Succession Planting How It Applies to Landscaping

Succession planting how it applies to landscaping.

Written by David S.

Succession planting is a gardening term that allows a gardener to supply the same type of vegetable over a year continuously. For example, if you need 30 carrots per month, you would sow about 45-60 carrot seeds every four weeks. When the first batch of carrots matured and was ready to harvest, you would have started two to three batches of carrots. Carrots take about 70-80 days to mature. So, when your first crop is ready, you would have a second crop that is about 50 days and a third crop that is about 20 days planted. So, every 30 days, you would have a fresh bunch of carrots. That is how succession planting works in a nutshell. 

Applying Succession Planting to Landscaping 

The idea of using succession planting in landscaping has everything to do with keeping flower beds full of blooms as long as possible. When it is impossible, it is time to shift from one blooming plant to another. Here’s a closer look at how that works.

Say you have a flower pot on your front porch that you want to keep full of blooming flowers for as long as possible. To achieve that goal, you could use successive planting. 

  • First, you would make a list of plants that you love and that thrive in your hardiness zone. 
  • Second, you would arrange them by when they bloom. 
  • Third, you would arrange the plants by size. 
  • Fourth you would arrange plants by the color — all the purple blooms that flower in July and that are small. 

What this little list does is first gives you options for plants, secondly gives you an idea of bloom times, and third, it allows you to class plants by size and forth, by color. 

What you should expect from your list

One thing you should expect is that your plant list is likely to be short, especially when it comes to blooming time — which plants bloom when. On the other hand, it is handy to have a robust list because as you get into t his idea of succession planting for landscape, you will want many options.

By arranging the plants by size, bloom date, and color, you gain an excessive amount of control over how your container looks throughout the year. 

Note: When blooming is not available, add texture. Plants that offer texture when blooming is over give you more bang for your buck. Texture can be many things in a plant, such as tall linear growth, gnarled and twisted branching, fibrous leaves. In addition to the color of blooms, you can also gain color from stems. An excellent example of this is ornamental grasses, which offer wispy blooms but a beautiful range of colors from tan to purple to green. 

Setting Up A Plan for Endless Color 

Pick a few plants from the color and size groups. Your goal is to choose plants that bloom right after the previous one stops. For annuals, you would replace the plants once the blooming ends, and you would do so with another plant that is about to bloom. What that does is it keeps your contain in bloom for much longer. You would continue that succession each month. 

January — Pansies and violas — Color section multiple. 

February — Verbena, and Lobelia — color selection purples 

March — Gazania — Color Vibrant Yellows and Golds 

April — Canna — Color Rich Reds 

May — Coleus and Salvia — Color Mixed 

June — Celosia — Color Vibrant Pinks 

July — Butterfly lily and Gladiolus — Colors Cool whites and brazen oranges 

August — Vinca, and Salvia — Colors Periwinkle and pinks 

September — Celosia and Gladiolus — Colors Bright reds and Blues 

October — Dianthus, and Impatients — Colors beautiful soft pinks 

November — Strawflower and Pansy — Warm Fall colors 

December — Begonia — Color bright reds 

These plants thrive in Zone 10 and show us how easy it is to create year-round blooms for a container. You could also apply this list to flower beds or borders along a pathway. 

How To Make This Happen 

Successive planting is how this works. First, carefully figure out the days to harvest or blooms for each plant you choose to add to your arsenal of color. Also, note the approximate date you need these plants. Then, start seeds accordingly; if it takes 45 days for a begonia to bloom and you need them on December 1, plant seeds around October 15th. 

For my garden and growing plans, I find it helpful to make a calendar. I also keep a garden journal where I list the chores I do by date, what I plant, and how plants are progressing. I find that information very essential because plants have a way of going what they want. For example, One year, I planted calendula seed 30 days before transplanting the seedlings. Unfortunately, it took nearly 30 days for the seeds to sprout. So, that crop was about three weeks behind schedule. What that lesson taught me was always to have a backup. Now when something takes longer to come to bloom, I have a substitute ready. A little trick that works well for me is to keep a tray of seedlings around with various plants you may need over the next month. I tuck them into small spaces in planters, beds, and along pathways. That backup resource empowers me to keep my yard full of blooms. 

Products that Can help make Successive Planting successful include:

  • Seed modules and trays — I prefer reusable. 2″ Anderson pots are ideal because they will last you for twenty years. They are the perfect size for starting seeds, and you can transplant seedlings from 2-inch pots to 4-inch pots as they grow. 
  • Quality garden soil — I am a massive fan of FoxFarms soil, but other brands too offer quality, such as Black Gold and EB STone. I keep a mix of soil for starting seeds in a 35-gallon plastic garbage can with a lid on it. It makes an easy receptacle for soil, and I can mix in amendments right there. I like to have perlite on hand as well as peat moss for starting seeds. 
  • Begin a collection of beautiful pots. You can transplant it into a new pot and replace it with spent flowers — This is especially helpful if you have perennials in the pot. There are times when you may also wish to add more pots to your landscape, and having extra pots around is very handy. 
  • A library of seeds is a beautiful thing to have. As you continue this journey, you will end up with a seed collection. They are lovely and inspiring. 

When in doubt about what to plant, stop by the Green Thumb Nursery nearest you. You can bring a notebook and make notations about what is in bloom and the colors available. It is very inspiring to walk along the rows of plants and see what you can achieve. 

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