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Gardening with Seasonal Color in Florida

Seasonal color, especially in the fall, comes in a wide variety of flower colors and plant forms. Seasonal color will brighten your landscape bed areas and add a splash of color to high focal point areas. Selection and use: In Southwest Florida, seasonal color lasts from October until May. Cool-season color is intolerant to heat, rainfall, and humidity. Coastal landscapes demand seasonal color that can tolerate high winds, salt spray, and perhaps irrigation water from wells that contain high levels of salt. It’s important to determine how much sunlight your seasonal color landscape beds will receive. Some seasonal color can tolerate full sun all day, while others do best with just morning or filtered sun. It’s also important to note, that during summer months, the sun sits directly overhead, while in the winter the sun sits in the southern sky and may be blocked by trees or buildings. There are very few seasonal color plants that will perform well in heavy shade. When selecting seasonal color compact healthy plants with good green color and lots of flower buds must be chosen. To reiterate, seasonal colors serve to accent your landscape, not to dominate. Seasonal color should harmonize with the setting and the color of your home. Combinations of many flower colors and plant forms are appropriate for a more eclectic cottage garden look, while more formal landscapes achieve great seasonal color success by using just 1 or 2 types of plants. Color should be used as a focal point to direct your eye — for example, a colorful flower bed along the walkway to your home visually leads a visitor to your front door. Site preparation and planting: Good preparation is key to success. We at GreenEdge Technologies, Inc. recommend incorporating Comand® compost to your seasonal color landscape beds. Control/time-release fertilizer should be sprinkled throughout the seasonal color landscape bed. A Rototiller is also an important piece of equipment needed to incorporate the native soil with the compost and the newly installed fertilizer. Another approach to planting is the pot-in-pot method. Empty parts are sunk into the soil and potted seasonal color of the same size are simply dropped into the empty pots. This is a great strategy in areas where the soil is very poor, difficult to cultivate, infested with nematodes, or where tree roots would compete with the seasonal color. Irrigating the seasonal color well before and after planting is important. The spacing of plants should be based on the mature size of the plant. (A mistake often made in the landscape is not spacing seasonal color correctly.) The low volume irrigation/micro-irrigation system should be correctly calibrated before the installation of your seasonal color. The frequency of irrigation depends on the site, soil, and sunlight. Pot-in-pot plants may require more frequent watering as they have a more limited rooting environment.

Seasonal Color Maintenance & Care

Irrigation/watering: Water applied with overhead irrigation systems can potentially destroy flowers by damaging fragile petals and causing blooms to rot. It is important to direct water to the soil and roots without wetting the flowers. Weed control: Weeds can be suppressed by mulching or using pre-emergent herbicides. GreenEdge Technologies, Inc. recommends the use of pine fines for mulch. It is important not to use excessive amounts of mulch after planting seasonal color. Mulching material should not come in contact with the plant stems. A high moisture environment created by mulch increases the chances of stem rot which can result in plant death. Pre-emergent herbicides can be very effective in managing weeds in flower beds. You must use pre-emergent herbicides that are compatible with soft herbaceous plant material. Fertilizing: Control/time-release fertilizer will ensure a steady supply of nutrients to the root system of the seasonal color. GreenEdge Technologies, Inc. recommends the use of soluble fertilizers, soil enhancing, and soil building products for your seasonal color landscape beds. Please call us for an estimate to treat your seasonal color beds. Pinching and deadheading: Pinching and deadheading your seasonal color is another important consideration when choosing plant material. Pinching is just like the pruning of stem tips to control the size and shape of the plant. Deadheading is the removal of spent blooms to improve the appearance and redirect plant energy into new growth and flowers rather than seed production. Pest management: From time to time, the seasonal color will be impacted by insects and disease. These problems must be quickly recognized and managed. Infestations detected in the early stages can be controlled by spot treatments before the entire flower bed is infested. An infestation of insects on a few plants can be controlled by picking and removing by hand or, in the case of disease, by removing infected leaves. For severe infestations, chemical control is needed.
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