Friday, May 29, 2015

Stretch That Dollar!

If you would call me anything, it would more than likely be a cheapskate.  Paying full price for just about anything makes me cringe! After moving into our home, I learned quite a few things about putting together an amazing flower bed that you will love year after year ON THE CHEAP. I have learned from several mistakes, here is the best advice I can offer on how to have an amazing flower bed on a budget!

I was roaming through the flower section at the store and noticed the bottom of this hanging basket was cracked. It looked as if someone had dropped it. I asked if it could be discounted and was told it would be 75% off! I walked out paying only a couple of dollars and you can't even tell the crack is there unless you look close. It never hurts to ask for a discount for damaged goods.

Aim for bright colors. If you are like me and wish to have lots of color...not just green, try to make the rule you generally only buy plants that flower. This way you won't be wasting your money on foliage that really doesn't do anything for you. Get the most enjoyment you can out of your purchase!

Buy perennials over annuals. These plants will come back year after year. For the most part, this is just a one time cost other than a little new mulch each year.

I bought this plant last year in mid summer for a couple of dollars (marked down because all the blooms were gone), it just looked like a green leafy bush.  Look how pretty it looked this spring! 

Shop clearance. Lowe's always has cart-fulls of plants marked at least 50% off. Stick to perennials and shop throughout the seasons. After plants are done blooming the store will put a perfectly healthy plant 75% off...this will look beautiful in your flower bed next year!

Clearance wave petunias at Lowe's, originally $7.98, I paid $1.00.  
Use neighbors and friends as a resource! Hostas, day lilies, irises are all great plants that grow like crazy and need to be divided every couple of years. If you see something you love, feel free to ask them for part of the plant next time they divide them. People love sharing plants and the joy of gardening.   (The opening picture to this post are lilies my Godmother dug up from her garden to divide, one of the very first plants I put into our flowerbeds)

Read plant labels carefully, not all perennials will come back in your zone. Also, read tags to see if the plant will bloom in spring, summer, fall, or all. Spread out the variety among blooming seasons, don't just buy spring blooming plants. This will allow you to enjoy the beauty of your flower beds from spring to fall and get the most out of your dollar.

Learn to propagate. Several of my plants can be broken off of, stuck in dirt and a new plant will grow! DIY blog post to come soon.

Buy plants that are native to your area AKA you have seen them thriving in other yards. If you are seeing some exotic new perennial, don't waste your time or money. I have learned the hard way...they don't generally come back the next year.

A few petunia baskets were on clearance because they had several spent blooms hanging on them, everyone knows those can be pinched off!  I paid less that $2 for this basket, just the plastic basket alone is worth that. Within two weeks the pot was looking beautiful again. Visit my Pinch Those Petunias! blog post to find out how.  
You can also save money gardening in more ways than just the plants. Reuse your post and hanging baskets next year instead of throwing them away.  Also, shop garage sales and thrift stores! I have already seen several yard sells that were selling pots, tools, and plants!! I just bought a brand new hand tiller for 4 bucks. I bought some flower pots for 50 cents, great for my new propagated plants.

I also got a pair of Crocs at our local thrift store, (the gardener's shoe)! $2 Spray them down with clorox, rinse them off...they looked brand new!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Tulip Care After Blooming

Tulips are my favorite part of spring. They mark the turn from the nasty winter weather to the bright warm days soon ahead. Most people don't realize the care needed for these beautiful plants after they bloom. These two easy steps will help bring bigger and better tulips next year.

After you have enjoyed the lovely colors of spring and the tulip petals begin to wilt and fade, it is important to deadhead the flower. Simply cut the stem close to the bloom leaving the foliage to continue to thrive. This allows the plant to stop spending energy on producing seed and strengthens your bulb.

The second important step is to leave the green foliage alone until it turns yellow. The leaves are collecting all the energy the plant needs to bloom next spring. Once the plant turns yellow like this picture, you can mow right over the area.

I promise these two simple steps will give you a great flower next year!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cheap & Easy Rose Bug Spray

Are your roses starting to look like this?
I can't believe how quickly the bugs started nibbling my leaves right up this year.  Here is a very simple homemade spray for your rose bushes to help keep the aphids and other not so lovely critters away.

I spray this on the leaves after each rain and it helps enormously. 

Using a large container mix together:
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon dishwashing soap
1 cup leftover coffee

Poor the mixture into a spray bottle and mist your plants. That simple!

May blooms

I am in the market for some purple irisis, these light pink ones just aren't as cool.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why Grow Roses?

My rose garden is beginning to fill in! We only had one casualty from the winter, which is pretty good considering I buy all my rose bushes on clearance at Lowe's!

Rose bushes can be a very simple plant to grow if you are one of those people who generally don't care for watering and trimming. They will continue to grow and come back every year it seems like no matter what you do to them.

I recommend planting roses in places where the sun really shines. Make sure to pay attention to the type you are getting, some require a trellis.

Here is a pic of the first couple of blooms we got this season! It has only been a couple of days since I have taken this pic and we have already had a ton more blooms, I love it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pinch Those Petunias!

Petunias are an easy addition to anyone's flower pot to add bright colors on the cheap. To get the most out of your petunia plant, try this quick pruning tip once a week. I promise this will keep your arrangement blooming energetically all summer.

Once a flower has lost its beauty, it is time to simply pinch the bottom of the entire flower and seed pod off the stem. You can use pruning shears if you wish, I just use my fingers.  Reach behind the bud and break off. 

I grew up thinking that all you need to do is pull the spent flower petals away from the plant and you are good to go. This may temporarily help the plant visually, but won't help promote new flower buds. Once the pod begins to form seeds the plant believes it has done its duty and will begin to die back.  By removing the developing seeds you are tricking the plant into to producing many more flowers than what is needed.

Pruning: If your petunia plant gets too crazy, feel free to cut large chunks of the plant back. Just make sure not to cut more than 1/3 of the plant off at a time. I recommend doing this if your plant starts to look leggy. This will only help the plant stay fresh and continue new growth.

Tip! If you are cheap like me, keep an eye out for petunia deals at Lowe's.  There was a large multi-color petunia hanging basket with the bottom of the pot broken (only on one edge, not even noticeable once hung). Looked like someone had accidentally dropped it. I asked if this could be discounted and got it 75% off!  I got another petunia hanging basket for $3 in the clearance section this week, all it needed was some pinching to get ride of the spent flowers. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

'The fattest & most scrumptious of all flowers'

My peonies are here! I can't take much credit for these beautiful plants, they were planted in our front yard before we moved in. Peonies take zero maintenance and start to pop out of the ground when Spring starts to warm up. Within two months you have these full dark pink blooms.

After the blooms fade away you are left with great glossy green leaves. It really is a pretty bush for how little maintenance is required.

I recommend bringing in a few of the flowers for a display. They smell wonderful. Deadhead any blossoms outside if you want the bush to look prettier.

Each year we seem to get a nest of bunnies right in the center of the peony bush. Check out the baby rabbit my hubby found a couple of days ago.

Come fall we mow right over the dieing bush and the peonies are ready to pop up next Spring!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Front Porch Focal Point

After pinning some ideas on the 'perfectly proportioned container', hubby and I set out to Family Tree Nursery in Liberty, MO.

As pinterest states, you need just three types of plants: a spiller, thriller, and filler. Seems simple enough!
8 different plants, 4 bags of dirt, and a massive flower pot later....we have my first ever gorgeous container!
Thriller- very back, deep purple tall plant. Beardtongue "Penstemon" Dark Tower. This is a perennial that I guess has really pretty pink flowers in the spring time. It should get pretty tall, has a grassy feel to it. 
Spiller- my all time Pinterest favorite this spring, has been popping out at me on all of the pictures. Sweet Potato Vine! Traditionally an indoor house plant, but works great for containers in the summer time. Annual. 
Wandering Jew (deep purple, bottom right), an old school indoor plant. I love the purple.
Filler- Marigolds (orange/yellow flowers). Holy smokes, I had no idea these multiplied so quickly! Annual, but save the seeds. 
Supertunia- Vista Silverberry (right side, white/pink flowers). I imagine this will spill over also. Annual
Superbells- Lemon Slice (front middle). This is another 'Proven Winners' plant, calibrachod hybrid. Has really pretty alternating white and yellow bands. Annual. 
My new favorite plants that I am fascinated with are the two coleous towards the middle-left side.

I had no idea when I picked these plants out that the majority of them can easily be propagated! I plan to create some baby plants out of most to bring in during the winter time.