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Answers to commonly asked gardening questions from our experts:
Q. What can I grow that will bloom all summer long?
Answer: All varieties of annuals will bloom for the whole summer. Some great options are petunias, portulaca (moss rose), vinca, salvia or marigolds for sun or impatiens in the shade or wax begonia for shade or sun. Perennials, in contrast, typically have a 3-6 week bloom period.
Q. What is a good plant to attract hummingbirds to my garden?
Answer: Hummingbirds typically like flower with long throats. They have less competition for nectar with these. They also favor red flowers, but also like blues and pinks. Salvias are a great option; either perennial or annual will work with perennial coming back year after year, but not blooming for as long as annuals, which bloom all summer long. Other annuals include fuchsia, nicotiana, petunias and snapdragons. For perennial options try hosta, columbine, campanula, delphinium, foxglove, monarda and veronica.
Q. What about butterflies?
Answer: For annuals try verbena, alyssum, lantana, parsley, dill and fennel. Perennial options include Echinacea, achillea (yarrow), monarda and scabiosa.
Q. What can I plant in the shade?
Answer: Impatiens! These are the best color plant for shade. If you are looking for something different you can try coleus, begonias (especially tuberous varieties like non-stop), fuchsia or bacopa. If you are looking for perennials the best options are hosta, heuchera or astilbe for deep shade. In lighter shade you can also try foxglove and columbine.
Q. How many plants will I need to fill a 12” container?
Answer: Typically a 12" pot needs 3-7 plants. If you are using items that come in a 4-pack you will likely need more than if you are using premium varieties like Wave Petunias or Proven Winners, which 3 plants can fill this size container.
Q. I have never grown a garden before what plants should I start out with?
Answer: Lettuce is a great container item. You can either plant plants of grow it from seed for easy access when you are making your favorite sandwich. Peppers also work well in containers. If you are looking for a tomato find a variety that is determinate (find this on the label or tag). Good options are ones that have bush in the name like Bush Early Girl, Bush Champion or Window Box Roma. Remember when growing in containers you will need to water frequently (daily in most cases) and fertilize regularly. For tomatoes an added trick is to put an eggshell in the soil to prevent blossom end rot and add a banana peel for extra potash, which will improve the flavor of your fruit.
Q. What can I do to protect my plants from the cold?
Answer: Seed starting kits with a plastic cover work for small scale gardeners. If you garden more a small personal greenhouse is a great investment. Small ones can measure 1 foot by 2 feet and 5 feet tall. Despite their small stature these can be a big boost in early spring.