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Annuals/Annuals for sun planted in part-sun.


New in my Condominium, I was asked to plant the grounds with annuals.  I asked about hours of sunlight an somehow misunderstood the information given.  The committee asked for a riot of colour" for the enjoyment of the seniors that mainly live here.  I have planted the following in areas that seemingly (as I was told today)only receive up to 3 hours of sunlight per day and in some cases are in dappled shade:

dappled shade:  marigolds, wave petunia
3 hrs. sunlight:  portulaca, seed geranium, 4 o'clock, cleome

I need these plants to produce showy colourful blooms. They are too numerous to replant.  Can fertilizing these flowers stimulate them to thrive without adequate sunlight.  Can you help me with this dilemma?  I am very worried.
Thank you so much.

Dappled shade will do nothing for your Petunias and Marigolds.  They must repeat MUST be moved.

Gardeners often try to compensate for reduced sun by providing extra vitamins, minerals and plant "food".  This is impossible.  You cannot replace sunlight with minerals.  Plants make their own food (think back to junior high school autotrophs and lessons on chlorophyll).  They do this by taking sun, light, and air.  "Plant food" is not really plant food.  It's molecules the plant uses to grow using the energy it gets from photosynthesis.  More on that here:

Extra molecules in fertilizer cannot be used without extra energy, and that is only available from extra light -- the opposite of what you are providing.  They must be moved.

I understand this is impossible, but impossible is your only option if you want to grow those plants you bought.

The least light-dependent plants on your list are -- let's change that to IS -- the Four O'clocks.  They will not thrive, but they will flower.  Pity, this, because Catherine, you hit the nail on the head in every other conceivable way.  The show you would have set would have been absolutely perfect, if only there was sun.

I know you want a second opinion on this.  Don't wait.  These must be moved.  It's an energy problem.  You cannot run a car without gas, no matter how much water you put in the radiator.  You can PUSH the car.  You can stand there with a full spectrum light.  Yes, that works.

But not for you.

Now it is POSSIBLE the "3 hours of sunlight" is incorrect.  That, now, might be a possibility.  I worry though that this was "up to" 3 hours.  That means this is the high end of the sun exposure.  I wish this could be remedied.  You cannot.  Accept the things you cannot change.  Heat, fertilizer, prayer will not change 3 hours of sunlight into the 6 to 12 hours these plants need.  They have sun-loving chlorophyll in their veins -- different chlorophyll in impatiens and ivy and shade-happy leaves.  And in sun, they are gorgeous.

Now I have something else to say.

We all make mistakes.  Every single one of us, Catherine.  There is not a gardener on this planet who has not made THIS one, most of us MANY times.  We do it with other people's money and suddenly it is a disaster.  But it is not.  It is a human error.  You must see this for what it is.  An honest mistkae that anyoen could make and apparently was not entirely YOUR mistake, if yours even at all.

This is not a matter of high or low standards, perfection or imperfection, good or bad gardening or responsibility or blame or failure.  It is a mistake.  Period.  End of story.

"Deal with it" is not really what is called for.  We make them.  We learn.  This is a wonderful lesson.  I love gardening, more than anything in the world, but this does get emotional sometimes, and people raise it to the level of life and death.  Look at the flowers that end up at people's funerals, and then they go home to someone's house, and the person grieves when the flowers die -- how many times I have dealt with questions from people desperate to bring back a dead plant.  Or a rose that was planted by a dying husband.  Or a Canna that was not watered and is now beyond saving.

Coleus would be beautiful.  Impatiens.  Bluestone perennials has a plant-finder for this situation.  But I have a feeling you know what will grow in shade and semishade.  Keep the faith,



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Decisions, decisions... If you can't make up your mind which Annuals to grow, you're not alone. Problem with your new flowering Annuals flats? I`ve been there, done that. Petunias, Sweet Alyssum, Larkspur, Marine Blue Lobelia -- they all grow here at my house on Garden Street on Long Island, N.Y.. Cutting and Cottage Gardens, Sun and Shade Gardens, White Gardens and Night Gardens, I`ve done them all. Annuals are the perfect summer flower, bursting with color June through fall's first frost. I can`t speak on Cactus or tender Tropical Plants -- they don`t grow outside in my Zone 7. I`m no Farmer, so I cannot guide you on Fruits and Vegetables. But whether it`s an Annual you want to start from seed, mail-order or pick up at your local garden center, I can help you grow amazing blooms this Summer. Yes, together, we can turn your neighbors green with envy.


I have a lifetime of gardening behind me here on the North Shore of Long Island. While I have degrees in related fields, there's nothing like hands-on work to build real knowledge. I stay on top of current science -- there's a boom in research, and Kingdom Plantae is filled with surprises. By the way, I really do live on Garden Street.

Gannett newspapers, The New York Times, and hundreds of others - but not on Annuals.

B.A., botany; graduate credits in European Intellectual History and Political Science; minor coursework in related fields, docent training at our local botanical gardens (required for volunteers). I'm currently working on an advanced biochemistry degree.

Awards and Honors
I could tell you, but then you'd know who I am.

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