• By Faye Kuosman, Extension Agent

Horticulture: Sidedressing annual flowers

Modern annual flowers have been bred to flower early and over a long period of time. They are not as easily thrown off flowering by high nitrogen levels as vegetables are. As a matter of fact, providing nitrogen through the growing season (sidedressing) can help maintain an effective flower display for warm-season flowers.

Apply a high nitrogen sidedressing four to six weeks after flowers have been set out. Additional fertilizations every three to four weeks can be helpful during a rainy summer, or if flower beds are irrigated. Common sources of nitrogen-only fertilizers include nitrate of soda, urea, and ammonium sulfate. Blood meal is an organic fertilizer that contains primarily, but not exclusively, nitrogen. Use only one of the listed fertilizers and apply at the rate given below.

• Nitrate of soda (16-0-0): Apply 1/3 pound (.75 cup) fertilizer per 100 square feet.

• Blood Meal (12-1.5-.6): Apply seven ounces (7/8 cup) fertilizer per 100 square feet.

• Urea (46-0-0): Apply two ounces (1/4 cup) fertilizer per 100 square feet.

• Ammonium Sulfate (21-0-0): Apply four ounces (½ cup) fertilizer per 100 square feet.

If you cannot find those materials, you can use a lawn fertilizer that is about 30 percent nitrogen (nitrogen is the first number in the set of three) and apply it at the rate of three ounces (3/8 cup) per 100 square feet. Physiological leaf curl in tomatoes

Every year, we have calls from gardeners who have tomato plants with leaves that curl up. When tomato plants grow vigorously in mild, spring weather, the top growth often exceeds the root development. When the first few days of warm, dry summer weather hit, the plant ‘realizes’ that it has a problem and needs to increase its root development. The plant tries to reduce its leaf area by rolling leaves. The leaves curl along the length of the leaf (leaflet) in an upward fashion. It is often accompanied by a thickening of the leaf giving it a leathery texture. Leaf roll is worse on some varieties than others. Though rolling usually occurs during the spring to summer shift period, it may also occur after a heavy cultivating or hoeing, a hard rain, or any sudden change in weather. This leaf roll is a temporary condition that goes away after a week or so when the plant has a chance to acclimate, recover from injury, or the soil has a chance to dry out.

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