Carol Link offers gardening tips

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Q: I planted a packet of zinnia seeds this spring, and the plants are absolutely gorgeous now. How to save the seeds of these flowers for planting next year?

A: Let the withered zinnia flowers on the stems die and dry out. Once the flowers are completely dry, the seeds are ready to store. Do this by pulling the petals out of the center of each flower. The seeds are found at the ends of the petals and are shaped like an arrowhead. They’re brown and pointy at one end, with a wide base at the other end, and they’re about half an inch long. They will need to be stored properly. Take them inside and spread them out on a paper towel to dry them. In a few days, when they are completely dry, store them in a small zippered plastic bag. Print the name of the seeds on the outside of the bag and indicate the year they were stored. Place the plastic bags in a box or jar in your refrigerator until they are ready to be planted the following spring.

Q: I bought two angel trumpets from Etowah County Master Gardeners several years ago. I planted them in my garden in a planting bed in front of a wooden fence, in full sun for most of the day. They are planted in very good soil and I always water them well. We add compost to the soil every year. We also cover the plants with mulch. Angel’s trumpets die off every winter and don’t start growing again until late summer, and they never reach full adult size. Some years, they develop a few flowers. When I bought these plants, the Master Gardeners had very large angel trumpets and I thought mine would grow like this. What am I doing wrong?

A: Angel trumpets (Brugmansia) are tropical plants. The aerial part of the plant will not survive outdoors in the landscape, in this area, in winter. When planted in the landscape, an angel’s trumpet will die each winter and begin to grow back each summer; in a single growing season, they never have time to grow to a large size and produce a lot of flowers. If you want to grow a large angel trumpet, you will need to grow the plant in a container and store the container in a greenhouse or conservatory for the winter. This way the plant will grow to a large size and produce tons of flowers each year.

Q: How often should I water my hydrangeas each spring and summer? I water mine about once a week. Is it sufficient?

A: For best results, in the summer you should water the plant at least every other day to encourage the plant and its root system to grow. Always apply plenty of water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the flowers and leaves. If you water in the morning, your hydrangeas won’t wilt on hot days.

Carol (Bonnie) Link is a Master Gardener in Etowah County and a seasoned garden writer. Her weekly column is designed to help and encourage others in their gardening efforts. Send your questions or comments to [email protected]

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