Mailbox Garden Idea #3: A Simple Iris Bed for Color and Height

img 0147 300x225 Mailbox Garden Idea #3: A Simple Iris Bed for Color and Height

You don’t have to spend a fortune, or branch into plants-unknown if you want to have reliable blooms, and healthy foliage around your mailbox.  For the gardener who wants to keep things simple, a large bed of Irises around the mailbox provides March through May color, and lasting green foliage!

Fall is the best time to plant Irises if you want to guarantee spring blooming, so get your trowel ready!  As a very hardy perennial, they can be transplanted almost year-round and survive, but they prefer cooler temperatures, which help them adapt to new environments quickly.

Irises are one of the easiest plants to grow, and can be great fillers for a low-lying mailbox area that may catch a lot of street water. Irises love having their “feet” wet, but they can be equally successful in raised garden beds, and will produce large amounts of blooms with moderate amounts of watering.  A spot prime for Irises ideally will be an area that has a little shade, and soil that has some organic material in it, with a little sand mixed in (play sand from Home Depot can be substituted).

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Mailbox Gardening: Zinnia Beds For Scorching Summer Color

img 0284 225x300 Mailbox Gardening: Zinnia Beds For Scorching Summer ColorFor some reason mailboxes are the last frontier in gardening.  Untouched and forlorn, most mailboxes sit naked on the curbside until a work-weary homeowner starts watching too much HGTV to unwind, or discovers a need to spruce up the curb appeal of their house to entice homebuyers.  Where have all the mailbox gardeners gone? I’d like to see more of what I call “Memorable Mailboxes,” so I’m going to begin my crusade for universal curb appeal with a recurring segment on mailbox gardening.  I want you to have a mailbox that boldly declares “Leave my Mortgage Statements here!”

Full Sun Stunner:  Zinnias Raise The Bar On Non-Stop Summer Blooms

Zinnias are amazing summer plants!  Requiring only a simple flower bed, a little water, full sun, and room to bloom, these summer flowers will last from late spring to the frost with “dead-heading.”  To plant a Zinnia mailbox bed, I recommend creating an edged, and slightly raised bed with topsoil mixed with leaf compost, or homemade compost, and optional fertilizer (either commercial grade granular formula, or a time-release capsul like Osmocote Mailbox Gardening: Zinnia Beds For Scorching Summer Color).  I plant groups of Zinnias about 3 inches apart to create a little fullness to a bed design before the plants really begin to root and take off growing.  Plant your Zinnias below the dirt line just lightly covered by a half inch of soil, and a lite dusting of mulch.  For hot weather plantings, give your Zinnias a head start by planting them, and watering them immediately before mulching, and watering again after mulching, to lock in moisture around the new root system.  Zinnias need only one or two weekly waterings, dependent on temperature, and rainfall, and prefer well drained soil.  Generally mulch will assist the plant in maintaining the minimal moisture Zinnias need for optimal health.  If your Zinnias begin to wilt, up the number of weekly waterings to compensate for dry weather.

Summer care: To keep your Zinnias cheerfully in bloom, deadhead with scissors blooms that begin to turn black on the petal tips, or fade.  These “spent” blooms have done their work, and trimming the blooms one or two leaves down from the flower will encourage constant growth, and flowering over the summer months.  Flower heads can be either discarded in the flowerbed for self-seeding, or dried in paper bags to catch seeds to be preserved for the following year.

Tips: Pruning doesn’t have to be a chore, you can keep a small pair of children’s scissors, or bypass pruners in the back of the mailbox, as a rainproof solution for quick “dead-heading!”  Then, whenever you check your mail, the tools you need to upkeep your garden are already at hand, and your postal worker will still have ample room inside the average mailbox to place mail, and small packages.

Your thoughts: Have you decorated your mailbox?  Have a picture?  I’d love to see it!  You can send it to my gmail account, greengardenista, I would love to post it here for the world to see!  Or, if you have a flickr photostream, include that link in a comment so the world can see it there!  icon smile Mailbox Gardening: Zinnia Beds For Scorching Summer Color

(Beautiful link picture by Sean Dreilinger)