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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
Flowers tested by K-State for the prairie climate
Locating a flower bed
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About this blog
By Dr. Stevens
Dr. Stevens has been at Kansas State University for over 20 years researching flowers. He serves as the State Extension Specialist in Floriculture and is director of the Horticulture Research Center in Olathe, KS Robin R. Dremsa is a Research ...
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Prairie Star Flowers
Dr. Stevens has been at Kansas State University for over 20 years researching flowers. He serves as the State Extension Specialist in Floriculture and is director of the Horticulture Research Center in Olathe, KS Robin R. Dremsa is a Research Associate who manages the flower trials. She's been at the K-State Hort. Research & Extension Center since 2007.
Recent Posts
July 9, 2014 11:20 a.m.
June 24, 2014 11:25 a.m.
June 18, 2014 11:25 a.m.
June 11, 2014 11:20 a.m.
May 29, 2014 5:20 p.m.
April 18, 2013 4:15 p.m.

Landscape design tip

Flowers need sun - more sun more flowers, less sun less flowers.  It really is that simple.  A location with full sun all day will provide the most colorful flower display.  There are few plants that bloom with significant flower displays in the shade.  For years we have relied on colorful foliage of hostas (perennial) and coleus (annual) to provide color in shady areas.  I have never met anyone who has purchased a hosta or coleus for the beauty of their flowers.  

There is a major problem with growing flowers in all day full sun here on the prairie.  The environment in full sun is very harsh.  The problem is not the temperature of the sun.  It does not change.  The sun is no hotter in the afternoon than it is in the morning, but the environment in full sun is harsher in the afternoon than in the morning. The air temperature is hotter.  The relative humidity is lower (dryer) and the drying wind blows stronger.  It is hotter, drier and windier.  The challenge in growing beautiful flowers here on the prairie is then to locate and plant the flower beds in a way that will make the environment less harsh. The best way to accomplish this is with a windbreak.  If we slow or stop the wind we can reduce its drying effects, slow the rate of evaporation from the surface of the leaves, and raise the relative humidity in the microclimate around the plants.  The environment around our flowers will be much less harsh.

We do not need to plant giant walls of evergreens to provide a windbreak.  Our annuals will be dead when winter comes so deciduous plants will work just fine.  Remember our dominant winds in the summer are from the south, southwest.  To protect our flowers we need to plant windbreaks on the south to southwest side of our color spots. The plants used for these "windbreaks" can be anything a little taller than the flowering plants we will plant in front of them.  Medium size shrubs, ornamental grasses (annual or perennial), and several taller growing annuals that are heat and drought tolerant work well as windbreaks.


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The perennial grass Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' provides a good windbreak for the annual flowers Blue Salvia and Vinca.
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This example from South Park in Lawrence, KS shows annual Hibiscus planted on the southwest side of the petunia 'Supertunia Vista Silverberry.'

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