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 Green Thumb Nursery - 319-393-5946 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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Lazy Days of Summer Garden

July 8, 2001

 We have spent the spring planting and working in our gardens and are ready to rest a little and enjoy other summer activities. So while we appreciate "lazy days" we are not happy with a "lazy" landscape or garden. We want beauty, constant bloom and easy care from our plants through the summer. Here are some suggestions to keep your plants working while you vacation from many gardening chores.

MULCH: Mulching your landscape and flower beds with finely shredded bark or KoKo shells is one of the best tools to minimize time spent on watering and weeding. It helps to prevent water evaporation and smother weed seeds. In addition, mulch helps cool the soil by shading the root zone, keeps mud and any soil disease spores from splashing on to foliage, and gives the planting area a “finished professional” appearance. Finely shredded organic mulching material will break down over the season and may be worked back into the soil next spring. Use only a thin layer of mulch around herbaceous plants (annuals, perennials and vegetables) and a thicker (2-3") layer around woody plants.

FERTILIZER: Many plants, especially annual flowers and roses, need regular fertilization to continue producing blooms. We are "sold" on slow release fertilizers, such as Osmocote. One application of Osmocote in the spring feeds plants for up to four months, enough to last through our growing season. Lightly mixing the little fertilizer beads at the soil surface after planting allows a tiny amount of fertilizer to be kicked out and carried down to the roots every time the plant is watered. We see a huge difference on the blooming performance of hanging baskets, patio pots, and rose gardens when this is used. What a great time saver to only have to fertilize once each season!

PLANT SELECTION: Low maintenance plants that have lots of color and bloom power through the summer are every gardener’s dream. Plant varieties that will turn your dreams into reality are available. Our favorites are Flower Carpet roses, Nearly Wild and Knockout roses, buddleia (butterfly bush) and re-blooming daylilies (like Stella D’Oro, Happy Returns and Pardon Me). We have these varieties planted at our garden center and give them very high ratings. In fact, the photos that you see here are pictures of our plant beds.

Roses to many gardeners bring nightmares of constant spraying, pruning and care, but not these varieties! In the spring we prune these shrub roses back almost to ground level, apply Osmocote and mulch. For the rest of the season we only water them and enjoy their great blooms. The red, pink or white Flower Carpet varieties only grow to about 2’ tall, while the pink Nearly Wild and red Knockout will grow to about 3’...the perfect size for planting along sidewalks, foundations, and in flower beds.

The butterfly bush and daylilies get the same care...trim, fertilize and mulch in spring and then water through the summer and fall.

All of these thrive on sun and heat as long as there is ample moisture. They really put on a show of flowers through the summer until frost!

We hope you visit us to see these varieties and the many other plants that we have planted in our display beds. Please allow time to browse through our nursery as we have new plants arriving nearly every week through the summer from our many growers. Bring in leaves from any plants that are causing you problems and ask our staff for advice or tips to help make your gardening easier. We hope your summer is filled with lots of flowers and lazy, happy days!