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Category Archives: Garden

Steps to Grow Shining Azaleas Indoors

A deciduous and evergreen flowering plant, azaleas bloom during spring. Mostly found in damp mountainous spots, the flowers usually die only after a few weeks of life. As too much of sunlight is not an issue for these plants, growing them inside your home will require some special techniques.

Step #1: Purchase plants from a nursery that have a few blooms or buds. Make sure the color of the leaves is dark green leaves.

Step #2: Keep the plants in the porch or on a windowsill as this will provide them with maximum sunlight during the day; however, make sure the area has a shade as the plants require partial sunlight. But do make sure that the temperature in these areas is always between 55―60ºF. Growing the plants in controlled temperature will prolong blooming throughout the season, as compared to just a month.

Step #3: Keep the soil moist during the day. The soil should feel damp when you touch it, and not soaked completely. Do not drown the plants in water. If the flowers haven’t bloomed yet, use a spray bottle filled with water to clean the leaves at least once a day. You can use tap water to mist and water the plants. If you live in an area where you get alkaline water, add a tablespoon of vinegar to a gallon of water while watering, and not misting the plants.

Step #4: Always make sure to remove any dead or damaged flowers and leaves off the plants. Pluck them out and discard the deadheaded blooms as well. Also remove the dead flowers that may have fallen down in the dirt.

Step #5: Purchase an acidic houseplant fertilizer and use it on the flowers once a month. The bag should either say “acidic” on it, or should contain sulfur in it. The only time you will use the fertilizer is when the flowers have died, and not when the plants have proper blooms.

Step #6: Once the plants grow in number, repot them during late summer or early fall. Most azaleas need repotting every 2 to 3 years in bigger clay pots. For repotting, add peat-based potting soil in the new clay pot and then transfer the plant along with the root system. The correct way is by holding it from its base and gently tipping the old pot upside down. This way the plant will slide out of the pot with ease and can be replaced in the new pot immediately. You will need to use potting soil to cover the roots.

Tips for Indoor Planting

When you think about an indoor garden, you need to ensure that you take into consideration all possible points before actually starting it. First, you need to decide what kind of plants you’ll be planting. Then you need to pick a good location. If the plants that you’re planning to plant need sunshine, then you’ll obviously have to pick a spot near the window where they are exposed to sunlight. If they need shade, then you can have them under the window sill, where they are protected from the sun. Next, you need to make sure that the area is properly cordoned off. Nothing from the inside of the garden gets out, and nothing from the outside goes inside. This way, your garden remains clean and so does the rest of the home. The next thing you need to take care of is proper drainage of the water. All plants need water. So you have to make sure that the water that seeps out gets properly drained and does not mess up the entire room. Given below are some ideas that you may want to try out.

Herb Garden
Nothing looks prettier in the interior of a home than a herb garden. The lush green herbs, together with their tantalizing aroma all mixed together in the air, render a sense of peace and exquisite ‘flavor’ to the house. If you don’t want them on the ground, you can have them in hanging garden planters all around a room. Your options for herbs can be coriander, thyme, mint, etc.

Flower Garden
Nothing says garden better than flowers. And if you don’t have the space for a full-fledged landscape, you can have your own little miniature flower garden inside your home. Pick one flower that blooms in different colors. Roses, gerbera daisies, and orchids are good options but tulips definitely take the cake in indoor flower gardening. They look stunning, especially when they bloom against a wall in a contrasting color.

Vegetable Garden
Another popular idea is a vegetable garden. It is practical and very useful. While most of it will be container gardening, if you have a balcony, you can allot a corner and plant the vegetables directly into the ground too. Chillies and tomatoes are very good options. Avoid roots and tubers for indoor vegetable gardens as they could get quite messy.

Cactus Garden
An unconventional yet fabulous idea for an indoor garden is a cactus garden. Go to your local nursery and get different varieties of cactus plants. The best part of this idea is that since cactus plants are really hardy, you do not have to bother about watering and taking too much care of them. They do that for themselves.

Indoor gardening can bring a sense of peace and calm to your home. It beautifies your home and makes it appear more friendly and relaxed. So, get started on one for your home right away.

Forcing Bulbs to Grow Indoors

If you’re unaware of what this process means, let me make it a bit more clearer. As the name suggests, forcing bulbs indoors means you are creating a suitable environment for the flowers to grow inside the house. Whether you’re planning on growing tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, snowdrops, muscari (grape hyacinths), chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-snow), or other types of bulbs, the basic growing steps will be somewhat the same.

Planting Bulbs in the Right Months
As we will be attempting to grow the bulbs outside their natural, normal growing cycle, you need to pay close attention to ‘when’ is the right time to plant the bulbs. Visit your local home garden center to pick up fresh and healthy bulbs for forcing. You can even ask necessary questions about forcing specific bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, or even daffodils, indoors. This way, you will have more knowledge as to how a particular bulb is grown indoors; perhaps you require a special kit, which includes pots, bulbs, and detailed instructions.

So your next question would be, ‘When should I start forcing the bulbs in order to enjoy them during the chilly months?’ Now, if you want these bulbs to bloom during the month of December, then start forcing them in the beginning of August. If you want the bulbs to bloom during the month of January and February, then start forcing them in the beginning of September and October, respectively. Now this calculation will vary depending on which type of bulb you are growing.

Choosing the Right Technique to Force Bulbs
It might come as a surprise, but growing bulbs indoors has more than one method. You can choose the old-fashioned method of potting the bulbs in the soil, try your hand at water forcing, or force them in pebbles and water. Take a look at the 3 different techniques to grow the bulbs inside the house, months earlier than they are supposed to grow outdoors.

Soil Forcing

  • This is the most common method used to force bulbs to grow indoors. Use a plastic pot instead of a clay pot, because when you add water to the latter, it dries out faster than the plastic pot. Plus, plastic pots weigh less and are inexpensive.
  • Add potting mix in with the bulbs. Depending on the size of the pot, you can add 3 – 5 bulbs at a time. Just make sure to pot them at an even distance so they don’t hinder each other’s growth.
  • The amount of potting mix to be added into each pot is about ⅔ full. After you’ve placed the bulbs in, fill the pot with more soil. The top of the bulb can remain exposed or covered (your choice).
  • For the next 2 months, we need to keep the pots buried outside in the garden. After this period, the bulbs will be ready for forcing indoors. Find an appropriate location to keep them where the temperature stays between 50ºF to 60ºF.
  • If the temperature goes higher than this, the leaves will grow too big for being indoors. After you begin to see the stalks of flowers, you can keep the bulbs in warm temperature.

Water Forcing

  • Apart from potting bulbs in the soil, you can even force them in water. To follow this technique, you require a hyacinth glass / vase which has a wide bottom and a tapered neck.
  • Fill the glass with water till the neck, and place the bulb on the wide opening of the glass. Here, you need to be very careful that the bulb doesn’t touch the water from the bottom.
  • So make sure there is at least ⅛” of gap between the bottom of the bulb and the water surface. Place the hyacinth glass in a cool, dark place, where it doesn’t get any sunlight.
  • Let the bulb stay there for approximately 4 – 5 weeks. After this time has passed, you can bring the bulb inside and begin to force it furthermore. What this water forcing technique does is help develop the root of the bulb to grow properly.

Water & Pebbles Forcing

  • Finally, you can try growing bulbs indoors with the water and pebbles method. For this, make sure the glass bowl that you use has no cracks, because no water should leak out.
  • As for including pebbles, you can use colorful stones and gravel for decoration. The different colors of pebbles makes the entire plantation very attractive.
  • While potting the bulbs, make sure that the bottom of the bulbs are properly secured inside the stones, as you don’t want them to move about inside. Add water into the glass bowl and stop before it touches the bottom of the bulbs.
  • This way, when the roots begin to grow, they will do so inside the water. And that’s what our goal is; to grow the roots in the water but not let the bottom of the bulbs touch it.
  • For the next 4 – 6 weeks, keep the bowl in an area where there’s no sunlight at all, preferably in the dark. After this time, you can keep the bowl in warm temperature which will force the flowers to bloom.

Way to Keep Cats Out of Flower Beds

Cats are usually quite free-spirited, wanting to roam around the world, without hindrance. Since they are pretty agile and can seem to jump over or squeeze into anything, they usually manage to get into your home territory quite easily. However, there are a list of commercial as well as homemade cat deterrents, that seem to work effectively in keeping them away from your flowerbeds.

1: Before you can implement any steps to stop the cat from ruining your precious flowerbeds, it is advisable to talk to the owner of the cat and know if it is domesticated. However, if you are that unfortunate a cat owner, it is recommended that you look into options like cat proofing your garden or building cat enclosures. Believe me, it will not only make your neighbors happy, but your cat will be safe as well. Building a toilet area for your cat, like a sand pit, is a great idea.

2: There are many commercial cat deterrents available in the market. Most of these chemicals contain the active ingredient, methyl nonyl ketone, which should not be used near food crops. Any of these can be used to protect your flowerbeds.

3: This is one method that I am sure will work, even if for a limited time. As soon as you see the cats near your flowerbeds, just squirt some water on them. Since cats HATE water, they will probably just get flustered and not come back again. There are certain motion-activated sprinklers, that use infrared to detect the animal and shoot a jet of water on it. If the cat belongs to someone you know, it is advisable that you tell them of the plan and assure them that you will not hurt the cat. This method is, however, severely limited by the fact that some weird cats might actually think you are playing with them!

4: A great way to keep the cats off the flowerbeds, is by spreading peels of lemon, orange, or grapefruit on it. For some reason, cats seem to have a developed distaste for citrus smells. Drops of citrus oil or coffee grounds also seem to do the job just as well.

5: By installing a fine garden netting over the soil in the flowerbed, you can ascertain that the cat does not dig away the soil. Placing it an inch or two above the flowerbed ensures that they are not walking on it either. You can also try spreading pine cones, by adding it to the mulch on the flowerbeds. Since cat paws are sensitive, they would usually avoid such places. Alternately, you can cover the ground with rough-surfaced rocks or use the branches of a thorny plant.

6: Most gardeners around the world have the ‘perfect plant solution’ and it involves planting certain plants in the garden that repel cats. Marigolds are a great option in this case. Not only do they look good and are fairly easy to grow, but they also possess a scent that keeps cats away from the flowerbeds. Plants such as geranium, pennyroyal, rue, lavender, garlic, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, and other strongly scented plants are also unpleasant to cats. A weed originating in Europe, known as ‘coleus canina’, deters the presence of cats, by emitting an odor offensive to them (but not to humans).

7: High frequency sounds emitted by ultrasonic devices usually send the cat running, while causing no distress to your ears.

Flower Garden Layout Design Ideas

Laying a flower garden requires some forethought, your creativity, and basic gardening skills. But, you don’t need a degree in landscape designing to proceed with the same. While planning a flower garden layout, certain criteria should be considered like location, yard space, adding flower beds, finalizing flowering plants, and design tips. And to make your project simpler, make a rough sketch of the layout including the plant placement and color pattern.

Decide on the Location

The actual garden layout and the flower varieties to be planted depend on where the area is located. A sunny yard with fertile and well-drained soil is excellent for maintaining a garden. While any piece of land can be made into a beautiful flower garden with some effort, it is better to grow flowers in a suitable area. If possible, try to avoid a shady and damp location. For a shaded garden, the flower options are limited. In fact, colorful blooms look more vibrant in a sunlit garden.

Layout of a flower garden largely depends on how big is the area. So, yard space and total area of the flower beds should be considered first. Later, you can decide the plant types and their position in the garden, based on their height, flowering time, and color.
You can also add trellis, stone paths, and alike garden components. What about including a garden pond with colorful fish and water lilies? Depending upon your personal preferences, finalize the color scheme and flower cultivars.

Designs for Flower Beds

The flower beds should be wide enough (about 5-7 feet) so that you can have better planting options. Each bed can be demarcated from the other by straight or curved lines (as per your choice).
A formal garden looks elegant with straight lines. But, if you want something out of the box, select five types of varied colored flowers that bloom at the same time. Plant them in a five-petaled flower shape, with each flower variety representing a petal. Believe me, this pattern looks awesome in a home garden.

Why Choose Annual Flowers?

Annuals complete their life cycle in one season, i.e., they grow, flower, bear seeds, and die in the same season. They are most preferred for planting in bedding schemes, rather than growing at the borders. You can create a different flower bed in each season by planting annuals. Another advantage of selecting annual flowers is that they are available in a wide range of colors.

Some of the best choices are geraniums, spider flowers, Brazilian verbena, and daisies. You can design a color scheme by planting different annual flowers in the same bed. While doing so, make sure that the plants in one flower bed bloom at the same time. Annual flowers also serve as great space fillers before the perennials start blooming.

Biennial and Perennial Plants

Biennials develop their leaves in the first season and bloom in the next season. Then they shed their seeds and die. They are best planted at the borders and the hedges along with perennials. The most preferred biennials for flower gardens are foxgloves and hollyhocks. Perennial flowers are long-living plants, which bloom for a short duration (about 3-4 weeks) in each season. You can select perennials that flower at different times, so as to make the flower garden look lively. This way, there will be blooms in the garden throughout the year, irrespective of the season.

Other flowering plants include bulbs and climbing vines. Bulbs are very easy to grow and maintain in the garden. They flower in one season, remain dormant for a while, and again flower in the next season. Some of the stunning bulbous plants are tulips, daffodils, amaryllis, and snowdrops. If there are trellises, you can give a different look to your garden by growing climbing vines. Flowering vines like morning glory and hyacinth bean can be planted based on the color scheme of the surrounding area.

Garden with a Lawn

This idea is for a large sized garden, where you have sufficient room to incorporate a green patch. For lawns, ornamental grasses are maintained for enjoying greenery in all seasons. Once planted, they continue to grow for many years, provided that proper care tips are adopted. In short, a lawn requires less maintenance than a flower bed.
For people who have limited time for garden care, a lawn garden adorned with ground cover and flower beds is a perfect option. You can also include evergreen shrubs on the lawn boundary.

You may consider using containers and/or raised beds in the center of the lawn or in the borders. Fill the empty space with potted plants and your garden will definitely look complete. If interested, try experimenting theme-based flower garden design ideas. You can focus on a particular theme, like a butterfly garden, rose garden, summer garden, and proceed accordingly.

Flower Bed Design Ideas

Before you start making flower beds, first decide on the kind of flower garden you want. Do you want a modern garden with clean structured design or a free-flowing country-style garden. If you live in a cottage or ranch, a country-style garden will look great. For a country-style garden, the flower bed designs can be more free-flowing and unstructured. Flower bed designs are basically of two types; flower bed borders and island flower beds.

Island Flower Beds: For island flower beds, the flower beds are individual beds which are planted in isolation with single colored blooms or different flowers of the same color. They are the main attraction of a garden and when done right can look quite stunning. Island flower bed designs are always done in a series of three or more flower beds for harmony and structure. The flower beds can be rectangular, round or oval-shaped.

Flower Bed Borders: Border flower beds as the name suggests are flower beds in which flowers are planted as borders for driveways and along the edges of the house. These flower bed borders are also planted along the perimeter of the fence where the fresh blooms soften up the look of a wooden or metal fence.

Tips for Designing a Flower Bed
Flower beds enhance the curb appeal of your home and makes your garden look lush and lovely. To create a visual impact with your garden, here are a few tips.

• When you decide on the kind of flower bed design you want for your garden, an important consideration that you cannot overlook is the kind of flowers that you are going to plant. The flowers that you choose to plant should bloom at the same time of the year for best results.

• There should be a harmony of colors, forms and textures of the flowers or your garden will not look good. You can either choose a cool color palette or a warm color palette while choosing the flower colors.

• If you are going for a warm color palette then red, orange and yellow looks quite enticing and these colors also work well together. They complement each other and are harmonious. If you are going for cool colors for flower bed then try a mix of lavender, green and blue colored blooms for the flower bed design.

• Combining small flowers with very large ones does not work well in a flower bed. As far as possible opt for flowers that are of similar size and form.

• Having said that, there are no hard and fast rules in flower bed designs, and you can certainly try planting flowers in contrasting colors as well as flowers of different sizes. Petunias and Geraniums are some good flowers that you can plant in your flower bed.

• If you are looking for raised flower bed ideas then a good idea is to go for different heights in flowers. Raised flower beds give you the flexibility to have flowering plants with different heights and this gives the garden more interest.

These were some ideas for flower bed designs. A well planned and well executed flower bed design and flower garden layout can enhance the beauty of your landscaping project and give your garden a natural look. Flowers like hydrangea, crocus, lavender, roses, geranium, heather, iris, amaryllis, gladiolus and begonia are ideal for small flower beds as they give the best results. Whether you incorporate flower bed designs in the form of borders or islands, they can add beauty and elegance to your garden.

How to Plant Allium Bulbs

The onion genus, Allium. has more than 600-750 species plus and still counting within its genera in the Alliaceae family. It is a perennial bulbous plant with members like onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, chives, etc. Although it is mostly regarded as a vegetable or a herb crop, there are a few species grown for large bright colored flowers, too. This article is about these species. Native to the Northern hemisphere, mainly in Asia, ornamental flowering Alliums can be grown in most suitable regions around the world.

It is very difficult to describe this species, as each varies in height (about 5 to 150 cm), growth habits, with foliage that can either be long and narrow or slightly curled up. The only thing common is the flower. However, the flowers on each species may vary in color and stalk density. They form an umbel at the top of a leafless flowering stem known as scapes mostly shooting from the base. It is amazing to watch an inflorescence umbel flower, with the outside flowers blooming first and progressing to the inside.

Although, all alliums bear flowers, it’s species and hybrids such as Allium pulchellum, Allium senescens, Allium oreophilum, Allium caeruleum, Allium cowanii, Allium nigrum, Allium karataviense, Allium unifolium, Allium siculum, Allium hollandicum, Allium Firmament, Allium Globe Master, Allium schubertii, Allium rosenbachianum, etc., are the ones that have a high ornamental value and can be easily found in most plant nursery stores.

Plantation

Sometimes called ‘flowering onions’, these can be propagated through bulbs as well as seeds, with the former being more preferable, as they take long to seed and have a higher failure rate. They look better when mass planted in flower beds, borders, and edgings than in pots. You should ideally plant the bulbs around late fall or early spring.

Prepare flower beds by digging deep in the soil. Apply bulb fertilizer or organic compost such as bone meal, peat moss, well rotted manure, etc. Make sure you choose a sunny spot or at least one that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday. Plant the bulbs four inches deep in groups of 4-5 bulbs spaced about six inches apart, leaving the tip lightly covered in soil. Water adequately. Mulch heavily with dried barks if there is fear of extreme frost and snowfall. The tall varieties can be stalked as it gets heavy during a full bloom. Allium bulbs flower mid-summer through late summer and in certain conditions, even in early fall.

These bulbs do not need much feeding, a single application when the flower buds begin to appear should suffice. There aren’t many pests that attack onion, the pungent smell of onion bulb mostly keeps away troublemakers. However, a few diseases like damping off, botrytis, onion smut, or downy mildew can damage the plant. But they can all be taken care of with effective and timely pesticide applications. It is recommended that the bulbs be left undistributed in the ground, and divided every 3-4 years.

Good quality allium bulbs will grow into healthy plants and flowers. For using them as cut flowers, cut no more than ¾ flower stalk. Grow them and enjoy their company.

Planting Guide Daylilies

Planting: Choose an area in your garden that receives sunlight for at least 5 to 6 hours everyday. Next, remove the roots of unwanted plants that may be present in the soil earlier. Dig out a hole in the ground that is a little bigger and wider, so that the roots can easily sit in. Mix the fertilizers in the soil. Place your plant in the hole, gather the soil around it and then, water the plant.

Soil: Daylilies grow best in soil that is well drained with a pH between 6.5 to 7, but they are so adaptable that they can actually grow in soil containing any pH. They will also grow in sandy soil as well as heavy clay soil. If your garden has heavy clay soil, you can add manure, peat moss, good compost, gypsum, etc., to make it suitable for your flowers. Adding compost or another organic material to the soil increases its nutrition value. If there is a drainage problem, raising the beds is the easiest option available.

Water: These plants grow best in early spring. But if you buy them in other seasons, save them from drought. Watering will ensure big and bright blooms. Water sufficiently in spring, and also in summer, which will help boost their growth. These plants are capable of withstanding drought, but obviously less water is going to make them dry off and wither away. Pour water up to an inch every week so that the soil soaks it up at a greater depth.

Fertilizers: If you want to know what exact nutrients your soil needs, get a soil analysis done. The soil should be fertilized every two to three weeks after plantation. If you are using chemical fertilizers, doing this twice a year is sufficient. Chemical fertilizers should be added in early spring. Mulching is one of the best ways to make the soil more fertile.

Insects: Insects such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, snails, and slugs feed on the blooming flowers and buds. These can be killed by spraying some insecticide or by simply watering with force. These insects cause discoloration and holes in the leaves. Although the insects may do minor damage to these plants, it might be difficult to tell the exact cause of any disease. Hence, it is better to consult an agricultural agent, or a local nursery.

Controlling the growth of weeds: It is very important that the weeds growing around this plant should be removed, as these weeds absorb the nutrition that is given to them.

How to Care for Ranunculus Plants

If you are interested in larger blooms, then choose the Tecolote or Jumbo ranunculus bulbs. For cool climatic regions (zones 4-7), it is best to grow ranunculus indoors, about 3 months before the last frosting. Select healthy bulbs and plant in large pots (preferably 6 inches in diameter) about 1 inch below the soil, with the root tips pointing down. For growing it in warmer areas (zones 8 and above), ranunculus bulbs are planted directly in outdoor garden beds in spring, with a spacing of 4-6 inches between them.

  • Hoping that you have grown ranunculus plants in sunlit areas and soil with no drainage problems, they will grow luxuriantly. Indoor ranunculus care involves placing the potted plants in bright light, or in the windowsill.
  • If the indoor plants lack vigor or appear weak, perhaps it is because of insufficient light. For such a case, consider installing artificial lights to restore normal growth. Make sure they are placed near to the west or south facing windows.
  • Coming to the temperature part, it withstands 10-20°F, and not below this range. Accordingly, make the necessary arrangements to protect ranunculus plants from heavy frosting. For container plants, you can bring them indoors.
  • The most crucial part in ranunculus care is watering. Yes, keeping the soil moist but not wet is the trick to grow healthy ranunculus plants. Too less moisture and they will wither away, while overwatering increases root rotting.
  • Ranunculus cannot tolerate heavy fertilization. Of course, they do require fertile soil and nutrients for producing maximum flower buds. You can use correct doses of bulb fertilizer during the active growth season and just before the blooming period.
  • After bloom care for ranunculus plants is the same as before. Do not remove the leaves, instead retain them as they are. The foliage synthesizes food and prepares the plants for next year’s flower production. Continue watering to promote photosynthesis.
  • After the flowering season is completed, i.e., in summer, the leaves will become yellow. This indicates that the plants are entering dormancy period. At this phase, remove the drying leaves and keep the bulbs undisturbed. They will sprout during favorable weather conditions.
  • In case ranunculus is subjected to stressful conditions, it becomes weak, and disease and pest infestations are most likely to occur. The common ranunculus problems include infestations of powdery mildew, rust, aphids, spider mites and snails.

The fall planted ranunculus blooms in spring time, while those planted in spring produce copious blooms in June and July. You can collect the long stemmed ranunculus blooms for making flower bouquets, and also for beautifying home indoors and offices. The ranunculus flowering season lasts for 1½ months, and the plants look awesome during this period. Many people prefer removing the spent blooms to conserve moisture and nutrients for the developing flower buds.

Growing Dianthus Care

If you wish to grow this beautiful flowering plant in your garden, you need to consider several aspects such as the selection of the site, quality of the soil, mulching, watering and fertilizing. Scroll down to find dianthus care instructions. These will surely come in handy if you are planning to grow this flowering plant.

Selection of the Planting Site

This plant will grow well at a place where they receive ample sunshine. These should not be planted at a site where sunlight may be blocked by trees or any structure. These must receive at least 4-5 hours of sunshine. Damp environment can curb the growth of the plant and increase the risk of diseases, so make sure that the place is airy. Don’t place them very close to other plants, especially fast-growing plants.

Soil

If you want your plant to thrive and grow fast, make sure that the soil is fertile and well-drained. The soil should be slightly alkaline with a pH of 6.75. Though this flowering plant may grow well in well-drained sandy soil, it would be best to add rotted leaves, compost, pine needles or other materials that may help it retain moisture as well as nutrients. You can add a two inch layer of compost and manure on the surface of the soil. Use a shovel to mix it in the soil.

Planting

You could grow it by sowing seeds or transplanting. Some of the perennial flower varieties can be grown by tip cuttings, layering or division. Seeds can be sown in the spring season. You could also sow them in your garden in early summer. Sow the seeds about 1/8 inch deep in the soil. The soil should be well-drained and the planting site should receive a lot of sun. Cover the seed with soil and water the plant to moisten the soil.

Watering

Though these plants are hardy, these do not like excessive humidity. You may water it from time to time during dry summer. It would be best to water it in the morning. Do test the soil for moisture during the summer season. Water it if the surface looks dry. Insert a finger to see if the soil is moist. Don’t water if the compost seems to be moist. Excessive watering can cause root rot. It can also cause yellowing of the foliage. You will not need to water the plant very often during the winter season.

Fertilizing

Well-rotted manure must be used at the time of planting. A balanced fertilizer which has nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in equal ratios should be used to enrich the soil. You also need to replenish the soil with fertilizer during the bloom season. Use a fertilizer that is rich in potassium to encourage prolific flowering. This will strengthen the stems and the blooms will be brighter and prettier.

Disbudding and Pruning

When you see about eight or nine pairs of leaves in the plant, pinch off the growing tip. This will enable the growth of side shoots and new flowering stems. Pinching the shoots will certainly encourage prolific flowering. If you ignore this aspect, the number of blooms would be lesser. If you are keen on getting bigger blooms rather than getting many blooms, remove the surplus buds from the plant. Get rid of the thin side stalks frequently. This will allow just the crown bud to develop on each flowering stem. You should prune and cut foliage in every spring. Most of the spent or faded blooms should be removed, but you could leave a few spent flowers if you want them to produce the seed.