Episode 014: 4 Tips To Keep Your Flowers Blooming All Summer

podcast cover with smiling woman, title of episode for Organic Gardening For Beginners Podcast

episode highlights

  • Learn how to keep your summer garden in continuous bloom, focusing on “cut and come again” flowers, proper plant care, and the use of specific fertilizers
  • Find out the crucial role of regular plant care such as watering, fertilizing, and maintaining a rich soil, in achieving a blossoming summer garden
  • Discover how to maximize flower blooming with correct flower types, care techniques, and post-harvest care for prolonging the life of your cut flowers

Summer Blooms: How to Keep Your Garden Flourishing

Don’t let your spring garden fizzle! You can keep your flowers blooming all summer with just a few strategic tips. 

  • Choose cut and come again flowers like zinnias, gomphrena, dahlias, cosmos, black-eyed Susan, sweet peas, and more for continuous blooming all summer.
  • Provide regular plant care with proper watering and fertilization to support new blooms.
  • Pruning or cutting back certain flowers like cosmos, black-eyed Susans, and snapdragons mid-summer can promote new growth and fresh blooms.
  • Get the top tips for keeping cut flowers fresh in a vase, such as cutting them in the morning and harvesting them from well-watered plants.

    Here are two recipes to make your own flower food. Remember that there are so many individual recipes out there, and you can experiment to find the right ratio of ingredients that works best for you!

    Bleach option:
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
     1 tablespoon sugar
    1/4-tablespoon bleach
    add to 1 quart of lukewarm water and add flowers

    Vinegar option:
    2 tablespoons white vinegar
    2 tablespoons sugar
    add to 1 quart of lukewarm water and add flowers

    For the full blog post that inspired this episode, just click here: https://homegrownfoodandflowers.com/do-flowers-bloom-after-being-cut/

Episode Transcript

Hello, hello, and welcome back to Organic Gardening for Beginners. I’m your host, Jessica, from the blog Homegrown Food and Flowers, and this show is here to help you grow your own farmer’s market full of fresh produce and fresh flowers right out of your backyard. Today, we are talking about four ways to help keep your flowers blooming all summer, so that you don’t end up with that first flush of flowers in the spring, an early summer, and your plants then fizzle out and you’re left without anything blooming all summer long. So one of these tips should be right for you, no matter where your garden is at, so let’s jump in. So, to start off, you need to plant the right type of flower if you want them to bloom all summer long, and although I don’t exclude any flowers from my garden, what I mean by the right ones are they need to be something that’s considered, cut and come again, because this is a new term to you, then what this means is that these flowers are meant to produce flower after flower after flower. These are not a one and done, such as a single stem sunflower that puts up one flower. If you cut it or it fades, then that plant is done and you would need to replant if you wanted to get another flower Cut and come again, is the polar opposite, where the plant will produce more flowers the more you cut. 

Something like zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, sweet peas, nasturtiums all of these flowers, plus most others, to be honest, are cut and come again. So the more you cut from them, the more flowers you will be able to harvest or ultimately leave some in the garden for the bees, for the birds, the pollinators, everybody that wants to come by. The next tip, once you have your cut and come again flowers picked out, is to commit to regular plant care in order to support all those new blooms. So what that means is, if you plant your seeds, or you plant your seedlings, and then you expect it to thrive on its own, that might be the case with some flowers, ones like echinacea or cone flower, black-eyed susan, even nasturtiums you can put the seeds out and they will largely grow on their own Some faster, some slower, but they don’t need a whole lot of care. Whereas something like zinnias need regular water, they do appreciate some fertilizer throughout the season, especially if you’re harvesting regularly, or even sweet peas that need a trellis. 

Some of those flowers need a little more attention in order to really reach their full potential. So, as I mentioned, regular water, giving them fertilizer occasionally, making sure that they have a rich soil All of these will help you get the biggest Harvest of flowers throughout the season and the longest blooming period throughout the season. Some flowers, if you take care of them really well, they’ll bloom for three to four months before they peter out and stop producing. So if you just take that little extra step to give them regular care in exchange for three to four months of fresh flowers, to me that’s absolutely worth it. Plus, it just makes your garden look beautiful for the whole summer and you’ll definitely notice a lot more wildlife and pollinator activity if it’s constantly in bloom, rather than one big burst of flowers and then nothing because your blooming period is over or there’s a big gap where the insects realize, hey, I need to go somewhere else for a food source, and then it takes them a while to come back when you have another round of things Blooming. I don’t use commercial fertilizer too frequently because I typically just use compost, but two that I do really like to occasionally put on my plants throughout the summer are either there’s one called tiger bloom, and this is a liquid fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus, which helps encourage bloom production, and the other one is Dr Earth is the brand, and they have several different Types of fertilizer, like for tomatoes, for citrus, for acid loving plants, but the one I typically use is just their all-purpose fertilizer, because then I can use it on my vegetables as well and it’s a balanced, organic fertilizer that, if the garden needs a boost, it’s a really handy one. I’ll have a couple links for you in the show notes, just so that you can get what I prefer and what I’ve had good experience with. But if you’ve got your own, then you do you and keep using what has worked for you and your garden, because they’re all different. 

Next up, to keep your flowers blooming all summer long is to Cut back the plant itself. So Think of this as pruning mid-season, when you are deadheading or harvesting flowers for a bouquet. That is considered pruning as well, because you’re removing vegetation from the plant, but in this case cutting back is more of a heavy pruning. So if those flowering plants have been blooming for a while and they’re starting to slow down they look a little ragged or for spring plants such as pansies and snapdragons, then cutting them back can really help promote new growth, especially in the fall, once the weather starts to cool down. This won’t work with all plants. For example, sweet peas are a spring bloomer and they Perform very well in the cooler temperatures of spring and once the weather starts to warm up they start to die back. Even if you cut these back, you water them, you fertilize them, you baby them, they are not going to come back through the heat of summer, at least, I should say, at least in my experience. If you have had experience keeping sweet peas all summer, then that’s awesome because they are gorgeous flowers, and I love them. 

But what I have had experience with and good luck with is snapdragons, because they are also, depending on the variety you grow, they are also a spring bloomer. What I do is, once they are done blooming, I cut the stalks back to where the leaves are at the base of the plant and then I just leave it all summer. I make sure it gets water I don’t even fertilize it typically, and then, once the weather starts to cool off again in the fall, the plant will send up a new flower stalk to bloom again. It’s not typically as robust as the spring ones. It’ll be a little bit shorter, but who cares? I’ll take it. Any flower that I can get to grow in my garden, I’m all about it. So that might be something that you try as well. 

And this is also the case for Black Eyed Susans, where I lived in California these last few years. Because it’s so warm, they grow really, really strongly during the summer, and then the grasshoppers tended to come in and start to chew up the leaves. The snails hit them too a little bit, but it was mostly the grasshoppers, and so the plant would start to struggle from that weed pressure not weed pressure, excuse me, the pest pressure. So what I did was cut them back at the end of the season and they overwintered and they came back the next season without me needing to replant them. This of course, helped because they’re perennials. But you can also do it in the middle of the season. If they’re starting to look a little ragged, a little tired whether it’s because they’ve bloomed a ton or pests are getting to them, or maybe they’ve got a touch of disease Cut the plant back, water it regularly, give it one little dose of fertilizer, and then see what happens, see if it’ll come back that season, or for perennials like Black Eyed Susan, let it overwinter and you’ll get flowers that much sooner next year. And then, lastly, cosmos can really benefit from a heavy cutback, especially if you haven’t been harvesting flowers too frequently, because these are such prolific bloomers and very bushy plants. You can prune them back pretty well and chances are they will recover and come back with new, fresh stems. 

Lastly, treat your flowers well in the vase after they’re cut. So if you want your flowers to last as long as possible, even after you’ve harvested them, then these are a few tips that you can do, that you can use to prolong their vase life. And the first one is super important and that is to cut your flowers in the morning. In the morning, the plants have had all night to rehydrate, to freshen, to really store as much water in their leaves and petals as possible, and so when you cut them they will hold up the best. They are like I said, they are hydrated, they have all the nutrients they need, and that will transfer once you sever the plant. Once you sever the flower from the plant, that will extend their vase life. If you can’t swing it in the morning, maybe you need an impromptu bouquet or you just forgot, then save your harvesting for late afternoon, early evening, and avoid cutting in the middle of the day, because that is almost always a death sentence for your flowers, because they’ll wilt right away. You can also help extend your flowers life if you put it straight into water once you harvest it. So bring a jar or a bucket or even a deep bowl out to your garden with you and once you cut the flower stem, just pop it right in the water and that’ll help extend its life too. 

Flower food is kind of a toss up. If you’ve ever bought a bouquet from the store, you’ve probably gotten a little packet of flower food. It’s like a little white powder. It looks like a sugar, which is essentially what it is a flower sugar plus preservative to help increase the longevity of the flowers, and it provides nutrition, a little bit of disinfectant oftentimes, so that it lowers the chances of bacteria growing in the water, and so that can help keep your flowers blooming even after you’ve cut them. If you don’t have a commercial flower preservative which most people don’t really have that laying around you can make one really easily by mixing a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of bleach, two teaspoons of lime juice and four cups of water. So a little bit of sugar, a little bit of disinfectant and a little bit of acidity is basically your own flower food. I’ll make sure to have that ratio in the show notes and I always love my little side notes. Thank you, you might play with the recipe. Some don’t use bleach. I honestly typically don’t use bleach, I just use the sugar and the acid and that helps for me. But some people find a more success with a higher ratio of sugar to acidity. You can play with it and tweak, tweak it a little bit to find what works best for you and your flowers. 

And then, lastly, when you are harvesting, try to use sharp shears, like garden shears or scissors, so that you’re not mashing the stem when you cut them. If you mash it too much then it can break the cells in the plant stem so that they aren’t as able to draw up water into the stem to keep them fresh in the vase. I’ll be honest, sometimes I just pluck a flower from the stem old school, without any pruners, shears or scissors, and you know they don’t last the longest, but I still get a lot of enjoyment out of it. So not very helpful to this point, but just want to remind you guys, I go off the rail sometimes too, and I do my own thing, even if that’s just pulling a flower stem from the plant. When I’m advocating using nice, clean, sharp scissors, sometimes I don’t have them on me and I just want to pick a flower. So no judgment if that’s you too. 

Okay, that was it. This one was just that quick tip to keep your tips, I should say, to keep your flowers blooming all summer, try one, try all. If it’s too late, to make sure you’ve got cut and come again flowers. Then you will know for next season what you can maximize, what you can choose in order to keep your flowers going as long as possible. And make sure you’re getting out there, watering, fertilizing, taking care of your plants, put that mulch on there you know we’ve talked about it and all those things will help you keep flowers as long as possible this summer. So, as always, if you’re enjoying the show, give me a subscribe or a follow. I would love to hear a review of what you were learning from the show or where I can improve to help you more. All right, I’ll talk to you later. Bye. 

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