How to keep summer plants flowering

A colourful garden can lift our spirits and make us feel so much happier. A little regular care and attention throughout the summer will ensure your summer displays look fabulous and continue to give months of pleasure throughout the summer and well into autumn.

Most of our summer colour comes from the brilliant displays of summer bedding plants, but summer-flowering bulbs - especially dahlias and begonias - and roses all have the potential to flower their heads off for months on end. Checking these plants regularly and giving them some TLC will ensure their displays continue well into autumn. The three things that you need to check are watering, feeding and deadheading. A quick 10-15 minute check every day or so is all that’s needed.

Watering summer plants

Water summer flowers regularly to prolong flowering

Plants growing in beds and borders may not need any watering, depending on the weather. But if they do, a thorough watering once a week is far better than giving them a quick ‘splash’ every day. The aim should always be to get the water deep down into the soil where the roots can use it - rather than have it sitting on the soil surface.

Plants growing in containers are another matter all together. Even if it rains, it may not be enough to supply all the water they need. The aim should be to keep the compost evenly moist, not allowing it to dry out and then overwatering it. This is the easiest way to ruin the display and even damage or kill the plants. Check the compost to see if it’s moist or not (you can easily do this by inserting your finger to feel if it’s dry) before watering.

Hanging baskets are always the first to dry out, especially if they are in a windy position, and may need daily watering to keep the compost moist.

Feeding summer plants

Controlled-release plant food

Summer-flowering plants need a regular diet of nutrients to keep them flowering. If you used a controlled-release fertiliser at planting up time, you may not need to feed further, but always check in case some additional nutrients are needed.

If you didn’t use a controlled-release feed, then you will need to feed with a liquid fertiliser every 10 to 14 days to provide all the food needed for continuous flowering.

Roses and flowering shrubs are best fed with a specific rose fertiliser. Although lime-hating rhododendrons, camellias and other ericaceous plants are best fed with a specific fertiliser that contains all the nutrients these plants need to grow strong and healthy and flower profusely.

Deadheading flowers

Deadheading flowers

Plants only flower for one reason: to produce seeds. If you remove the developing seed heads/seed pods from plants that can repeat flower or flower continuously, then they have to flower again to produce those seeds. Regular deadheading ensures they just keep on flowering and flowering…

Just remember that you have to remove the seed head/seed pod (which forms just behind the fading flower) not just the flower itself.

So, keep an eye on your summer plants and reward them with water, food and deadheading, and they’ll reward you with beautiful blooms until the weather turns frosty and autumn. It’s a reward worth working for!

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