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COLOR SPOTS

SUMMER COLOR IN THE GARDEN

Various flowers used as color spotsLooking for a way to add some instant color to the garden? It's easy, just choose and plant a few 'colorspots'.

What are 'colorspots'? They're summer flowering annuals that have been grown in larger sized containers and are already in full bloom, so they provide instant garden color. What's so nice about 'Colorspots' is that you can purchase them in various sizes. If you want a larger massive display the large gallon or two gallon sized plants provide a bushy mass of flower color. Or, if the budget is limited, you can chose the smaller sized 4 or 6 inch pots that usually have one or more flowers per plant. In addition to 'colorspots', many vegetables are often available in larger sized containers. In fact, you may be able to obtain plants like tomatoes that already have fruit forming on the plants. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, plus herbs are the ones most readily available this month.

If you have company coming to visit, or are just looking for a way to add a bright spot of color near the entry or on the patio, the 'colorspots' are the instant solution. It only takes a few minutes to plant them and they do not take any special care. Give them the same fertilization and watering attention that you would any of the annuals or perennials that you planted earlier.

Here in the northwest there are wide selection of 'Colorspots' available at this time of year. So here are a few of the best ones that can be used in specific parts of the garden:

HANGING BASKET PLANTS

Ivy geraniums, trailing petunias, lotus vines, creeping Charlie, trailing lobelia, bacopa, and bidens are among the most readily available hanging basket plants to use in sunny areas.

Among the best hanging basket plants for the shady part of the garden are trailing fuchsias, hanging basket begonias, New Guinea impatiens and the common (bizzy-lizzy) impatiens.

CONTAINER PLANT

In sunny locations the common upright, ivy, and Martha Washington geraniums, are probably the most popular ones. Snapdragons, dahlias, zinnias, marigolds, lantana, lobelia, and alyssum are other favorites.

Upright fuchsias, tuberous begonias, coleus, cineraria, pansies and violas are among the favorite summer annuals for the shade garden.

BORDER PLANTS

Any of the plants mentioned under 'container plants' can also be used effectively in borders. In addition, a few others would include the showy Marguerite daisies (white, yellow or pink), Osteospermum, ageratum and asters.

FRAGRANT PLANTS

Stock, heliotrope, nicotiana (flowering tobacco) and alyssum are among the best. However, one should take a minute to smell the flowers of petunias, because a few of them have very pleasing fragrances. My wife thinks the purple petunia varieties are the best for fragrance. The best place to plant these fragrant annuals is near the entry area, on the patio or any heavily traveled area of the garden, so the fragrances can be enjoyed to their fullest.

Most of the 'Colorspots' mentioned are available at nurseries, garden outlets, greenhouse firms or wherever plants are sold. However, early or late in the season you may find the selection somewhat limited at some of the garden outlets, so you may have to shop around a little.

Since the plants are container grown, they're quite easy to transplant into the garden. Here are just a few pointers on the easy and best ways to prepare the soil and plants for planting:

SOIL PREPARATION

First, take time to properly prepare the soil, so it is easier to water and care for the new transplants. This can best be done by mixing a little peat moss, compost or processed manure (the bagged stuff) with the existing planting soil. The size of the planting hole will depend upon the size of the pot. But, as a rule it's a good practice to prepare the planting hole about two times larger (in all directions) then the size of the (pot) plants root system.

PLANTING 'COLORSPOTS'

By all means be sure the soil is moist, before you remove the plant from its container. If the soil is moist the dirt will cling to the roots, if it's dry the soil will fall away from the roots and the plants are apt to suffer from transplanting shock.

Remove the plant gently from its pot. If the roots are inner-twined or are circling the edge of the root ball, loosen them gently, so they can grow out into the new planting soil.

Almost every plant has a front side and a backside, so take time to face the best side forward. Next, set the plant right at ground level, firming the soil around the roots.

Water-in thoroughly. Then lightly feed with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer, following label instructions.

Slugs love new tender flower growth so be certain to take steps to provide slug protection around your newly planted 'colorspots'.

Picking off any dead or dying flowers will not only keep the plants looking nice, but will also aid in the development of additional flowers.

For an effective show in the garden use the 'colorspots' in groups of three, five or seven plants per grouping.

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