The Q&A Archives: Flowers Won't Grow

Question: I have purchased a new home in S.California. I am planting flowers around the home, and having a hard time with them staying alive. I plant the flowers in the evening (no sun), and within 2 days they wilt, dry out, then die. I am not sure if it is because of the dirt and not being touched before, or because of the thousands of rocks underground. Any suggestions or tips for planting or what I should plant is appreciated greatly!!

Answer: It sounds as though your soil is in dire need of help! Usually, when new homes are built, the top soil is graded away and all that's left behind is the sterile, hostile to plant roots stuff. If you amend the planting bed with lots of organic matter, it will help hold in moisture and provide a more friendly habitat for plant roots. I usually spread a 4-5" layer of organic matter (compost, peat moss, etc.) over the top of the planting bed and dig it in to a depth of 6-8". Level the soil and then plant your annuals and perennials. Water the new plants in well, then cover the bare soil with another 1-2" of organic mulch material. Mulch will slow water evaporation, moderate soil temperatures and suppress weeds. Another really important aspect of growing annuals and perennials is to choose those thrive in the conditions your garden provides; sun lovers for areas with hot afternoon sunshine; shade lovers for early morning sun or full shade areas. Hope this information helps!

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