September is the prime time for planting spring bulbs so if your family cemetery allows planting choose plump firm bulbs and get to planting! If your family cemetery has strict rules against planting flowers, this would be a great time to start a memorial garden filled with your loved ones’ favorite flowers and decorative trinkets. Here are some helpful tips sure to make for a beautiful garden…
1. Deadheading is Key
For those of you maintaining existing plantings deadheading isn’t only an aesthetic must, it encourages many of your plantings to reflower. After deadheading, plant hardy perennials and make sure you choose appropriate ones for your region and soil type. Don’t let the frost destroy your hard work before roots have had chance to establish themselves.
2. The Good… The Bad… And The Ugly
Choose a place with good drainage and if you’re limited to a certain space then mix your soil with fine sand. Add a little bone meal for slow-release fertilizer. Bone meal supplies phosphorus amongst other elements, but conventional and organic gardeners mainly use it for the phosphorus because it is important for root development.
3. Support the Strong
In an existing flower bed, the gusts of wind in autumn can take its toll on taller plants so make sure tall plants are supported. You can use bamboo sticks and clips or wire specifically designed to hold up certain flower types.
4. Divide the Weak & Replicate
This is a great way to replicate a home garden at a gravesite while maintaining the health of the garden you have flourishing at home. When the center of the plant has smaller leaves, fewer flowers, and weaker blooming stalks; it is time to divide the plant. Generously water the plant the day before because hydrated roots will be less susceptible to damage. Find the center of the plant and tie the two sides apart from one another. Dig around the drip line to gently lift the plant out of the ground. For most perennials, you can use your hands to divide the equal sides but sometimes the division needs to be done with a shovel or utility knife. Replant with plenty of organic matter and water generously.
5. How Far Should You Go?
A general rule of thumb is to bury bulbs at twice the depth of their size. Make sure the tip is facing upwards and ensure there are no air pockets around them. A great idea is to use the as borders or a means of filling gaps in flower bed. Start with narcissi, alliums, crocuses, scillas and chionodoxas – tulips should be left until November.
6. Work Smart, Not Hard
Save time and energy by investing in a good quality dibber. Whether you prefer wooden of metal dibbers, they will make the penetration of soil much easier and will also guarantee accuracy in the depth of the hole you make for each bulb.
7. The Days Are Numbered
If doing anything outdoors is too difficult for you, your last chance at a healthy bloom for indoor plants intended for Christmas is mid-September. Use bulb fibre or multi-purpose compost well below the rim of your container and set the bulbs as close to one another as you can. Try and make sure your plantings are at least 4” deep with a drainage hole at the bottom of your container and leave them in a cool dark place. Just keep an eye on the so the compost doesn’t dry out.
Narcissi and hyacinths should have their noses exposed while all other bulbs should be covered completely. I have had the best luck with tulips, scillas, and crocuses. When the leaves reach 1-2” in height, make sure the room they are in is still cool and then when you notice buds appear, move the container into full light.
8. Start Collecting
Now is the time to start collecting seed heads from perennials. There is nothing more rewarding than growing plants from seeds you have collected. Be careful because seed heads are tricky little things that may ripen and pop while you’re not looking. Collect them when they are just turning brown. Cut them off and toss them in a paper bag, label it, and hang it somewhere dark and dry.