The Q&A Archives: Battle of the blooms

Question: My front lawn is now a big flowerbed filled with drifts of daises,bee balm,coneflowers,artemesia, brown eyed susans, and daylillies. From 3 pots of each initially, they've spread out all over. Will 1 or 2 of these types 'win' and kill off(crowd out) the others or will it become an overcrowded mess? Thanks. I think I've hit critical mass this year- passerbys are saying

Answer: I love to see a riot of color in the summertime! All of your plants have shown you their potential to spread, and while I like an intensively planted garden, it's better for the plants to have some elbow room, not only room to grow but also to keep diseases at bay. Without good air circulation your plants will be more prone to fungal diseases. And, they will compete with one another for moisture and nutrients so the strongest will outpace the more timid in your garden. For now, I'd just enjoy the garden in all its glory. In the fall you'll want to think about digging and dividing your plants and then replanting only some of the divisions. The others can go into other parts of your landscape or into the waiting arms of gardening friends. While you're digging the plants, take a little time to incorporate some organic matter into the soil before replanting. This will make wonderful loamy soil for your newly divided plants.

All of your plants can be divided by digging, laying them on their sides and cutting through the root mass with a shovel. I know it sounds harsh, but as long as each division has roots with a few stems attached they'll be just fine. Replant in amended soil and water them in well. You might even want to have a dig and divide party with a few of your gardening friends. Provide them with cardboard boxes to set their treasures in to take home. You'd be surprised how fast the job will go.

Enjoy your beautiful garden!

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