Gardening & Landscaping
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Annuals & Perennials

I've never gardened before, but we recently purchased a home and it needs quite a bit of planting done as they were in the middle of redoing the landscaping when we purchased.  I would like to add some color with flowers.  I've read that many of these plants should be planted in fall to bloom in the spring.  Can I grow them indoors and transplant them in May?  I'm in zone 6a, I've read, and the last frost according to the Farmer's Almanac is in the first week of May.  

 My short version is:  How can I see flowers this year?

 Also, any good sources for new gardeners?  I found a blog called "You Grow Girl" that had a lot of inspiration pics but am looking for additional sources.

 Thanks so much. 

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Re: Annuals & Perennials

  • Basics on flowers: 

    Annuals know they only have one shot at reproduction, so they typically will bloom their little hearts out until frost. The downside is you have to replant them every year (and the upside to that is low-commitment). Some of them you'll need to deadhead if you want to keep them blooming, some will "reseed" at the end of the season, which is good if you don't mind new plants wherever the wind blows them (or transplanting in the spring). And they're generally cheap and some can take less than ideal conditions (a little more shade, some neglectful watering). 

    Perennials are kind of less work once they're established. You don't have to plant new ones every year (although some years you may have to divide or prune), you just enjoy them when they come up. Many can take a little while to get established. Usually you're looking at 3-5 years until they're full-sized. But, many perennials are more drought tolerant (once established!) and offer year-round interest. (Year-round interest = less muddy holes in the ground all winter.)


    Depending on the plant, your local nursery should have some ready to go in the ground in spring. Especially annuals, they will most likely be blooming or about to bloom. 

    The only thing I can think of that needs to be outdoors over winter like that is spring-blooming bulbs. Yes, you've kind missed the boat on that. Sometimes you can find tulips, daffodils, etc blooming in pots for spring, but you pay like 10x as much. I'd just wait until next fall and plant those then. 

    Many perennials will do better if transplanted in early fall because they have time to settle in before the weather cools down or gets scorching. Do you have wet springs where you are? Out here in the PNW you can transplant spring or fall, as long as you aren't having deep freezes or scorching sun. (The other advantage to fall is prices tend to get slashed). 

    If I were looking at a large unfinished landscaping job, I don't know that I'd start a lot of seeds. For me, unless it's something I can't get otherwise or I want lots, I'm better off just picking it up from the nursery. To me, the setup is time-consuming, and frankly frustrating. Personally, I'd focus my energies on drawing a plan, prepping beds and getting stuff in. I'd pick a few things that can I direct-sow (=no need to start indoors) and save more complicated transplanting for next year. I'd google "easy annuals from seed" and put in your state or region and see what I liked. That's my completely subjective opinion though. 


    In terms of guides, that depends on a few things. First is your growing region. Your hardiness zone is important because it tells you if a plant is unlikely to survive your winters. What it doesn't tell you much about is your rainfall, humidity and general weather patterns. For instance, Portland and Austin, Tx have the same zone. Our hipsters might look the same, but our gardens do not, and for good reason. So, first see if you can find any guides you like based on your general region (PNW, SW, NE, etc). If you're on the West coast, I personally like many of the Sunset books. For even more specific info, look up your state extension service, they probably have brochures and growing guides online. 

    The second depends on your gardening style. Do you like the cottage look? Formal? Zen? Pottager?  The ones I like best are almost coffee table books, no real how-to guide or plant list, just a walk-through of various gardens and a little about how the gardeners achieved it. My mom prefers a practical guide with diagrams and plant lists. There's a lot of science-based advice too, one on my reading list is "Decoding Garden Advice". I'd start with your library and check out a few that speak to you. Or browse a bookstore that doesn't mind you thumbing through for a few hours.  

    Really though, once you get started a lot of it falls into place. And it's really rewarding when you see these little seedlings take off and brighten your landscape. 


    "The meek shall inherit the earth" isn't about children. It's about deer. We're all going to get messed the fuckup by a bunch of cloned super-deer.- samfish2bcrab

    Sometimes I wonder if scientists have never seen a sci-fi movie before. "Oh yes, let's create a super species of deer. NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG." I wonder if State Farm offers a Zombie Deer Attack policy. -CaliopeSpidrman
  • Welcome to the nest.  My short reply in contrast to PP's: head to your local library and grab all the books that interest you.  I've found the best gardening info is in print, not online.
  • Wow, thanks for all the information.  I went ahead and copied and pasted it to save to my computer.  I'll check out some books at the library as well.  I found my zone (6) and I'm starting to get an idea of where I want to plant and the feel I'm going for (definitely a cottage-y feel since it goes with the house).  

    I honestly don't know much about the weather here.  We moved across the country to New England.  All I know is we're having an "uncharacteristically warm winter".  The Farmer's Almanac says we're due to have our last frost at the beginning of May though, which from what I read is important to know when planting.  

    I'll look to see if I can find a guide on gardening for this area, that makes a lot of sense.  That will get the ball rolling. 

    Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
  • The nursery business is very seasonal. Plants are sold DURING their bloom time or just prior to their bloom time, because people are just like bees... they are drawn to flowers and ignore everything that isn't blooming. If you visit nurseries in the winter, you won't find much, so don't bother going now. Go shopping when you see things blooming around town and in the nurseries.

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