By Michelle Thompson
Gardeners are like artists that use plants as their medium and the landscape as their canvas. Spring provides a new chance to change up the canvas. Inspiration abounds in on-line gardening sites, gardening magazines, seed catalogs or a trip to the plant nursery.
Changing out just a few plants in your garden can give it a fresh updated look. When redesigning or adding plants to a bed keep in mind the mature size of the plant. Young plants are most robust with space to grow that provides optimal sunlight.
After planting perennials give them a full year to get established. Evaluate their growth habit in the second growing season to determine if they are a garden keeper. When designing with color in mind, don’t forget pollinator and native plants. Many are drought tolerant and provide habitats for wildlife that feed on specific plant species.
Some plants that you might want to try are butterfly bush, button bush, coneflower, gaura, lantana, milkweed, Mexican sunflower, pentas, salvia, and zinnia. They also make great cut flowers.
Feel free to integrate flowers into your vegetable garden or vegetables into your flower borders. Vegetables need six hours or more of sun as do many flowering plants. Involve the kids in vegetable gardening. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables that they help grow and harvest.
Match growing requirements of grouped plantings for the healthiest plants. The little identification tags that are in the nursery plant pots contain useful information. The tag gives soil preference, light and moisture requirements, plant height and spread. Plant in containers if you don’t have a designated garden area or want to add a focal point. Larger pots require less frequent watering.
Garden Tasks for Late Spring:
Plant Warm Season Vegetables: Corn, cucumber, eggplant, okra, peppers, spinach, sweet potato, winter squash including pumpkin, cantaloupe and watermelon. Plant perennial herbs and heat tolerant annual herbs like basil.
Birds: Clean bird baths. Hang hummingbird feeders, change the solution every 2-3 days. Make your own solution with 4 parts water with 1 part granulated cane sugar.
Fertilize shrubs, flowers and vegetables with an all-purpose organic fertilizer.
Roses: Deadhead spent blooms. Prune single bloom roses. Spray for black spot with a neem oil solution prepared according to directions.
For additional gardening information check out: Heritage Gardeners Garden Club at Facebook.com/FriendswoodHeritageGardeners and Aggie Horticulture at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu.
Michelle Thompson is a Galveston County Master Gardener and is a member of Heritage Gardeners of Friendswood. She served as President 2018-2020.