2175 The normal way of buying flowering plants tends to produce landscapes with three stages every spring: a glorious flash, a fizzle and wait-till-next-year." /> The normal way of buying flowering plants tends to produce landscapes with three stages every spring: a glorious flash, a fizzle and wait-till-next-year." /> CAES NEWSWIRE | 19 Spring flash, fizzle Skip to Main Menu Skip to Content

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Landscape flash, fizzle? Stretch spring color show

By Dan Rahn
University of Georgia

The normal way of buying flowering plants tends to produce landscapes with three stages every spring: a glorious flash, a fizzle and wait-till-next-year.

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"It happens every year," said Gary Wade, an Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "People will go on a buying frenzy and buy anything and everything in bloom."

Trying to buy out the garden center on a single visit isn't all bad.

"Spring is the best time of the year to buy spring-blooming plants," Wade said. "You can see the plants in bloom and tell if they're the colors you have in mind. It assures that you get plants of the same variety -- plants have been known to be tagged wrong."

Downside

Spring buying sprees have drawbacks, though. The first is how quickly the color fades after you get home.

"What people don't always realize," Wade said, "is that when you buy that plant and take it home in its peak of color, within a week or so those blooms will be gone. You won't have color until next year."

Planting them can shock them and further shorten their display, he said. You can stretch the blooms out a few more days if you just put them where you want them, still in their containers, and keep them watered until the blooms drop. Then plant them.

One of the biggest drawbacks to one-day spree-buying is that when you buy many kinds of plants in their peak of bloom, you can expect them to all bloom together next year and for years to come.

"What you wind up with is a real splash of color that lasts a week or two, but a somewhat drab landscape for the rest of the spring," Wade said.

Lasting spring

A better idea, he said, is to simply spread out your landscape purchases. "Visit the garden center once a month during the spring to buy plants that bloom at different times," he said.

Nurseries and garden centers know you're going to do that. They bet the business on it every spring. And they're going to keep plants in a peak of color for as long as they can. One way they do that is with different varieties.

"Azaleas are available in three types, in terms of their time of bloom: early, midseason and late," he said. "Early-blooming varieties usually bloom around April 1-15 in central Georgia, give or take a week in north or south Georgia.

"Expect midseason varieties to bloom from mid-April to mid-May and late-season varieties to bloom after mid-May," he said. "Buying and planting varieties from each of these categories will extend the color show. Good gardening books usually list varieties according to their time of bloom."

Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are the same way, he said. "They come in early, midseason and late-season varieties," he said. "Buying the right varieties can extend their color several weeks."

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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