Summer Cultivation

When once hardy annuals are established and growing well, there is generally no need for further cultivation, except to keep the hoe going occasionally between the plants until they have completely covered the soil. Hoeing keeps the soil healthy and also prevents the growth of weeds.

It may be necessary in some cases to pro-vide stakes, particularly if the site is wind- cases is to make the plant send out a number of side-shoots to take the place of the one removed. Not all annuals can be treated in this way, but such plants as antirrhinums are very much improved by this treatment.

Where stakes are really necessary, they should generally take the form of one thin cane to each flower stem.

Plants such as Shirley poppies are, how- Seedlings which are planted with a dibber stand swept. As a general rule, however, an effort should be made to produce strong, healthy plants by careful thinnin? And transplanting, as stronger plants will not need the support of stakes. In the case of some annuals it is also advisable to pinch them to encourage bushy growth, instead. Of allowing them to grow into tall plants. The shorter plants with plenty of side growths produce small flowers and are generally better suited as bedding plants than are tall, single-stemmed plants.

Pinching means removing the centre growing tip of the stem. The effect in most less chance of having their tender roots damaged.

Ever, more effectively staked by pushing in short twiggy branches among the growing seedlings. The flowers rise above the tops of these branchss and completely cover them, but they make an effective support for the lower part of the stem which is otherwise often broken by strong winds.

Another method of supporting annual flowers of rather slender type is to Btretch a piece of wire netting above the seedlings on a wooden frame, all over the seed-bod. As the plants develop, the stems grow through the netting and completely smother it.

Tall annuals such as sweet peas need other forms of support, but spooial hints are given concerning these under the particular flower names.

Continuous Blooms. If they are treated properly the majority of hardy annuals will keep on flowering for many weeks or even months before the plants become exhausted. Water supplies must be maintained at all times, although over-watering will tend to produce an abundance of foliage at the expense of flowers. Food supplies must also be maintained, and in the case of those plants which appear to be exhausting themselves by flowering, frequent doses of liquid fertilizer (which should be given when the ground is wet) will often stimulate a further crop of flowers. In addition to this, all dead flowers should be removed from time to time.

If seeds are allowed to form, the plant, having completed its life-cycle, will die, but if the dead flowers are removed, the plant will produce more and more. It sometimes pays to cut away from an annual plant all the flowers whether faded or not, and to give a dose of fertilizer. This will result in another crop of flowers of good quality.

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