I have chosen not to list every flower we grow and it's uses, etc. A quick Google search will give you masses of this information, however I get to answer loads of very detailed and specific questions about growing flowers and vegetables so I have started collating them for you. Plus a few other more general planting and growing tips.
If you want help in the garden follow this link for a list of Professional Gardeners we know. All of these gardeners love gardening and working with plants... that's in polite distinction to pushing a lawn mower or laying paving.
Planting Seedlings. Prior to planting, water the seedlings well. Prepare a planting hole that will easily accept the root ball. Gently squeeze bottom of the cell holding your chosen plant, this will loosen the the roots and your seedling should then lift out easily. Ensure the first set of leaves is above the soil level. Be careful with plants that develop in a rosette (eg. Primula sp.), the flowers grow from a central crown that must not be buried.
Trouble Shooting. Planting out garden beds may be therapeutic for you but it is very stressful for young seedlings. Damage to Seedling roots during transplanting creates an opportunity for fungal diseases to infect young plants. If your seedlings don’t settle in after a couple of weeks, ask your retailer for advice on root disease control.
Additional Fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer can help to establish large strong plants to carry your flower display. Ask your retailer for a liquid fertilizer with a balanced ratio of Nitrogen (N) to Potassium (K) and a low level of Phosphorus (P). Apply weekly at the recommended rates for healthy green foliage on compact plants. Otherwise try Seaweed extracts, these are less powerful fertilizers but carry a broad range of essential trace elements.
Dig soil over to about the depth of the blade of your spade (30cm). Try to add organic material to the soil each time the bed is prepared. Regular additions of compost and digging in last season's mulch are the best thing for the structure of both sandy and clay soil types.
Fertilizer. There are so many fertilizers available we suggest you ask your retailer for their recommendation. We prefer organic materials because they generally improve the soil condition as well as fertility. Don't use lawn or citrus fertilizers as they contain too much nitrogen. Nitrogen is 'junk food for plants', they love it, but too much is not good.
Lime. To ensure balanced uptake and use of nutrients bedding plants require soil to be slightly acid (pH 6.0-6.5). Most soils only need pH adjustment if a lot of chemical fertilizer is used. pH test kits are cheap and easy to use, check the pH before adding lime at the rates recommended by the manufacturer.
Gypsum. Clay soils can be almost impossible to work with, preventing even the addition of compost or manure. Adding Gypsum quickly creates a crumbly, useable soil from sticky clay. Organic material can then be added for a long-term improvement to the soil structure.
Always use clean containers. When re-using a container, wash it first with dilute household bleach. This will kill off fungal diseases that may infect your new plants.
We cannot recommend highly enough that fresh, quality, potting mix is used every time plants are potted into containers. Re-potting with fresh potting mix is also the most effective pick-me-up for tired, stale looking plants. Fresh potting mix has the best balance of structure, pH and fertilizer. Old potting mix makes great compost.
Potting mixes are not cheap. If you do wish to re-use a mix, remember to replenish fertilizer, water storing crystals and ‘re-wetting’ agents, there is a whole range of these products available from your garden centre.
Many annual seedlings originated in dry climates for example Petunia, Portulaca, Marigold and Zinnia require very little water once established, making them ideally suited to our own environment. When planting firm the roots into the soil and leave a small depression around each plant to hold water. Water in slowly and heavily. The initial watering is the most important as it washes large air spaces and excess fertilizer away from the roots, while settling the seedlings in.
Check water requirements daily until your plants have settled in (about 2 weeks), then water only on demand. The most effective watering is done in the cool of the morning or evening. Try to direct water to the plants roots, it is not necessary to wet the foliage and certainly not the footpath.
Mulch. The importance of mulch cannot be over emphasized in our climate. A good layer of mulch saves water, protects seedling roots, prevents the soil compacting, keeps weeds down and produces healthier, happier plants. Mulching around seedlings is fiddly, take care not to smother the plants. Don’t forget to mulch your pots too!
Click here to download a more detailed 'Waterwise Gardening with Flowering Annuals' fact sheet.