- Where can I buy seeds to grow my own flowers on the Prairie Star list?
As a research trial we receive plant material straight from the plant breeders, and have no control over where the plants are available for sale. That being said, we do try to make sure that all the varieties on the Prairie Star list are still on the market and can be obtained by garden centers. Many cultivars can be grown from seed, and it should be fairly easy to find things like Zinnias and Marigolds in many major seed catalogs. However, a large percent is vegetatively propagated from cuttings. These are generally not available in small quantities that homeowners will use. Check with local garden centers - nobody is likely to carry all the varieties on the Prairie Star list, but most garden centers should carry some.
- When should I plant my annual flowers?
When to plant is based on soil temperature and not the calendar. Some cultivars tolerate cool soil, while others require warm soils. When the soil temp is around 65 degrees, Petunias, Begonias, and Snapdragons can go in the ground. This is typically late April/early May in Kansas. More sensitive crops like Vinca (Catharanthus), Celosia, and Pentas need soil temperatures of 68-70 degrees, which is usually mid/late May in Kansas. Most everything else falls in between.
- How do I fertilize my annual flowers?
Simply put, annuals bloom on new growth. The stem of the plant has to grow a little longer to make room for the next flower. If there's no new growth, there will be no flowers. So you need to give the plants frequent light applications of Nitrogen (N). But be sure to avoid excess - that will lead to all green growth and no flowers. Like everything in life, a little is good but too much can quickly turn harmful. It is also important to know that Phosphorus (P) does not influence flowering. Fertilizers with levels of Phosphorus higher than the amount of Nitrogen should be avoided. An ideal fertilizer for flowers should have a nutrient ratio of 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 (N-P-K) such as 12-4-4.
- Where are you located and can I come look at the flower trials?
Yes, you can come visit! The K-State Horticulture Research & Extension Center is located at 35230 W. 135th Street in Olathe, KS. We are open from 8-4 M-F. We are not set up to visit individually, but feel free to browse on your own. Every plant is labeled. The best time of year to come see the flowers is July and August. Please check in with someone first, as we do lock the gate at the end of the day.
If you want to visit the Research Center when experts are on hand to give walk-and-talk tours of all the ongoing research, there is an Open House held the last Saturday of July. Visit the Johnson County Extension website for more details on the schedule closer to the date.
- How do I get a copy of the Prairie Star list?
The Prairie Star publication is available for free downloading or purchasing through the K-State Research & Extension Bookstore. You can also visit your local Extension office in the state of Kansas to obtain a copy. If you want to see pictures of all the plants, visit our other website www.prairiestarflowers.org.