Cultivating Flowers :

Flower gardening at home demands a considerable amount of time, enthusiasm, endurance and constancy in gardening from people. But if the love for breeding Flowers is there for genuine, then gardening becomes as natural as breathing to a person. But certain requisites and gardening criteria must be kept in mind for initiating an endeavor to cover a plot of land with nature’s best adornment - blossoms.

Annual Flowers and Perennial Flowers are the two varieties of Flowers that are bred in gardens. The Annual Flowering plants sprout from a seed, mature, reproduce Flowers and then die - all during one growing season. Perennial Flowering plants shoot out in the first growing season but don’t blossom in that year. Their root-life resides underground in a dormant but living way for many years. These plants can wither away in one winter, but due to their living root-system, the very next spring they can bloom Flowers. Once planted, Perennial Flowering plants are able to re-live and blossom for many growing seasons to come. For growing of both these Flowers, having a well-prepared garden land that has a clear surface free of any stones, weeds and twigs matters most and also stands important the double-digging of the garden bed. Double-digging is the process of digging down the garden’s soil to the depth of 12 feet to create the climatic ambience in which the roots of the plants breathe and mature properly. To accomplish this process, from the starting of the Flower bed till its end 3 gorges are dug and each is soil-filled with the soil collected from the previous one and in between a Garden Fork is used to untie the soil from the surface of the land. For a healthy root-life of a plant, double-digging is a prime important factor. In addition to these two requirements growing of Flowers also require the proper supply of light and shade, the right amount of water nourishment, the correct fertilizer and the ideal weather condition.

For annual Flowering plants, when the garden becomes ready for plantation, hardy annual seeds (Ex: Calendula and Snapdragons) need to be implanted directly into the garden soil during the time period of early to middle of the season spring, half-hardy annual seeds (Ex: Statice and Chrysanthemum) require a temperature of not below 25ºF (3.89ºC) to thrive in the garden land and therefore can be sown on the land only after the gloomy winter days end. Breeding of tender annual seeds (Ex: Zinnias and SunFlowers) in the land demands the climate of the departing spring or arriving summer when the temperature during night does not cross the mark of 40ºF (4.44ºC). The speed at which an annual seed germinates is also a cardinal factor to decide whether to start breeding the seed outdoors or indoors. For the seeds that consume a time frame of 80-90 days to sprout, it is advisable to start their breeding indoors so that they can be brought outdoors after starting to shoot out and made to bloom before the frost. For the seeds that bud very quickly within 50-60 days, outdoor plantation suits perfectly. The soil condition with a pH balance between 6.3 and 6.7 is the fitting one for the maturing of the annual Flowering plants. Nutrient-rich mixes, 3-6 inches of manure or peat moss and other healthy organic fertilizers help the soil to attain this ph balance. Most of the annual Flowering plants require 6-8 hours of full day sunlight to bloom, but some others, for example the begonia Flowers flourish well under the shade. Seeds of annual Flowering plants require the land surrounding them to be kept wet by water, but pots of water around them or water over them are injurious for their life.

Seeds of perennial Flowering plants need to be implanted before 45-30 days of the first freezing weather, for allowing the seeds to sprout and adapt themselves for living the whole of the upcoming winter. Potted perennial seedlings reside best in hollow containers like egg cartons that are filled with Vermiculite (Hydrated Laminar Minerals like Aluminum-Iron Magnesium Silicates) or Milled Spahgnum Moss and an ideal seed starting mix before the perennial seed is sowed there. The natural rays of Sun are highly effective for the full-fledged bloom of the perennial plants. On days when the temperature rises above 40ºC, perennial seedlings can be kept outside under a moist shade for a length of time and on days when the temperature is above 50ºC, perennial seedlings can enjoy the light for the whole day and can be taken indoors during the night. Perennial seedlings survive well on one-time (Spring time) feeding of a fertilizer having a 5-10-5 ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium and the grown-up plants require just a handful of a good organic fertilizer. Yearly or Two-yearly application of aged manure or other alloyed mix enrich the quality of the soil of the perennial Flowering garden and also aids the plants at water storage. How well the land of the perennial Flower garden has been mulched determine the water requisite of the plants. If the land is mulched well, then watering the plants become a minimal criteria. However, in extremely dry and hot regions, intense watering is needed for the perennial plants to live. In such weather conditions, water hoses and underground irrigation system are the two best options for watering a perennial Flower garden.

Mulching - This is the process of covering the surface of a barren land or the land around plants with a layer of organic compounds or synthetic materials for preserving the humidity, enhancing the productivity of the soil, to control harmful and toxic pests and to make the area a visual pleasure. Organic compounds such as Hays, Straws, Shredded Bark, Shells and Sawdust are used and synthetic materials like Plastic Sheets, Cardboards and Recycled Tire Rubbers are availed to mulch the soil, which when done with real labor, assuredly magnifies the soil quality and texture.

Just like human body needs healthful food to live life and work with all the energy and strength, so also plants, be it annual or perennial, need a sufficient supply of good fertilizers to Flower properly. A fertilizer which has the N-P-K (Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) Ratio at 5-5-5 (equal share of all nutrients) is the perfect one that infuses into the plants all the nutrition they demand for flourishing.

A garden attired with an array of entrancing blossoms is a real ‘’bliss of solitude’’ as the beauty and incense of the blossoms turn the garden into a real soulful place for total rejuvenation of the fortunate owner or the lucky visitor. But these bewitching blooms do require to be attended to time-to-time so that their inherent amazement does not wither away with the changes of weather and they continue to daze and soothe human minds.

Following 4-5 floriculture techniques result, in reality, in safe-guarding the grace of a Flower garden. A note on these techniques is given below:

Disbudding - This is the method of plucking out buds, before they bloom, from the stems of the plant - leaving only 1-2 buds on the stems. This method lets the plant to concentrate its total strength on the existing buds and that result in the Flowering of large and eye-treating Flowers. This process is a favored one for gardeners who cultivate the breeds like Carnations, Dahlias and Chrysanthemums.

Deadheading - While drying out, withered blossoms leave seeds. If this seed production once begins, then the Flowering plant stops blooming and produces seed-heads instead of Flowers. Thus deadheading, or removing (by chopping off) parched Flowers from the plants is a very sane practice which discards seed production and heightens blossoming of Flowers. The most fitted way to accomplish deadheading is to trim the long Flower stem back to an outer-front bud that is on the top of a seven-leaflet or five-leaflet leaf. Benefiting both annual and perennial Flowering plants, deadheading also reduces the probability of the molesting plant disease called Botrytis (Necrotrophic Fungus). Garden scissors for light stems and pruning shears for stout ones are use to exercise the task of deadheading.

Pinching - A technique mostly useful for perennial Flowering plants, pinching benefits in keeping the plants compact and condensed and thereby Flowering all the more thickly. Flower stems can be literally pinched manually by holding them in between of thumb and forefinger and garden scissors and pruning shears can also be used for speedy effect. Flower Snip can also be used to do pinching by cutting off 8 cm or such measure of the upper portion of a plant which has grown up to 30 cm during spring and mid-summer. Using Flower snip lets the cut stem branch many more new stems and the result is bunches of tiny but many Flowers. Pinching through Flower snip is practiced on a regular basis on the plants of Asters and Chrysanthemums. The mode of shearing is a faster substitute to pinching that is done by removing the upper 6 inches or 15 cm of the plant ahead of midsummer through the tools of garden scissors and pruning shears. Shearing is mainly practiced over plants which become bony and jungly to keep them firm and close. Blooming restarts in plants after 1-2 weeks of shearing. Pinching is carried out over fall bloomer perennial plants during the early season by uprooting one-third portion of the plants as they grow up to the height of 6 inches for effecting birth of more Flower buds in them. Exercise of this pinching technique on fall perennial plants each 2nd and 3rd week till the commencement of the month of July results in blooming of denser Flowers in them.

Cutting Back - This method is availed to make the plant more robust with more stems and therein able to reproduce more Flowers. When the plant grows up to an extent of 6-8 inches, it should be reduced to one-third for sprouting of new stems. After one month of growth, the plant again needs to be cut back to one-third. This total process aids in increasing the plant’s energy and making it much sturdy with stronger stems and numerous Flowers.

Watering - While watering the Flowers, the target area should be the roots of the plants and not the leaves. For Flower beds and annual Flowering plants, the congregation of roots is over the above 6 inches of the soil and for perennial Flowering plants, the roots are present over the top 12 inches of the soil. At the time of giving water to the Flowers, it should be kept in mind that not only one root point but all the openings are getting water. For this purpose, watering should be done circling the plant base as that would also help the plant in absorbing more nutrients from the soil. Early morning is the best time to water Flowers and as for the frequency of watering, the general opinion remains that drenching the Flowers once or twice in a week is the best and for the growing season one inch of water every 7-10 days is needed. Watering profusely one time is much preferable than watering miserly recurrently. (For the Flowering plants in tubs and containers, watering becomes necessary only when the top 1 inch of the potting mixture turns parched.) Regarding the apparatus for watering, Soaker Hose and a wholesome Drip Irrigation System are the best choice.

Alongside of these 5 specific floriculture methods, the regular practice of getting rid of the dead fallen leaves from the garden ground for preventing pests and certain ailments affect the Flowering plants also help in the endeavor of taking care of the very precious Flower garden. Another fact to be kept in mind is that since plants need to start hardening off for the season of winter, Flower cutting processes should be stopped after 1st October.