The Q&A Archives: Colorful Flowers

Question: I live in New Jersey and I am starting a flower garden. I was wondering if you could give me a list of flowers that do well in my area. I like colorful flowers and especially sunflowers.

Answer: If you have a nice sunny location with decent soil, nearly all the sun loving annuals should do well for you, and especially heat loving types. You might try marigolds, zinnias, petunias, sunflowers of all kinds, tithonia, blue or red salvia, dahlias, portulaca, sweet alyssum, and gladiolas among others. The secret to success is to prepare your soil by loosening it and adding lots of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, or aged stable manure and bedding. You should also have your soil tested to determine if you need to add addtional amendments such as fertilizer or lime. Your county extension (579-0985) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. After planting also be sure to mulch the area with several inches of an organic mulch such as shredded bark. This will help keep the soil cool and moist as well as reduce weeds and continue to feed the soil as it breaks down. Finally, when you water, water less often but deeply. Avoid daily light sprinklings. For more help on starting an annual garden you might want to take a look at a book or two. One I particularly like is "Annuals for Dummies" by Bill Marken, ISBN 0-7645-5056-X, Dummy Press. In it you will find lots of good practical information covering site selection, soil preparation, plant choices and ongoing maintenance and care. Enjoy your new garden!

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