- Author: Nancy Forrest
With summer just around the corner thought I'd share some of the summer tasks needed for a cut flower garden. When I got rid of my front lawn a few years ago, I added rocks, and a small flower garden area. My goal was to bring a bit of color to the front yard, and have fresh flowers in vases around the house. I just didn't realize all the work that it takes to maintain it; watering, staking, weeding, pinching, deadheading and pest control.
First and foremost during the summer months keep the garden hydrated, this can be done by watering by hand, a drip system or soaker hoses. Flowing plants require regular watering of at least 1 inch per week to maintain a good healthy and steady growth.
I didn't realize they also require a support system which is key in growing long straight stems and avoiding weather damage. There four recommended methods are based on the type of plant for staking. Corralling is used when you have an entire bed of tall plants (such as cosmos). Post a stake on the four corners of the bed and then tie a string around to keep them from falling over. Netting is used for plants that have a lot of branching stems (such as black eyed Susan) basically you put stakes down and a netting attached above the stakes, this way they grow right up through the netting. For large plants (like dahlias) that need extra support, each plant gets its own stake, which you loosely tie the stems to with twine or string. Trellising also used for climbers (like sweet peas) you can buy decorative ones or make your own.
My least favorite and most time consuming task is weeding. This must be done on a regular basis, possibly daily. Try to catch the weeds before they mature, a good way to accomplish this is use a collinear hoe and lightly work the soil around the plants. What I learned recently is that in order to have an abundance of flowers on annuals (snapdragons, cosmos etc.…) I have to cut back the growth of young plants. It's a technique called pinching, which increases the plant to produce more branches thereby increasing the number of flowering stems. In order to keep your flowers at their peak you have to harvest (i.e. pick them) and deadhead (prune off spent flowers), cut off anything on the plant that is damaged.
Managing pests and disease is utmost for any type of garden especially cut flower gardens. It's heartbreaking when you go to pick flowers for an arrangement to see them damaged by bugs, or covered in spots or powdery mildew. To avoid this be sure to water, weed, and check for bugs and diseases regularly. Remove sickly plants at once and do not place in compost pile. The Master Gardeners of Solano County has plenty of information regarding pest management and can help you identify and treat problems that are common to our area. So check out our website http://solanomg.ucanr.edu, drop us a line email@example.com or give us a call 707-784-1322.