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March 2010

Question I am new to the gardening scene and have recently relocated to Mountain View. My dad is encouraging me to plant several rows of flowers in one end of his vegetable garden. The soil is mostly sandy loam, and the garden gets full sun. I would like bright colored plants (reds, pink, and yellow) that are no more than 2 feet tall. Can you recommend varieties of flowers that should do well within these criteria? Also, what fertilizer should I use?

Answer You have many options. I assume you want annual flowers –which means you will replant every year, but that gives you new opportunities every season. For full sun you can plant lantana –comes in red, orange, yellow and multi-colored; penta – red, pink or white; zinnias –a huge color range; angelonia – pink, purple or white; petunias –look for the wave type or Bubblegum pink is a strong performer in pink—but they do come in red, purple and white colors too. Callibrachoa comes in pink, purple, orange or yellow and looks like a miniature petunia. These are all summer annuals and you need to hold off on planting until mid April—give the soil a chance to warm up. Incorporate a complete fertilizer—I like the slow release forms like osmocote, dynamite or similar product, at planting, then use a water soluble form like Miracle-Gro, Peter’s or similar every week to ten days if you really want to push them. I have good intentions to fertilize that often, but usually don’t do it more than once a month. Annual plants benefit from regular fertilizer but they will still bloom if you aren’t as diligent. Of course, keep up with watering and mulch the plants to discourage weeds.

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