Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Planting Flowers in Bloom Is Quick but Costly, Risky

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Planting Flowers in Bloom Is Quick but Costly, Risky

Article excerpt

Buying flowers already in bloom can be an expensive way to achieve quick results in the garden. Even worse, sometimes it doesn't work.

But certain precautions simplify the problems and shave the costs.

First, make sure the time is proper for what you're planting (cool-season or warm-season types).

Second, check that the plants will do well in your climate. Wholesale growers are mass-production specialists, so consult a reference for suitability before selecting, particularly if you are new to a region.

Although many annuals now are bred to withstand transplanting in bloom, they usually will flower faster if existing flowers are pinched off before transplanting.

So look for compact, healthy plants that are just starting to show bud color. That way you can be sure the label's color description is reasonably close, and you avoid much of the transplant shock.

Look also for well-proportioned, uniform plants with stocky stems. Avoid those that are leggy or limp. Leaves should have a rich, green color. If the foliage is mottled or leaf edges curled, pests are likely to be present. If lower leaves are yellow, it could be because the soil mix became too dry. In that case, the root system may be damaged and the plants may never flourish.

Be convinced in your own mind, too, that the retail nursery's staff is familiar with the care of seedlings. Seeing them watering wilted plants is a good tip to go elsewhere.

It's also usually not a good idea to buy plants kept in a sunny spot. The amount of soil mix in small packs can heat up tremendously, damaging the roots.

To cut costs, watch for sales. Many garden centers offer weekly specials. Perhaps what you want will be discounted a week or two later. Be sure to follow selection guidelines.

Seeds, of course, are the most economical way to start flowers. They also provide the most possible choices. …

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