We love email questions from our customers! Customer LJT has the following question:
"After the residuals from the hurricanes produced a stretch of wind and rain, we found that our dahlias, hardy hibiscus (both at least six feet high) and taller perennials looked ragged and scraggly. Many of the plants had bent over and some of the stocks even broke under the weight of the flowers. While this has occurred in the past, it has never been to this extent (frequency). Could we have pruned these plants earlier (in the spring) to make them smaller and more compact without affecting the flowers? If so, when is this this best done?"
Our answer: "Generally speaking the best time to prune is right after a plant flowers but these plants make that generalization a little trickier.
The answer might not be pruning but staking.
The hibiscus is a late "comer" and pruning during the season would only further delay the flowers or if you pruned in the middle of the summer that would probably mean NO FLOWERS. I guess you could have pruned it sometime in early June for more branching...I have the rose hibiscus too that also fell over in the wind and the rain and I am going to stake it next year; staking is probably a better solution for the hibiscus and the dahlias.
For your other perennials, in most cases you can do a small pruning after they flower OR completely prune out dead and dying growth. I am not sure what the perennial varieties are that you cite but certainly if they "are going by" for the season they can be pruned!"
Rose of Raymond checks in with some great picture of some roses (obtained right here at Skillin's) that she grew this year in the wilds of Raymond ME. Have you heard the saying? "If Rose can grow roses in Raymond then you can grow them anywhere!". Well, its' true. Rose loves roses and she says they grow best for her when planted in plenty of organic matter. Rose is a big compost fan--the more organic matter your roses are growing in the deeper the roots and the more likely the roses will survive our harsh winters!
Barbara Gardener kicks off this post with a lovely picture of a window box planting still going strong--some very "showy" impatiens combined with the durable but always striking bacopa. I think of bacopa as something like the Katherine Hepburn of flowering plants--tough as nails and always darned good looking. That's my take on bacopa!
I believe that Barbara is a faithful user of osmocote--a very effective time released fertilzer that is very effective for container plantings. But I will have to confirm that with her!
By this point most window boxes and other container plantings are just chock full of roots. This many roots will dry out any soil very quickly so try and check your containers on a daily basis. If they are dry give them a thorough and slow watering until that water is just gushing out of the drainage holes.
To perform this well, containers need much fertilizer through the growing season. I recommend the all natural Plant Tabs from Organica (these tablets have given my containers great results this year!).