Flowering Plants and Transplanting Seedlings

by Mira Dessy

I've always been good at keeping plants healthy, but I have a tough time with flowering plants. They wilt, or stop blooming or always something. I read the plastic spike instructions concerning watering, light, ect. Could it be that I just EXPECT the flowers to continually bloom and stay perfect? I live in south Florida, so weather is not a big factor.

Also, I have decided to try my hand at starting plants from seeds and so far (at 4 weeks) some, but not all are beginning to look pretty good. Two (2) questions: 1) how do I transplant these tiny plants without losing all or most to transplant shock (I mean besides the obvious of being extremely gentle)? 2) Since I bought all the seeds, a variety of both EASY TO GROW vegetables and flowers, why wouldn't they all come up in the same fairly reasonable amount of time? Could some of the seeds just be BAD? (OK, that's 3 questions). If you have the time, I would appreciate a response.
Happy Advising and Gardening,

Dear Vicky,
Most flowering plants do not flower ALL the time. They may flower for a long period of time, but then they need time to devote growth to the root system, the foliage and then create new buds and flower again. One way to help these plants flower well the next time around is to deadhead them. This basically means removing the wilty or brown flowers that are done. This way the plant does not continue to devote growth resources to a dying flower.

Starting things from seed. Some things germinate or sprout much earlier than others do. So that explains why some of your things didn't come up at the same time. That's also because flowers and vegetables have different growth cycles. If you read the back of the packages the information will tell you how long it is until your vegetables produce. So onions, as an example, take a long time (up to 12 weeks) but radishes only take 6 weeks.

Transplanting your tender plants. You need to get them used to being outdoors first. As soon as they are big enough you start putting them outside during the day when the weather is nice. You do this for a few days (maybe 4-5). You bring them back in at night. Then you start leaving them outside but covering them with a burlap cover or a sheet. This takes another 4-5 days. Then you leave them uncovered and exposed to all weather for about a week. At this point they should be sufficiently hardy to handle being outside. You do need to be careful when transplanting them. The best thing to do is to prepare the bed first, making sure the soil is loamy and loose. Make rows or holes (depending on which gardening method you use) and put all the plants in their spot. Then gently cover them all up. Then lightly water. After this you shouldn't loose too many of them but you need to make sure that they are given enough water. Hope this helps.

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If you have a question for Mira, send it to mdessy@together.net.

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