees or shrubs live, typically if they're healthy for three or more years. But for our purposes, we're going to talk about that herbaceous flowering layer in the garden. And one other type of plant that he didn't mention is a biennial. And that's a plant that grows leaves in the first year, typically in a basal roset. So leaves that are just held closely to the ground really enough, you know, world pattern. And then in the second year, after it's gone through a winter, puts on flowers, there are definitely a few plants in the garden, that are biennials, but there's an awful lot more that that fit under the category of perennial or annual. 

Nate Bernitz  2:42  
Okay, so as always, it's just a little bit more complicated than that initial framing. But I think that's going to be really important as we go through this conversation. So stepping back from those particulars to design, I was wondering how you think of sustainable garden design, overall, kind of that big picture, what are the primary considerations you have?

Emma Erler  3:07  
One of the first things I think about is sustainability, from the point of maintenance, it's easy to get really excited about the garden, in the first season or two. But, you know, a lot of these spaces aren't always kept up. So having a realistic idea of how much time you're going to be able to put into maintenance of this space is really important before you spend a lot of money or choose plants that that need a whole lot of care, in order to, you know, keep them healthy, or keep them going through the winter space, you know, also needs to serve a certain function too. So for a lot of people that might mean, helping out wildlife helping out pollinators could mean just making an area more beautiful. Which of course, you know, when we're talking about design, we are typically designing for beauty. So you want that space to actually be attractive. And you want to be able to, you know, have your garden be functional and that you can you can move about it easily, that there's good access to water that you can get to the compost easily that it's easy enough to mow I think a lot of times what happens is we end up with these very narrow pathways through garden beds that end up becoming a nightmare to try to mow. So thinking about how we're going to maintain those things, how we're going to actually make them functional. And then of course, I'm always thinking about how to make a design, certainly more environmentally friendly, if we can. So that might mean choosing things that are more drought tolerant, let's say or really well adapted to the climate or the growing conditions where I'm putting that plant and then there are also some other considerations of course, too when it comes to you know, actually selecting plants for the landscape. One thing that I think is really important to do is to group plants together, meaning plants that are the same species or variety together, most designers will say they should be, they should be grouped in odd numbers, so 3, 5, 7, etc. By putting a bunch of the same species of plant together and in more of a mass, it does give the garden more of a natural look and will make the landscape just more attractive, more cohesive, as opposed to buying one of everything and putting those all in together. 

Nate Bernitz  5:28  
Yeah, those are all great points. Some things that come to mind for me additionally, really come down to our use preferences. So for one thing, some people are going to prefer a more naturalized garden and other people are looking for a more manicured look, I think both can be great. But that's, that's important. I think if you have pets have kids, or have special uses for that garden space, like it's it's really for the wildlife or for pollinators. Or maybe it's for cut flowers, what whatever you're trying to do with that garden might impact might impact how you design it. 

Emma Erler  6:08  
Oh, totally. Yeah, you have to keep all of those things in mind, designing your garden can be probably one of the most fun things that you do. And it also be very expensive. So you know, have a clear budget in mind from the start to and do what you can to stay within that. Yeah, and depending on where your garden is, is probably going to impact how tall you want your tallest plants in the garden to get. Usually, most people if this is if this is a bed that's right next to your home and you have a bunch of windows on the ground floor of your house, you probably don't want a whole bunch of perennials, let's say that grow over five feet tall. And it's just not going to work for that location. Or you know the front of a border, you probably want things that are shorter that should be considered tos. Just like with trees and shrubs, where you should be paying attention to the mature size of the plant, you should be doing the same with any annual or perennial that you think about putting into a garden space. 

Nate Bernitz  7:04  
So many considerations, we could talk about this at length. Shifting into selecting individual plants for your garden. One consideration for me is, seeds are a lot less expensive than buying plants that are already grown out at the garden center and nursery. And not only are they less expensive, but I also get more selection. But planting from seeds comes with some complications, right? What are the considerations for potentially growing some of your annuals and perennials from seed? 

Emma Erler  7:35  
growing annuals from seed is pretty easy, because these are plants that grow really quickly. Typically, once we have that, that warm weather, they're going to grow really, really fast. So you're going to, you know, have something that looks really nice within just a few short weeks or months. With perennials, it takes a lot more time. So if you're looking to get a nursery size plant, you're probably going to have to wait at least three years. So bigger time investment to start with, it's also going to take a fair amount of labor to to grow perennials out, you may have to transplant a few times, you're going to have to have some sort of nursery or growing area. Something else to keep in mind with perennial flowers in particular said a lot of them do require some sort of cold, damp period or stratification in order to germinate at the best possible rate these plants, especially you know temperate perennials, they adapted in cooler environments where the seeds would have been formed in the summer, they would have fallen and then that plant the seed anyways has a dormancy mechanism to keep it from trying to germinate during the middle of the winter, when growing conditions aren't optimal for many, many flowers, you do have to kind of replicate that winter. If you're trying to start these indoors from seed that could mean keeping the seed for a certain amount of time in the refrigerator. If you don't want to go through all that, then you could try direct sowing some of the perennial seeds. And that could mean sowing in the late fall, which is always what we recommend for putting in wildflower meadows. Or you can potentially even be sowing some of those seeds over the winter. But regardless, you're going to have a few years to wait before you'll see anything that that really resembles you know much in the garden you have to have a lot more patience that way. And also some of the some of our favorite perennials just don't propagate all that well from seed and if you're trying to grow a specific variety, you're probably not going to be able to grow it from seed. So let's say for example that you really like variegated hostas, well, you're actually going to have to get a cutting of that hosta you're not going to be able to grow it from seed. So wild flowers are native plants. Sure, you can grow those from seed with a lot of the other introductions, you're probably going to be better off buying a mature plant or getting a cutting from a friend 

Nate Bernitz  10:04  
That is really fascinating. But regardless of whether you ultimately choose or can grow something from seed, or you're planning on buying it from your local garden center or nursery, there are a variety of considerations, not only are you going to consider what is visually appealing, like, of course, anyone can go around the garden center and point at this or that and say, Oh, I love that. I don't like that. But what are some other considerations you have as, as a smart savvy gardener shopper, you know, when you're looking at those tags, or just generally considering whether you'd like to introduce something into your garden?

Emma Erler  10:44  
Well, first things first, think it makes sense to take stock of what the site conditions are like in your garden. So have an idea of what the soil is like, you know, is it is it sandy? Is it lomey? Is it you know, it does have more of a clay component, know how it drains. So is it an area where water tends to puddle after a rainstorm? Or does that water leach away really quickly, this is going to be incredibly important because some plants are super super, you know, drought tolerant, we'll take a sandy soil or actually prefer it, whereas many others really need some consistent moisture to the soil. Sun is also something you need to pay attention to. So particularly if you're in a new spot, spend some time you know in your yard, seeing when the sun first reaches a particular spot where you have your garden in the morning, see if it's shaded by anything throughout the day, and just get a general sense of how much direct sun that spots getting to grow have a son perennial, he probably need at least six to eight hours of direct sun a day. If you have less than that, then you might be looking at something that takes part sun part shade. And if the areas pretty much entirely shaded the whole day with maybe just a few hours of direct sunlight, then you're definitely considering shade perennials. So have those things in mind. And of course, you know, it's it's, I think, useful to to know what your hardiness zone is, if you're going to the local garden center, most of the plants, they're probably going to be appropriate for your garden. But you know, there's always a few things there for folks who want to push the limits, or who have, you know, just a little microclimate that might be a little bit warmer than is typical in New Hampshire. So get a sense of that. If you live really in the southern half of New Hampshire, you're probably in zone five over by the coast, might be getting closer to zone six and up north, you can probably assume zone four. And if you want a plant to really make sure it's not going to be killed by the winter, be more conservative. So if you're in zone five, you should know that zone three or zone four plants should be totally fine in your area. 

Nate Bernitz  13:09  
Yeah, so a lot of considerations sounds like maybe too much to consider when you're going to the garden center without any kind of plans. You really want to be going there with some intentions with a shopping list. Yeah, same thing when I go grocery shopping, if I don't have a shopping list, coming home with a lot of stuff I didn't need. forgetting what I did need. Yeah. So so we're taking that same smart approach to shopping for plants? I guess I was wondering, and this may just totally be a matter of personal preference. But do any plants go together really well or not go together? Like Are there any sort of oil and water situations with plants? That boy, just don't don't try that. How do you think about that? 

Emma Erler  13:55  
I mean, the the first way I could approach that is thinking about what the actual growing conditions are that plant requires. So in many cases, a plant that really prefers shade is just not going to be a good fit next to a full sun perennial. So let's say a dark leaved hosta in full sun is going to be miserable unless it's in a super, super consistently moist soil at all times. If you're trying so you wouldn't, let's say be mixing that with. I don't know, let's see a bee balm that really loves full full sun. In terms of design, you know that that's a different question. Right? So some people have, you know, might think that things that are let's say chartreuse and red go really, really nicely together. Me, not so much. I don't really like those lime greens and reds are burgundy's right next to each other. In terms of you know what plants, you know, like they're really So, you know, I'm not really aware of companion planting with with perennial gardening or anything like that. Really, if you want to have the most success, just make sure that you're matching plants based on their needs to, you know, what you have, what the conditions are in your own garden. 

Nate Bernitz  15:18  
And I guess it's probably useful to consider growth habits. 

Emma Erler  15:21  
of course, yeah, that can definitely be important to pay attention to knowing whether something is is creeping, sprawling, whether it's, you know, very strongly upright. Knowing to whether something spreads by rhizomes can be important. A lot of the plants that spread by their root systems are spread by underground rhizomes, which are technically underground stems are going to be pretty aggressive in the garden. So things that are in the mint family, tend to be very aggressive and need to be divided frequently, in order to keep them under control. think that that monarda, that bee balm that I mentioned before or ground cover like ajuga, they're going to spread all over the place unless you're trying to keep them under control. So if you're looking for a real formal look to your garden, you're probably trying to avoid a lot of these things that that creep by their by their rhizomes. 

Nate Bernitz  16:17  
So in theory, would you want to pair aggressive plants together or keep them away from each other and have aggressive plants that spread a lot, maybe with plants that don't? 

Emma Erler  16:27  
I'm often thinking of it more as just kind of like a design considerations. So I think a lot of those, well, aggressive plants can be great as ground covers. Or if you want to have them in the perennial border, I think they work better and informal designs. So let's say more of a cottage garden sort of vibe, where it's okay, if things ramble a bit, do their own thing, having some things that are maybe a little bit more aggressive and content with each other is helpful. But you're probably going to have to get in there and do some division, do some do some thinning to keep some of these plants under control unless you really want them to take over or in some cases, they might end up having some health issues on their, you know, just as a result of crowding themselves out. But while you definitely don't want to do or bring in aggressive plants into your garden, and then not do the maintenance, because then how do you how do you kind of recover from that you ended up having plants take over and go beyond where you want them to go. And we certainly hear from people in those situations all the time. Exactly. Yeah, some, some perennials can can be like that, especially some of the ground cover perennials. So be careful sometimes when you're choosing those, especially if you're going to put a ground cover near a woodland area, or any sort of wild area where it might escape. If it's an area bordered by your lawn. I'm not so concerned because the lawnmower is going to keep that plant from getting out of control. Many of our listeners are probably doing mostly perennials. That said, I think there's a role for annuals, even in you know, even in sustainable perennial gardens. A lot of gardeners use both, I guess, just curious what your take is on the role of annuals in a sustainable and attractive flower garden. I think annuals absolutely have a place. I mean, they're not for everyone. Some people are absolutely against planting annuals in their gardens, other people like to plant a lot. One of the best things about annuals is that they tend to have continuous bloom, particularly if you're good about deadheading or if you're selecting more modern varieties that have just been bred for their for their ability to continue blooming the whole season long. So you're guaranteed pretty much the whole season to have color. So that's nice to make your borders more attractive. And semi annual two are actually pretty good pollinator plants. They're a good source of nectar and pollen. So having a plant there, you know, perhaps while you're in between bloom on some of your perennials can be really nice. And I think in some cases too, if you're say you don't have the budget, let's say to fill in a whole garden with with perennials because they can be pricey. Starting some manuals from seed and putting those into your garden or directly sowing some that that come up fine that way is a great option too. I mean, I don't think they should be counted out. I think they can be a nice addition and can fit into as a nice sustainably designed garden. If they're just used, you know sparingly here and there.

Nate Bernitz  19:47  
So I actually want to bring in a listener question at this point as we kind of wrap up the plant selection part of the discussion but Martha has asked how can home gardeners change potentially their native plantings in response to climate change. And she's wondering if it's okay to introduce natives from another region?

Emma Erler  20:07  
What a great question. Yeah, so you're kind of talking about assisted migration, essentially, you're you're helping a species that lives further south move north, that's actually something worth talking about. Because a lot of native plants have the potential to possibly go extinct unless they have a little bit of help from people to move north, you know, in response to climate change, because they wouldn't be able to spread that quickly on their own, taking a plant that's growing further south, but is zone hardy enough to live in New Hampshire, I wouldn't be too concerned about it taking over, you know, wreaking havoc on the ecosystem, things that are native to North America, in general do not become an invasive threat. So I don't see an issue there. If anything, you know, having some plants that are that are native to more southern regions in our garden is just helpful as we look at our climate getting warmer and being more like the Mid Atlantic. That's totally fine. And that's actually something that a lot of botanical gardens and arboretums are looking at doing moving native plants from the south from the northern part of their range a little bit further north.

Nate Bernitz  21:19  
Really, really interesting and probably another one of those topics that that could lead to many other questions but I want to bring in one more question that Donna asked on Facebook Donna's looking at a mostly shaded very rooty and and an area she describes as covered in leaves. So you know, maybe maybe a more naturalized area, maybe an area on a woodland border or something like that. She's wondering what she can plant. are wildflower is a possibility, certain perennials? So this is just an example everyone's got their own unique site conditions. That's how Donna's sort of defined hers and just you know, for an example, what would what would you recommend for her

Emma Erler  22:00  
dry shade is probably one of the tougher conditions to deal with in the landscape. There aren't a whole lot of plants that really enjoy those conditions, a lot of shade perennials, like more consistent moisture, a lot of the woodlanders definitely appreciate that. There are definitely some things you could plant. One of my favorite perennials for dry shade is called epimedium. Or barrenwart is another common name for it. epimedium is the genus. This is not native, it's native to Asia. But it has these really nice kind of heart shaped leaves and really delicate flowers that that come out in the late spring. It can grow as a ground cover it kind of grows slowly creeping up but it's it's really nice plant and one that I think could be used in the landscape more particularly in some of these tough spots where it is where it is pretty dry. You might also if this is more of a dappled shade, you could possibly get away with some of the geraniums there are some wild geraniums like spotted geranium, geranium maculatum, that will take a pretty dry soil and will definitely take a bit of shade. Another one is the big root geranium, geranium macrorrhizum, that is a really nice pretty fuchsia flower and these big thick stems that one also will definitely take drought and in is fine with with part shade. you are probably going to have a little bit of trouble digging through those roots and the roots are going to hamper the growth of those plants to a certain extent, it's okay, when you're digging in the garden to actually snip and cut some of the smaller routes to get a perennial into the ground. As long as a route is less than let's say an inch in diameter, you're really not doing any harm to the tree at all. So those those very small hairlike routes, those can go in in order to keep these plants healthy going forward. giving them some water during dry periods is going to be the best thing you can do so that they so that the tree and the perennials aren't competing with each other.

Nate Bernitz  24:02  
That sounds like a really challenging spot for Donna to deal with. I bet many listeners are dealing with similarly challenging situations but great tips. So so if you're looking at an area and maybe maybe it's something like what Donna is dealing with, but just in general an area that's not a garden, but you'd like to turn it into a garden, or maybe it's it's a garden that got away from you a few years ago, and you're trying to kind of bring it back. What do you what do you use as your primary tools for preparing that site in terms of eliminating weeds in terms of getting that soil where it needs to be in terms of defining the physical space?

Emma Erler  24:45  
Well, if you can really plan ahead and get this garden bed prepared, let's say you know, a full year before you actually want to plant that's going to be ideal, and I realize that's not realistic for a lot of people. But if you can do that, that's going to be great. One of the probably honestly easiest and best ways to do this is by smothering the existing weeds or grass or you know, whatever vegetation is in that area, you can do this a few ways. You can do it with heavy black plastic, tarps, carpet squares, whatever you have laying around, or you can do it by putting layers of newspaper or cardboard over the lawn area or weedy area and putting composts or maybe some some mulch over top of that to keep it in place. I like the compost method, because then you can either when it comes time to plan or right before planting, you can incorporate that compost, the newspaper should have broken down, you know, after usually after at least three or four months, that's, that's pretty much totally broken down. Or you might be able to just plant right through it, it is gonna be important, you know, ideally, at least when you first get the garden started to have a bit of an idea of what the soil pH is, what nutrients are available. So having your soil tested is definitely the ideal. Now a lot of gardeners, least perennial gardeners probably aren't as concerned about testing their soil, you know, on a regular basis as a vegetable gardener, but it is still helpful to at least have a baseline to start with, in case you do need to add some lime. Or to give you an idea of what sort of fertilizers might be appropriate to use in your garden, the majority of perennials are going to be happy as growing with a soil pH that's probably between six and seven. If it's too much lower than six, you're going to run into nutrient issues. And if your soil is getting very basic, so too far above neutral at seven, then again, some plants aren't going to grow very well, making sure that's in line. And just to note, you know, many soils in New Hampshire are already chock full of phosphorus, it's it's nice to know, you know, if your soil already has a lot of phosphorus, you're not going to need to put that down in a fertilizer, and it will actually be better environmentally as well, if you don't.

Nate Bernitz  27:07  
and so fast forwarding, you've successfully prepared the bed you've done everything right, you're ready to plant. So first of all, when to plant, maybe break out annuals and perennials, because that's often a source of confusion is, you know, is it okay to plant yet? We're we're releasing this episode on April 30. So we can kind of think about that timeframe as far as what can be planted and what we should continue waiting on. And then we'll also get into you actually bring those plants home from the garden center, how deep are you digging that hole and plant and planting those? How are you spacing them, etc.

Emma Erler  27:50  
Gotcha. So when to plant, if you're going to be getting new plants from the garden center, my inclination is usually to wait until at least May when the chance of hard frost is pretty much passed. Even though a perennial might be plenty cold hearty enough to survive in our area. A lot of times these plants are grown further south. So they're at a development point far past what they would typically be at in our climate. So they might have flower buds or tender leaves that are pretty sensitive to cold and could be damaged if we get a late snow or a really hard frost. So, you know waiting a little bit until we're really past that period, I think is going to give you the best show anyways, you could put those perennials in a bit earlier, you know, these these things that are already in bloom at the garden center, despite the fact that it's maybe you know, only April or early May, just knowing that there might be a slight risk, those flowers could end up getting damaged by cold with annuals, you definitely want to wait until we're past the last frost. Now that's hard to estimate, right? Well, we can't but in general, usually by the end of May, for the entire state, we're past really the best risk of getting a frost I don't rush on those a lot of times they make it to you know, this, this, the shelves particularly at some of the box stores really early. And these two have probably been grown further south in a warmer climate or in a in a greenhouse. And they're they're just not quite ready to go outside yet. So if you don't want to replace things, I'd say Wait, and be putting your annuals into your flower beds probably about the same time you're putting your tender crops into your vegetable garden like your tomatoes or cucumbers.

Nate Bernitz  29:39  
Let me just jump in there because let's say that you've already got gone to the garden center and brought home some annuals brought home some more tender perennials. What do you do? Is it better to plant them or is it better to hold on to them and try and shuffle them inside and out or you know, whatever. Whatever you You can do to get to that point where it really is safe to actually plant them in their permanent location.

Emma Erler  30:05  
Yeah, I, you know, I'm inclined to probably want to keep them in their containers, keep them watered and shuffled them inside or outside, you know, you might leave them on a deck area, as long as the outdoor temperature isn't isn't approaching freezing or going to get down below freezing. This is really for annuals, not so much for the perennials. If you already have your perennials, I'd say go ahead and plant them. But with your annuals, I, I'd wait You know, I to be on the safe side, I wait until at least mid May or so just just to be safe. If you're a lucky person that has a greenhouse, they could go in there. Or you might be able to keep them in a, you know, a really bright sunny window and some of the colder days, you might still have, or, you know, if you're just itching to get them in the ground, being willing to put some put some protection over those plants if a frost or snow is in the forecast. So be will being willing to put tarps over them or, or some some other sort of frost protection. It's just more work. I'm usually looking to avoid all that work by planting a bit later,

Nate Bernitz  31:18  
right, avoid that work by buying at the right time, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. It's it's a Saturday, it's in the 70s. And I don't care that it's early April. Right.

Emma E  31:30  
Exactly, exactly.

Nate Bernitz  31:33  
So you've brought your plants home, let's say it is the right time. And you're wondering how deep to plant should you plant at the same exact depth that they're currently planted in in their container, should you be planting a little deeper to some may be incurred some additional root growth from the stem does it depend on the plant

Emma Erler  31:54  
in general, you want to put all plants whether it's annuals or perennials in the ground at the same level as they were sitting in their pot. So you want that that top soil line to be equal with the ground when you when you're putting it in. Meaning you know, you don't want that stem to be buried any further or the the leaves at the base to be buried any further than they were originally. The only caveat there is whether you plan to mulch or not. Right after you plant sometimes it can be helpful to to put your annuals or perennials in the ground half an inch to an inch or so high, if you're planning to put mulch down right away. Because if you're putting that mulch down, there's a chance that mulch might then be too high on the plant stem or foliage. Now this is probably particularly the case with annual plants. So putting them you know, just a little bit on the higher side within reason is is okay. So that's that's something you might try. But for the most part, you do want to plant those at the same depth or level as they were in their pot. 

Nate Bernitz  33:00  
And when you do plant, how do you prevent that plant from just sinking down, right, because you want it to be at the right depth. And sometimes you might think it's at the right depth but maybe after watering or something like that it actually sinks and is lower than you then you intended. And speaking of that planting process, do you recommend adding any sort of soil amendments, adding fertilizer at the time of planting?

Emma Erler  33:25  
Yeah, so what I tend to do so first off when I'm digging the hole for my perennial, I'm looking at the size of the pot that it's currently in and I'm trying to dig a hole that's big enough that I can sleeve that pot right in now, trying to gauge you know, how, excuse me, how deep I need to make that hole so that the plants not going to be sitting too deep there. When I've got that hole seemingly big enough, I'll pop the plant out of its pot if it seems very root bound, like if those roots are really really dense and circling around the base all the way down to the base of the pot might loosen those up a little bit and then I try out the fit. I'll stick that plant in the hole if it seems to be sitting at the right level. Then I'll start back filling that hole. What's nice to do is to gently pack that soil with your fingers as you're refilling the hole. So basically you're you're continually gently packing the soil around that plant so that should keep it from sinking or or shifting really at all and that's also going to eliminate air pockets that are around the roots because that can that can cause the roots to dry out some people to also like to water you know, once they've filled that hole back in about halfway to let some of the soil settle and then finish filling in that hole. I think that's particularly helpful if the soil is really dry. When you're when you're transplanting with fertilizer kind of depends, you know, if you're starting from scratch with a brand new bed, you might put fertilizer down before you plant so that some of it will get incorporated into the soil to the depth where the plant's root system as if this is an established bed, you know, I probably would definitely wouldn't be putting any fertilizer directly in the planting hole. Really in any scenario. If anything, I would be amending the whole bed, or I would be top dressing around all of the plants including the one that's that's first or the one that you just put in.

Nate Bernitz  35:26  
Okay, and any special tips for transplanting? You know when to do that? How to do that? Is it kind of just the same thing as how you would plant something that you're getting from the garden center?

Emma Erler  35:37  
Yeah, usually plants are, they're gonna be happiest if you do it either in the spring or in the fall when the temperatures a little bit cooler, and there's usually more rainfall. Another thing to keep in mind is just what the weather conditions are like on a particular day, really cloudy, cooler days without a lot of wind are ideal for transplanting or better yet, if you're willing to go out in the rain, that's, that's perfect. What you want to avoid if you can is transplanting on a day where it's it's very sunny, very dry, very windy, these conditions are going to cause plants to lose a lot of water and have a lot more issues with with drought stress right off the bat or or potentially transplant shocks you'll have a plant that's looking really sad. Within an hour or so after you've planted it.

Nate Bernitz  36:27  
Would you generally want to avoid transplanting something while it's flowering?

Emma Erler  36:31  
Yeah, so if you transplant something while it's flowering, it might stress the plant out a little bit, you're also usually going to destroy those flowers. The stress of transplanting will usually mean that the flower This is if you're moving something in your garden from one spot to another disturbing that root system typically causes the flowers to, to wilt and fade really quickly. So I'd say enjoy that show with the plant where it is and then transplant after. With things from the nursery, the root system is going to be more intact, you're not going to be removing roots like you would be if you were dividing something and moving it in the garden. And that's really the issue with with things getting stressed out when they're in bloom. Because you're severing a good part of the root system with something in a pot. not as big a concern.

Nate Bernitz  37:20  
One perpetual issue with planting is spacing because you want your garden to look good right away. And you're buying young plants. And I'm certainly tempted to want to plant those closer together than what the tag says, because it just looks so empty. How do you think about that? Are there any opportunities are certain approaches that might work where you're planting more densely, or do you really just want to stick to that recommended spacing,

Emma Erler  37:51  
usually the spacing, it all comes down to your budget. If you have all sorts of money to spend, then you can definitely plant things closer than say is recommended. It's going to give you a fuller, more finished look to the garden earlier might also mean that you have to thin things out sooner. But you know, you know it kind of depends on what it is that you're planting to, particularly if you're putting in perennial ground cover, a closer spacing is going to give you that you know that that full complete ground cover effect, possibly within a season versus spacing them farther apart, where you're gonna have to wait quite a bit longer for that to happen. One other thing to keep in mind too, though is is when it comes to spacing, his plant disease issues, certain plants are fairly prone to fungal diseases, which are heightened by increased humidity or prolonged leaf wetness, which is encouraged by having plants right next to each other right on top of each other. That's something to keep in mind, particularly if you're growing a plant that is or tends to be disease prone, let's say like like garden phlox or monarda

Nate Bernitz  39:08  
any plants that you would want to stake at the time of planting? Or is that not really a consideration like it would be for many of our veggies?

Emma Erler  39:16  
with a lot of things that you're transplanting I don't think that that's really something you have to worry about unless you see a flowering stem starting to flop over the year of transplant usually you're not expecting great results and you're not expecting a tremendous amount of vigorous vegetative growth in year two, then you might you know be thinking about that particularly with with plants that that get very tall or or tend to flop over and you don't want them to you know i'm i'm thinking of let's say bap teesha right now, which is a really lovely perennial that if it's in a really rich, moist soil uh A lot of outer stems tend to flop right down to the ground, or with or peonies too. There's another example of a plant with flowers that will tip over and hit the ground unless they are staked up properly.

Nate Bernitz  40:13  
Okay, so some particular special considerations.

Emma Erler  40:16  
Usually it's more of an aesthetic issue than anything when you're staking perennials in the garden. It's usually to enhance the look of that plant.

Nate Bernitz  40:26  
Got it. Lisa, on Facebook asked about mulching, wondering, do you need to mulch your flower garden? And what are some mulches you could consider? And how thick should that mulch layer be?

Emma Erler  40:41  
mulching, I would say yes, pretty much always unless you have a really dense ground cover where you can't see the ground. Mulch is helpful for a number of reasons. One, it can help prevent soil erosion, it can also help preserve soil moisture. So particularly in drought years, having a mulch on the ground, if we do get rain, or if you do use a sprinkler, it's going to help keep some of that moisture in the soil for longer by slowing evaporation. Also, importantly, it's going to help prevent weeds, which they're they're, you know, a special few of us gardeners who really enjoy weeding, I'm one of them. But a lot of people don't want to deal with that. So having a thick mulch layer is really helpful for that reason. And then probably Finally, you know, for aesthetics to, mulches can be really beautiful, and they can help accent plants as well. So having a mulch down is worthwhile. lots of options out there, you can definitely go with a wood mulch that you'll get at the garden center. Or you can potentially use materials that you already have on site, like grass clippings or leaves from trees in your yard or pine needles.

Nate Bernitz  41:59  
Okay, so definitely important and a lot of different ways of going about it. So for ongoing care and maintenance of established beds, let's start with weed control, how do you recommend keeping those weeds under control and really getting a handle on them because weeding takes up a lot of time, people are looking for new techniques to you know to be more effective and save time. And if you if you forget to weed for a while it can get really out of control.

Emma Erler  42:28  
It's a little bit tough in perennial borders. You know, a lot of times hand weeding is our only option. Because there's there's nothing that we can spray or use that's going to take out just the weeds and not hurt the plants that we want to have in that bed. My best advice is to weed early and often to try to prevent things from going to seed if you are really diligent with your weeding, and especially if you're able to keep perennial weeds from coming in and getting established in your beds to begin with. It's really not a big deal at all. If you are going to put down a mulch, weeding really thoroughly before you put down that mulch is probably the best thing you can do. If that mulch is at an appropriate depth, that's probably going to prevent weed seeds from coming up. Another option of course, potentially, you know, depending on the situation is using some sort of herbicide to control the weeds in your bed. There are pre emergent herbicides that are labeled for use around perennial plants that you put down in the spring that would kill germinating weed seeds, or you know, you may be able to spot treat plants here and there with you know, if you're if your perennials aren't super close together, you may be able to use some sort of spray to take care of weeds. But for most of us it's it's hand weeding and just keeping up with it, it really really does make a difference. And for those if you ever have issues I find with a really stubborn perennial weed, let's say something like quack grass. Sometimes it's just easier to dig up the perennial plant that you want extricate it from all the weeds, get rid of those and then put that plant back in the ground rather than trying to weed around or through.

Nate Bernitz  44:17  
Do you see annual fertilization as being important or not so much. Many of these perennials may just not need very much fertility, right?

Emma Erler  44:28  
With established gardens and established plants. You don't usually need a whole lot of fertilizer. If, for whatever reason you think your plants are growing really slowly or stunted. Certainly if they're showing any signs of deficiency, like let's say an on off colored leaf, say like a yellow leaf or something, it is possible that nutrients are needed. If you're using an organic mulch, then some nutrients are definitely being added to the soil with that But you might, you might find that, you know, your plants just aren't as robust as you'd like. And sometimes fertilization can help with that. Like I mentioned before, if you can get your soil tested before you go out and invest in a bunch of fertilizer, that is going to be super, super helpful. Also, like I mentioned before, phosphorus is often really, really high and garden soils. And a lot of the fertilizers that are intended for flowers are for perennials are already really high and phosphorus. So particularly if you live near a body of water, be that up stream, river, Lake pond, whatever. So very possible that your perennial border does not need any more phosphorus. So So choosing an appropriate fertilizers, not only going to be good for your plants, but good for the environment,

Nate Bernitz  45:50  
and for an established flower garden. And maybe we're differentiating between annuals and perennials here. But what do you view as a good irrigation schedule? Is there a certain way that you prefer to water these flower gardens? How often, etc?

Emma Erler  46:07  
Well, really, the gold standard would be a drip irrigation system that's installed throughout the beds, that that's going to be more for real permanent planting. So you don't want to put a drip irrigation system in an area where you're planning on digging things up every single year. Just because it's it's a pain. So with a perennial garden that, you know, you're putting in more or less a permanent design, totally appropriate. Another, you know, slightly lower tech option is to actually put drip hoses through your beds. And those work really well, they don't last super long, you know, they might, you might just get a season or two out of them. But you can actually sometimes bury those with mulch too. And, you know, have a have, you know, a pretty good effect there. If those don't sound like good options for you, then overhead irrigation is the next best thing. So setting up the old hose and sprinkler. And oftentimes, you know, for for I think a lot of homeowners, that's the easiest option, the most economical option, the important thing to keep in mind is just doing it at the right time. So that you're avoiding issues with with diseases. So try to water as early as possible in the morning, and then have that irrigation, you know, shut off early enough so that plants have a chance to dry out in the sun.

Nate Bernitz  47:34  
And is that something you need to do every day, once a week? What is the frequency you're looking at?

Emma Erler  47:39  
it's gonna depend a bit on the weather conditions. You know, if you're getting an inch of rain a week, probably even half an inch of rain a week, you're you're fine, you don't need to water. If it's been weeks without rain, then watering deeply, once, maybe twice a week is going to be plenty. And by that I mean putting down enough water that that soil is getting moisten to a depth of let's say, like six inches or so. And actually measuring out how much water you're putting down with your sprinklers helpful to to try to get to that inch, which you can do that just with a straight sided can and a ruler.

Nate Bernitz  48:16  
And we're maybe looking at more frequent watering when we're establishing new plants, or have young annuals something like that, right?

Emma Erler  48:25  
Absolutely. When things are just getting established and annuals really throughout the whole season. Most annuals aren't that drought tolerant and they're going to need a fair amount of water and perennials and they're getting established definitely well.

Nate Bernitz  48:37  
Denise on Facebook asked about dividing perennials. So which perennials do you think about as really needing division? And what time of year are you looking at there?

Emma Erler  48:48  
definitely a few plants come to mind. ornamental grasses, if you use those in your landscape usually need to be divided every four or five years or so. If you don't, what you'll end up with is kind of a doughnut ring pattern with that plant where the center actually dies out because the plants really out competed itself. The same thing can happen with irises, particularly Siberian Iris, so those need to be divided regularly. And sometimes daylilies too can benefit from that a lot of times plants will tell you, you know if they need to be divided because the leaves will start getting a bit smaller or you'll get that dead patch in the middle. With other things they might just keep creeping beyond the bounds where you really want them So dividing some off the sides could be useful to keep that plant under control. I would recommend doing division either in the spring or in the fall. You can do it in the summer, but you're going to have to do a lot more watering to keep that plant alive are those those offsets alive I should say that the section if you don't end up digging up the whole clump, which is the easiest way to divide things. Dig the whole thing up and divided into chunks then then You're going to need a lot of irrigation.

Nate Bernitz  50:02  
Another important task is deadheading, which is one of the tasks I actually really enjoy in the garden. I find it meditative. And it's one of the reasons I like growing flowers. And my understanding is that deadheading is actually pretty important, especially for at least for some flowers getting more blooms. That obviously a primary reason to do it would just be to keep things neat and tidy. What's the technique you recommend for for deadheading? And which flowers is it particularly important for?

Emma Erler  50:34  
deadheading is super fun. I'll give you that with annual plants in particular, deadheading can be really important to keep them flowering. Basically when you remove the seed heads from a plant or the spent flower, you're cutting off that plant's ability to actually complete its reproductive cycle. So informing the plant that way you can trigger it to try blooming again give it another shot at getting those seeds produced. With some perennials too, you can potentially get a rebloom if if you deadhead campanula to a certain extent, sometimes with salvia, you can get another bloom when you actually are doing the deadheading. My approach is to make you know my pinches or my cuts back to a point where it's really not noticeable that I did that. So if I'm, let's say pruning a daily, that's while they lose, there's a couple of different ways right, you can break off the spent flowerhead itself. And then when that entire scape is done, I would cut that stock all the way to the base or as far down as I can so that you don't see that cut stem sticking above the foliage. And that is honestly really my approach with with most plants unless it's one that has, you know, buds developing further up on the stem, when it's totally done blooming, cut as low as you possibly can get.

Nate Bernitz  51:55  
Yet another task that comes up is pinching flowers back, this is something that we hear about, or at least I hear about in kind of late spring, early summer. But I'm never really quite sure what needs to be pinched back and what doesn't.

Emma Erler  52:11  
pinching is one of those things that you know, it's a little bit arbitrary, you know, nothing really needs to be pinched. But it can improve the look and the habit of a plant, particularly things that tend to get very lanky in the on the annual side of things plants like coleus, and plectranthus has definitely benefit from pinching. And that basically just means taking out the main growing point back down to just above a set of leaves, that's going to cause the plant to branch a lot more and, you know, be bushier potentially have more flowers with perennials. So you can sometimes do this too, if you want them to be a little bit shorter. No, not not with all but with some this will work, let's say with some of the Astor's because this can work quite nicely with potentially some of the Golden rods, you can do this as well. So you cut that plant, you know, down by a third or a half early in the season. So earlier in the summer, you know, just as fresh, it's full height, cut it down. So that still is plenty of time to form flower buds. So I guess with perennials, really, you'd only be trying this with with things that are late summer blooming or fall blooming. But with annuals, you can pretty much do it whenever.

Nate Bernitz  53:25  
And then there's also going to be kind of debate about whether you should be cutting off spent flowers, it's possible that doing that might give the plant more energy to produce more flowers or produce more vegetative growth. But first, I mean, of course, if you're saving seeds, you wouldn't do that. But seeds also provide food for wildlife. So that's a consideration to how do you think about that?

Emma Erler  53:49  
cutting off those seed heads, in some cases can just get the plants put more energy and to root and shoot production as opposed to producing seeds. So things that you probably would never really be saving seeds from like your iris or dailies that makes a lot of sense. or even your bulbs. Let's say you're daffodils. That's a great thing. And yeah, some things to that you might not deadhead or those plants that that do have wildlife benefits. So the ornamental grasses, some of the plants that are in that the daisy family, you know some of those sunflowers leave them up. those seeds are great for a lot of birds and other small mammals.

Nate Bernitz  54:29  
And then there are what we would call our self sowing annuals. So what that thinning is going to come into play, right? Because if if they have a really good year and lots of those seeds that they produced come up, you might have to thin some of those out. But you also just want to know what are those annuals that can actually self seed here? Because of course, not all the annuals do but yeah, what do you think of when you think of those self sowing annuals and how do you approach the thinning process the following year?

Emma Erler  55:00  
I think that the self sowing some of these self sowing annuals are really nice choice for the more casual, or, you know, wild cottage style garden, they can be pretty annoying if you're trying to keep more of a formal bed because the seeds are just they're going to plants are going to come up wherever the seed falls, not necessarily where you want it. One of my favorites and there's actually a number of these but one of my favorites is the California Poppy, which is a really beautiful little plant that is native to the west coast of North America grows about a foot tall, this kind of frosted blue foliage and orange flowers. It is a short lived perennial, but for the most part doesn't survive, you know, winters in New Hampshire. So you're only going to see it, you know, or you're only going to get new plants essentially, you know, and a few other favorites for me. One would be love in a mist, nigella kind of a neat old fashioned flower. And Larkspur is another really nice one kind of has these delphinium like flowers. And if you have a really rich garden soil that is consistently moist, it's going to be a really nice plant to add to your landscape.

Nate Bernitz  56:14  
Of course, it depends on how neat you're trying to keep those beds like you've been saying over and over. But for many gardeners, that early summer time period might be a time that you're looking at some beds that are getting out of control and you're wanting to edge those up. What What tips do you have for edging beds and kind of keeping those borders,?

Emma Erler  56:34  
there are certainly mechanical tools you can use for edging that that make it a little bit faster and easier. For most of us though, just a square spade. So like, yeah, this is square bladed spade shovel that has a D handle is all you need. So you're just going to be going around the edge of your bed and driving in that shovel and peeling off the little bit of extra turf or weeds that have come in that are encroaching on your garden bed. Another thing too, you know, if you are just sick of edging every season which you know, totally can happen, there are different you know, edging materials that you can put into so there there are plastic little edging guards you can use or steel as well guards can be put in. The only issue with these is that they often get heaved out of the soil over the winter so you'll probably have to push them back down or dig them back in periodically or I guess if you're looking for a real you know formal finish look. edging beds with with cobblestones bricks or some other sort of pavers is probably your best option if you if you're just sick of it.

Nate Bernitz  57:43  
We've been talking a lot about best tips for maintenance. And we can do all of these things but still have issues because there are pests that are recurring problems, whether it's nuisance wildlife, which we focused on in the last episode and aren't really gonna get into now. Or some of these insect pass and I would just bring up three that come to mind are aphids or garden beetles, like Japanese beetles, and slugs give any basic tips on how to kind of prevent those issues or nip them in the bud when they do come up

Emma Erler  58:17  
with aphids, I usually don't do much at all, if anything, I might just spray them off of plants with a steady stream of water from a hose. That's that's usually plenty enough to knock down their population. But with lots of beneficial you know, predators out there like like ladybugs or lace bugs. Oftentimes, you know, a aphid infestation might be short lived, so I don't worry about it too much. With garden beetles, you know Japanese beetles, Asiatic garden beetles, you name it. With these guys, it's a little bit tougher, my preference is to hand pick them off plants and this really can have a big impact if you're doing it consistently. So go out early mornings when when these insects are still pretty slow moving just scoop them off of plants and dunk them in soapy water. That's my preference that tends to kill them pretty quickly. And with slugs, there are definitely different you know things out there that you can try for slugs. One being the beer trap. So basically have a shallow dish that you put some ideally cheap beer and that attracts the slugs and ultimately drowns them. There also other you know, other things you can try with, you know, slug baits or certain things that are that are meant to keep slugs off of plants like copper guards, or diatomaceous earth. I think the best approach of slugs or recurring issue is just to change the environment. slugs love areas that stay damp for a really long time. So if there's any anything you can do to improve drainage? Try that. And if there's something that slugs just won't leave alone, you might need to replace it with something else,

Nate Bernitz  1:00:09  
something that is always confusing. It's just like, can you accept some of this damage? If you see Japanese beetles or something munching on your flowers? Are they gonna kill your plants? Or is it really more of an aesthetic issue? Or is there kind of a certain threshold, that you're trying to keep the damage under?

Emma Erler  1:00:30  
with the majority of plants in your garden, it's really just going to be an aesthetic issue. Maybe with some annuals, the beetles might do enough damage to actually, you know, kill that plant. But by and large, it's just an aesthetic issue. And the worst of the feeding damage happens, usually within just a few weeks, and plants might recover afterwards. I think everybody has a different threshold that they'll tolerate, I'll tolerate quite a bit. And I'm, I'm willing to just go out and handpick those insects off, which means that there's going to be a bit of feeding. But yeah, rarely are they actually gonna kill things.

Nate Bernitz  1:01:10  
And there certainly are a number of pesticides that are marketed for use in flower gardens. I'm pretty hesitant with that. Because I know that while there are some of these pests that are in the garden, there are also pollinators and beneficial insects in there too. Are there certain situations where you might consider using a pesticide to to manage insect pests in a flower garden? And if you were gonna do that, you know, what are some kind of basic considerations you would have?

Emma Erler  1:01:42  
I mean, for me, personally, no, I really never use insecticides in the garden. If for some reason, you know, you had a scenario where perfection was was really key, let's say you have a formal rose garden, and you really aren't going to put up with any sort of damage. I mean, the ideal is that you're going to put that that insecticide on the plant, when it's not actively blooming, which is a real challenge, right? Because a lot of garden pests, or a lot of insect pests are gonna be an issue on plants in your garden when they are blooming. So it's just kind of a tough call, I guess. I mean, for the most part, I would say, not needed. If for whatever reason, you need that just absolute perfection, then, I mean, I guess you just have to accept that there, there could be some negative consequences on the good guys in your garden, meaning pollinators. If you're applying, well, plants are in bloom.

Nate Bernitz  1:02:41  
And we encourage people to not spray when plants are in bloom. But that's a lot easier in your fruit orchard than it is in your flower garden where hopefully you have flowers blooming all year round. If you've done that really thoughtful plant selection, because you do want plants blooming year round, then that limits your options. And I do hear from some people who use soil drenches, and I don't know, I think that, you know, maybe people might have out of sight out of mind approach to something like that you pour it on that you think of it as some kind of preventative, but that's gonna have impacts as well.

Emma Erler  1:03:20  
And particularly, there are a lot of good guys in the garden too. A lot of the the caterpillars that you encounter in your garden, you know, they're, they're going to be the butterflies later on that we enjoy so much. So any sort of systemic product is going to injure an any sort of insect insect that eats that plant. So whether it's one of the bad guys or you know whether it's one of the good guys, so I tend to Yeah, I pretty light hand for me when it when it comes to insecticides in the flower garden.

Nate Bernitz  1:03:50  
Yeah, I mean, it sounds like there are a lot of other approaches that don't involve the use of chemicals that can work really well. And unless it's a very formal garden with high expectations, you know, most of us can tolerate some degree of damage, but good good things to think about. And I don't want to get into diseases too much. You already talked about watering practices as a way of preventing disease to some extent you have any other tips and what happens if you do suspected disease?

Emma Erler  1:04:20  
one thing I didn't talk about yet is I don't think is actually selecting varieties that are disease resistant. In certain plants that tend to have issues consistently with diseases like powdery mildew, let's say garden flocks, there are a lot of newer varieties that just really don't come down with this disease at all. So choosing one of those is gonna, you know, save you having to use any sort of fungicide or be overly concerned about your watering practices or spacing. You just gonna have a healthier plant from the get go.

Nate Bernitz  1:04:53  
Okay, and I did want to bring in one question from Deborah on Facebook. Who specifically brought up hanging baskets. And we can bring planters into this too. Deborah's had issues where they they come home and look great for maybe six weeks, and they really start to decline. Do you have any basic tips for how to keep planters and hanging baskets going?

Emma Erler  1:05:17  
Yeah, I've got a few ideas. The first is proper watering. For a lot of hangers, they're planted really densely. So watering at least once a day is going to be key. Because these these plants, there's a whole lot of plants with a whole lot of root mass in a small space. And over watering can be a challenge sometimes to over and under watering. So I would say as soon as that soil is pretty much you know, dried out thoroughly in that top inch of potting mix, it's time to water and you want to want to water enough that water's draining out the bottom of the pot, and then wait until you're back to that point again, where it's dried out. deadheading in some cases can also help keep containers going a little bit longer. A lot of the animals that are in containers don't really need to be deadheaded. But it can certainly help. And then fertilizing, you're definitely going to need to fertilize your containers because there's only a you know, there's a finite amount of nutrients that can be in that potting mix. So I would say choose a good water soluble fertilizer to use nice balanced one like a 10 10 10 or 20 20 20 that you can mix up and fertilize your hanging baskets with at least every two weeks will hopefully keep them looking good for much longer.

Nate Bernitz  1:06:34  
Okay, and last question I've got for you, Emma. And again, this is a whole episode in and of itself. But if you're specifically trying to do pollinator gardens, can you just briefly overview kind of what that means and what the basic considerations are and sort of differences between a garden that you're just doing for aesthetic reasons and enjoyment versus a garden where you're specifically focusing on supporting pollinators.

Emma Erler  1:07:02  
In general, I would say go for as many native plants as you can see, a lot of these tend to be better food sources for pollinators, just because they they evolved with them. Of course, there are exceptions there. There are some non native plants that are excellent pollen and nectar sources. But you know, to keep things simple, go native. And also consider the bloom times of these plants. To have a really successful pollinator garden, you want to have flowers pretty much throughout the entire season. So from spring right through fall, so consider when these things are going to bloom and try to have representatives for every season. And then lastly, gardens. pollinator gardens are often more effective to when you plant things in groups. So if you can plant a big mass of one particular plant, let's say a massive of golden rod or beebalm, that's going to be a lot more attractive to pollinators and just one single plant.

Nate Bernitz  1:07:57  
Yeah, and like I said that that really is a topic in and of itself. I do want to just tease a few upcoming webinars that we have that really just touch on on these topics. So on May 26, Emma is actually giving a presentation through our collaborative series with the University of Maine specifically on supporting pollinators in your landscape. So I hope you'll check that out. And we'll have a link in the show notes for this specifically for that webinar. And we also have one on irrigation for the home garden on June 23, where we're going to be talking about techniques that Emma brought up today, like drip irrigation soaker hoses, etc. So, a couple and that that may be of a lot of interest. And em I think you wanted to bring in one final audience question that that I guess we're gonna call our quote unquote featured question for this episode.

Emma Erler  1:09:03  
This episode's featured question came from Manya who asked which perennials are good for a cut flower garden and is it too late to get them started from seed. A number of perennials make great cut flowers and are relatively easy to grow in New Hampshire gardens. Some of my favorites include Iris Aster, hellebores, peonies, lady's mantle, why actress coneflowers orange Geum, also known as C Holly is still be Yarrow garden phlox autumn joy or similar type C DME beebalm. Economics, golden rod oxide, the oxide Daisy and perennial Black Eyed Susan. Although they're shrubs many hydrangeas can also make really nice cut flowers. Some perennial plants can be started from seed, but doing so would take a lot of patience. It Most perennials three or more years to flower for the first time, you'll be harvesting flowers much sooner if you purchase perennials and containers or get divisions from other gardeners. If you do decide to start plants from seed, start them indoors in early spring, or sew them directly in the garden outside in the fall. Exact planting recommendations of course vary depending on species. The featured plant is none other than foam flower tiarella cordifolia.

A member of the Saxifrag family, Saxifragaceae, foam flower is native to New Hampshire, where it can be found growing in forests, swamps and the edges of wetlands. Foam flower is a beautiful ground cover that is largely ignored by rabbits and deer. It's a clump forming perennial that spreads quickly by runners to form dense colonies. Foam flower is closely related to another garden favorite heucheras and shares many similarities in leaf and flower form. Foam flower leaves are roughly heart shaped and colored in attractive green with occasional reddish variegation along the veins. The tiny white flowers sit atop long flower stocks and bloom and may lasting for about six weeks. a patch of foam flower and full bloom has an airy foamy texture, hence how it got its common name. Interestingly, foam flower was once used medicinally by Native Americans for a variety of conditions, including sore mouth and babies. know if your garden has rich well drained consistently moist soil and part shade the full shade foam flower could be an excellent choice for you. Try it out and woodland gardens, shaded rock gardens naturalized plantings are along the woods edge.

Nate Bernitz  1:12:08  
Well, that's all for today's show on flower gardening, but don't let that put an end to the conversation. Email us at GSG dot pod@unh.edu. With your lingering questions feedback on the podcast and suggestions for future episodes. We plan to continue featuring your real listener questions on future episodes, so keep those common. While New Hampshire may grow rocks you my friends grow flowers, so keep on growing Granite State gardeners. We'll be back in a couple weeks for a deep dive into soil amendments and fertilizers with Becky Sideman back on the podcast after truly too long an absence. Talk to you soon. And thank you for listening.

Granite State gardening is a production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and equal opportunity educator and deployment. views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the university's its trustees, or its volunteers. inclusion or exclusion of commercial products in this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire County is cooperate to provide expansion programming in the Granite State. Learn more at extension that unh.edu

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