Good to Grow: Binge watching the garden bloom

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geraniums

Geraniums are a great filler flower in container floral arrangements.

These days everyone is talking about what they are binge watching. Something about a tiger, or a mountain range or a creek. They all sound entertaining, but it got me to thinking about binging and gardening, and blooming plants.

What plants will binge bloom throughout the season, providing the continuous color we crave?

Summer annuals, of course. This is a surefire way to add blooms and color. Do you have a semi-shady spot? If so, take look at impatiens. Often used as a border plant, they can grow 10 inches tall. When planted close together they will grow full, filling in any gaps and creating a lush border.

Impatiens can also be used in containers. Whether you’re planting them in the ground or in a container, make sure they are well-watered. Impatiens don’t like direct sun, and they don’t like dry soil. There are a variety of colors to choose from, making them a versatile shade-loving annual.

When shopping for impatiens you will see different varieties, including New Guinea impatiens. These are different from what I’ll call the common impatiens. New Guineas have a darker leaf and grow taller, up to 12 inches high. Not only do they look different, they require different environments. The New Guinea likes sun — maybe not full sun, but at least 6 hours each day to produce blooms throughout the season. This plant is a nice addition to container gardens.

Let’s not forget the oldies but goodies, such as geraniums. You may remember that I love geraniums. What’s not to love? This hard-working plant produces big blooms over and over again. I switch up the color, but usually stick with red and pink.

To clarify, I’m referring to the annuals, not the perennial cranesbill geraniums. It’s lovely, but not the plant I am describing. Generally, the annuals are used in containers and come in shades of red, coral, pink and white. The blooms are big and must be deadheaded when they die, but it’s easy and quick. This step will also keep your plants looking tidy.

If using geraniums in a container, don’t forget the spiller, filler, thriller formula. I often use geraniums as my part of my filler, and make sure to add height and spillers to my arrangements. Pot them with other plants that like the sun to get the best results.

I think of geraniums as annuals and treat them as such, but my neighbor overwintered her hanging baskets, and to my surprise they have buds this spring. She kept them in the garage. Was it the mild winter, her green thumb or the work of garden fairies that made them survive? Who knows, but they look great.

Marigolds are often overlooked, but they can add a shot of color to any garden border. Easily grown from seeds, these deep golden blooms will last into the fall. There are three common marigolds — the French and Signet, which can be planted anytime throughout the year, and the taller American which should be planted in the spring. All of these work as a nice addition to cut flower bouquets.

How can we talk about annuals and not mention petunias? Available in a rainbow of colors, these flowers work hard. They produce nonstop blooms from spring into early fall. They like sun. Choose a trailing variety and let it spill over your pots or hanging baskets.

I like to deadhead petunias to keep the color fresh. If the vines get leggy, give them a little trim to encourage more blooms.

This is probably the place to mention million bells. They love sun and produce a smaller bloom, but much like the names implies, there seems to be a million blooms on each plant. I love adding them to my window boxes for spiller effect.

I could go on and on — mandevillas, salvias, celosia and so many more. Of course, there are perennials that will give you binge-worthy color, but annuals are a fun, easy and quick way to add a season’s worth of blooms to your containers and gardens.

One more note about binge watching — Although we may not be able to take a physical tour of faraway gardens this year, many are offering virtual tours.

Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England; Singapore Botanic Gardens; Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France; Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Big Island, Hawaii; and New York Botanical Garden in New York City are just a few. A quick internet search will transport you to gardens where you can be awed and inspired to create in your little corner of the world.

Jane Powell is a longtime West Virginia Extension Service Master Gardener through the Kanawha County chapter. She is the communications director for a community foundation and a volunteer with several nonprofits in the community. Find her blog, “Gardening in Pearls,” at gardeninginpearls.com. You can contact her at

janeellenpowell@aol.com.

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