Growing Calibrachoa Organically

Growing Calibrachoa Organically

Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa parviflora) is a trailing petunia that is also known as Million Bells and Seaside Petunia. It’s a happy little plant that blooms prolifically all summer and performs its best under the summer sun. Calibrachoa won’t wilt in the heat like many other varieties of petunias, making it a great choice for a sunny, organic garden.

Planting Location

The more sun calibrachoa receivies, the more blooms they will produce. Select a location that is in full sun.

Plants grow equally well when planted in-ground or in containers, but will produce runners that need space to trail downwards or spread out laterally.

Soil Preparation

Since calibrachoa is a heavy blooming plant, it is also a heavy feeder. Create a fertile growing medium by mixing a good quality potting soil mix and compost at a 50/50 ratio. Potting soil should contain perlite and peat to help keep plants fed and hydrated.

Planting

Calibrachoa plants produce very few seeds, so they are typically purchased as plants.

When planting in-ground, dig a eight inch by six inch hole (save removed soil to use elsewhere) and place two-three inches of prepared soil in bottom of hole. Remove calibrachoa plant from container and place in center of prepared hole. Fill in planting hole with more potting soil mix. Firm soil gently around roots and water well.

For container planting, select a container that is 8-10 inches deep and equally as wide. Add two-three inches of prepared soil in container bottom, place plant in the center and finish filling in with soil. Water well.

Add a thin layer of organic mulch on top of soil to help retain moisture.

After Care

Remove spent blooms as needed to keep plant looking nice.

Water plant early in the day and provide plenty of sunshine to keep the thick foliage and the flowers dry to prevent rot root.

This heavy-feeding plant needs a steady supply of food, so keep it well fed with compost tea. Mix a garden trowel of compost (or manure) in a five gallon bucket of rain water and place in a sunny location. Allow ‘tea’ to steep for a couple of days, then use once a week to water calibrachoa.

A side dressing of compost can be added in mid-summer to kept soil fertile and plants growing strong.

Growing Zinnia Organically

Growing Zinnia Organically

Zinnias (Zinnia elegans) have been around for a long time and for good reason; their large, long-lasting blooms and care-free growing habits. The layers of colorful petals which make up each bloom are long-lasting when left in the garden or when used as a cut flower. Heat resistant and drought tolerant, zinnias make a perfect addition to an organic garden.

Planting Location

Choose a location that is in full sun and has well draining soil. Work some compost or humus into the soil before planting to ensure soil is fertile and drains efficiently.

Prepare Soil

Zinnias aren’t heavy feeders, but must have well-draining soil to thrive. Prepare soil by tilling or spading it to the depth of 8-10 inches.

Apply 2-4 inches of compost on top of tilled soil, then lightly work the compost into the soil. The compost will improve soil structure, promote good drainage and provide most of the organic food the plants will need throughout the growing season.

Planting Seeds

After all danger of frost has past, scatter flower seeds directly into prepared soil and cover them with ¼ inch of potting soil. Water in well. Seeds will germinate in 4-6 days.

Seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before predicted date of last frost in spring. These plants love the heat and young plants will grow slowly in early spring, but once the summer temperatures heat up the air and soil, these flowers will take a growth spurt.

Thin seedlings to 6-12 inches apart to allow for proper air circulation.

After Care

Zinnias require minimal care and typically sail through the summer heat without wilting or ceasing flower production. Water them during periods of prolonged drought or if the plants begin to wilt. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage constant blooming.

The compost worked into the soil prior to planting will keep the plants fed all summer, so no other food is needed.

Add a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch around plants once they are 8-10 inches tall.

Attraction and Prevention

Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to colorful zinnias. When zinnias are planted around the base of a birdbath or bird feeder, it will help to create a non-stop bird show throughout the summer.

Zinnias are prone to develop powdery mildew when planted too close together. Prevent this disease by select zinnia varieties that are mildew-resistant, plant flowers in full sun and space them 6-12 inches apart to allow air to circulate around each plant.

Growing Ornamental Sweet Potatoes Organically

Growing Ornamental Sweet Potatoes Organically

Ornamental sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) vines don’t produce edible vegetables, but they do produce an attractive vine. The vine is suitable for use as a houseplant or for growing in an outside hanging basket. They thrive in the intense heat of summer and come in a wide range of colors. Their easy-care nature and low-growing vining habits make them a great addition to an organic garden. When planted among taller shrubs and plants, ornamental sweet potato vines act as a living mulch that helps retain soil moisture and keep weeds from growing.

Planting Location

The more sun these colorful vines receive, the better. Select a full sun location for outside growing and south or west-facing window for indoor containers.

Soil Preparation

For container growing, create a mix of 50 percent potting soil and 50 percent compost. Fill container to within one inch of top rim, and place sweet potato vine in the center. Water well and place container in a sunny location where the vine will have room to grow either downwards or upwards. Provide a small support for upward growing.

For outdoor planting, till or spade soil to 6 inches deep, then add 2 inches of compost on top and lightly work in into soil. Dig planting hole 6 inches deep, place two inches of compost in the bottom of hole, then set vine in and fill remainder of planting hole with removed soil mixed with 50 percent compost. Water well.

After Care

Once vine has become established outdoors, add a light layer of organic mulch from the base of plant to one foot outward all the way around the plant. This will keep the vine from coming into contact with the soil. Also, as the organic mulch slowly decomposes it will improve soil structure and fertility.

Water when top of soil is dry to the touch or when leaves begin to wilt.

Outdoor Uses

Easy-to-grow ornamental sweet potatoes work well as a low-growing bedding plant, summer ground cover, in hanging baskets and other containers, or trained to climb up a vertical support. When planted among taller shrubs and plants, ornamental sweet potato vines act as a living mulch that helps retain soil moisture and keep weeds from growing. The growth on these plants is very vigorous once they get established.

Growing Geraniums Organically

Growing Geraniums Organically

The popular and colorful geranium (Pelargonium) is a sure sign that summer has arrived. Geraniums come in many forms, colors and growing heights with well over 400 species of plants that are in the family of Cranesbills.

Easy-to-grow plant thrives in an organic garden and will provide bloom color all summer. Geraniums are considered to be an annual, but typically behave as a perennials when grown organically.

Growing Location

Select a sunny location that has well-draining soil. Geraniums grow well in containers or when planted in-ground.

Geraniums should be planted on the day of purchase, so it’s best to have your garden soil prepared ahead of time and be ready to plant immediately.

Soil Preparation

Prepare soil by tilling or spading 8-10 inches deep, or use a container 8-10 inches deep.

Mix in six inches of compost, well rotted manure or peat moss to the tilled soil ensure good drainage and plenty of organic food for the plants.

Prepare soil for container by creating an organic growing medium from a 50-50 mixture of good quality potting soil and compost.

How To Plant

For plants, dig holes that are the same depth as the roots so plant roots will just barely be under the surface of the soil.

Place a handful of compost in the bottom of each planting hole. Gently remove plant from container to keep the root ball intact and place in prepared hole.

Gently firm the soil around plant base and leave a 1/2 inch indentation in the soil around the plant to act as a catch basin for water. Water plant well and add two inches of an organic mulch around plant stem to retain water and prevent weeds.

For seeds, plant seeds in prepared soil 8-10 inches apart. Cover with half an inch of compost and water well. Keep soil moist until seeds germinate. When plants reach six inches high, apply a 2 inch layer of organic mulch around the plants.

After Care

Geraniums like moist, but not soggy soil. keep plants well-hydrated and well-fed by creating a batch of organic compost tea.

Mix a garden trowel of compost (or manure) in a five gallon bucket of rain water and place in a sunny location. Allow ‘tea’ to steep for a couple of days, then use to water geraniums.

A side dressing of compost can be added in mid-summer to kept soil fertile and plants growing strong.

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