Care of Ornamental Plants in the Garden

Care of Ornamental Plants in the Garden

From facing storms to severe temperatures, taking care of ornamental plants can be a challenge. You need plants to stay attractive and healthy. This requires proper care.

Some plants like English laurels, roses, annual flowers, and red-tip photinia require extra care than others. Plants that require little care include junipers, hollies, and ornamental grasses.

Ornamental plants need to be planted properly and suited to the site. Otherwise, you’re going to put in a lot of effort to maintain them.

So how do you go about caring for ornamental plants in a garden? You need to identify areas that require extra care than others. For instance, a recently planted ornamental plant will require extra care than mature plants.

Let’s dive deep and see steps you can take to care for ornamental plants in a garden.


Fertilizing your garden is a crucial step in maintaining healthy and attractive plants. Ornamental plants, just like other plants, require fertilizer to grow healthily.

This is the case, especially in urban areas where most topsoil has been removed during construction. Fertilization is a simple culture that can be done before planting and during the growth stage.

As indicated earlier, proper care of ornamental plants starts even before planting. Backyard Gardeners Network said that a triple 13 fertilizer can be used to fertilize a new area before planting new ornamental plants. 

This is a great way to ensure your plants develop well from the start making future maintenance easier. The type of fertilizer you apply matters as they differ in nutrient composition. You need to understand the available soil nutrients and what’s missing.

Herbaceous perennials and annuals perform well with liquid or water-soluble fertilizers. But woody ornamentals don’t have an immediate need for fertilizers. Most have food reserves in the roots. They can do well with a slow-release fertilizer.

You can check to know a slow-release granular fertilizer by looking at the back of the bag. If the nitrogen is listed in the form of ammoniacal nitrogen, then it’s a slow-releasing fertilizer.

In some instances, you can also use organic fertilizers like animal manures, cottonseed meal, and bone meal.

Perform a soil test

The best way to determine the right fertilizer to apply is to do a soil test. As a general rule, most ornamental plants will require fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Phosphorus is usually required in fewer amounts. This is because it’s held in the soil and not leached during irrigation.

Overall, fertilizer application hugely depends on the type of ornamental plants and type of fertilizer. New ornamental plants can benefit from a light application done in 4 to 6 weeks intervals.

Tips and guidelines when fertilizing ornamental plants

  • Plants in the shade require less fertilizer than those in the sun areas
  • Broadcast fertilizer should be applied even when leaves are dry
  • Logged fertilizer in foliage should be brushed off before irrigating
  • Don’t remove mulch when fertilizing. Apply the fertilizer on top of the mulch then water
  • When fertilizing ornamental trees, apply the fertilizer to spread 2 to 3 times the canopy area. This is because most tree roots spread beyond the canopy area
  • Don’t concentrate fertilizer in holes under the canopies
  • Annual plants do well with a slow-releasing fertilizer
  • Avoid weeds and feed lawn feeders that contain herbicides around ornamental plants.

Watering and mulching 

Mulching is essential for most ornamental plants and helps retain moisture while preventing weeds. Mulching can help inhibit various soil-borne foliar diseases and prevent weed growth.

The mulch also helps protect the roots from extreme temperatures during the winter and summer seasons. Adding mulch around the plants helps create a buffer zone between the woody ornamental plants and the turf. This helps prevent trunk injury when trimming.

When it comes to watering, most ornamental plants when fully developed can go for days without water. Overwatering can be bad for your ornamental plants.

For example, junipers are drought-tolerant when fully established. They can go for months without water. Excess moisture for extended periods can affect their growth.

You can determine whether your plants need water by checking the plant leaves. Look for signs of wilting or a pale grayish-green color.

But some plants within the garden might require more water than others. These are plants like herbaceous perennials, annuals, rhododendrons, and azaleas.

Water should be applied slowly at the tree base. This helps avoid water runoff and loss. You can use drip irrigation or a handheld hose or sprinkler.

The exact amount of water required depends on the soil type, type of ornamental plant, and existing soil moisture. As a general rule, you need about 6 gallons of water per 10 square canopy or bed area.


Lastly, you can take care of ornamental plants by pruning them. You need to prune to maintain a specific shape and size that’s attractive.

Consider thinning as it works best for ornamental plants. It helps open up the canopy and increase air circulation within the plant.

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