Deadheading and Fertilizing Annuals
Deadheading, or removing spent blooms, increases the production of new blooms. By this time of year (mid-August), warm season annuals can look a little leggy and worn out. Deadheading gives them a fresh look. This is also true about re-blooming perennials and shrubs such as Knock Out Roses. Trim spent bloom off just above a node. A node is where leaves meet stems. Cutting above a node will allow the plant to fill out natural. If just the spent bloom is cut off, leaving a visible empty stem, the plant can still look messy and won’t fill in well.
Sterilize your cutting tools by dipping them in a 50% water, 50% bleach solution. We suggest watering your plants thoroughly before deadheading; remember that the plant will lose moisture from each cut. If the plant is already water stressed, trimming can worsen plant stress.
Fertilizing Your Annuals
Another way to extend the bloom season of annuals is to fertilize them. Our favorite product is BR 61; it provides a ton of flower power! Each fertilizer has a set of three numbers listed. This is the percent by weight of three main nutrients, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Each of these nutrients does something a little different for a plant; the middle number, indicating percent of Phosphorus, promotes the development of blooms. Therefore, bloom boosting fertilizers generally have a higher middle number than they do Nitrogen, which promotes leaf and stem growth, or Potassium, which increases drought and disease tolerance among other things.
BR 61 has a formulation of 9-58-8; that is a lot of flower power in one products! It’s water soluble, just mix the powder with water and apply. As with all fast-acting water soluble fertilizers, apply when the plants are not in full, hot sun and when they are not water stressed. Doing either of these things could cause the foliage to burn.