The Q&A Archives: Plant Growth

Question: I have applied Miracle Grow to all my plants as directed,watered when it hasn't rained for a period of time and even with the rain,the plants appear to be stunted in growth or just very slow in growing.Example: Planted Ornimental Poppy plant about year ago,this year the plant began to show promise,it got larger than last year,but did nothing,not even one stem of flower and I gave it Miracle Grow as prescribed.
Can you please tell me what's going on and what I need to do.

Answer: There is more to growing perennials than applying fertilizer. There is also a certain amount of experimentation to see which plants will grow best in the conditions you have. Light, soil type, and moisture all contribute.

The plants must be suited to the amount of light in that location. Perennial poppies for instance need full sun all day long to do their best. (These plants can also be difficult to transplant, and may take a year or two to settle in and build up enough strength to begin blooming. They are long lived, so it is usually worth waiting for. They also go dormant in the summer, then produce some foliage in the fall in preparation for their spring growth. Be sure to allow that foliage to grow undisturbed.)

Most perennials do best in a well prepared soil that has been loosened to at least a foot deep and had ample amounts of organic matter such as compost added to it and worked in.

Fertilizer and other soil amendments such as lime would be added based on the results of soil tests, and your county extension should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results.

Most perennials also need a soil that is evenly moist yet not sopping wet, with any watering being best done by providing a deep penetrating soaking rather than a daily sprinkling.

You might want to look at a book or two about perennial gardening for more in depth information about growing and selecting them. One I like is "Perennials for Dummies" by Marcia Tatroe, ISBN-7645-5030-6. Your county extension may also have information about perennials that do especially well in your local area.

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