Choose The Perfect Spot To Grow Black Cardinal
To grow black cardinal successfully, choosing an ideal location is key. Select a spot in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Black cardinal thrives in sunny areas. It also prefers fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7.
The soil should be loose, humus-rich, and free draining. Before planting, work in compost or peat moss to improve soil structure and provide nutrients. Soil with high organic matter and the proper pH will help black cardinal establish healthy roots and produce abundant blossoms.
Aside from plenty of light and well-amended soil, black cardinal also needs consistent access to water. The soil should remain moist but not soggy. Never let it dry out completely. Water the plant regularly, especially in hot or dry weather. For the best growth and flowering, fertilize black cardinal every few weeks during the growing season. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer and follow the directions on the product packaging.
Prepare The Soil For Black Cardinal
To prepare the soil for black cardinal, start by testing your soil’s pH to determine if it needs adjustment. The ideal pH range for black cardinal is between 6 and 7, slightly acidic to neutral. If your soil is too alkaline, mix in elemental sulfur to lower the pH. For acidic soil, use ground limestone to increase pH.
Next,check the soil texture and drainage. Black cardinal prefers loose, fertile and well-draining soil. Heavy clay soil will not provide the drainage this plant needs and should be amended. Mix in 2 to 3 inches of compost or peat moss before planting to improve soil structure.
Compost provides organic matter that helps loosen dense soil, improves drainage and aeration, and adds nutrients. Peat moss, which is acidic, can also help balance soil pH for black cardinal. Other amendments you can add include:
- Perlite: Lightweight additive that improves drainage and aeration. Mix in up to 1/3 perlite.
- Vermiculite: Also helps with drainage and aeration. Add up to 1/3 vermiculite.
- Sand: Mix in up to 1/3 medium grade sand to improve drainage in clay soil.
- Rotted manure: Adds organic matter and nutrients. Use well-rotted manure and mix in up to 1/4 by volume.
Here is a table summarizing the key soil requirements for black cardinal:
|pH||6 to 7 (slightly acidic to neutral)|
|Soil Type||Loose, fertile and well-draining|
|Drainage||Excess water must be able to drain away from roots|
|Nutrients||Rich in organic matter and humus to provide nutrients for growth|
|Amendments||Compost, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, sand, rotted manure|
Once you prepare the ideal soil, your black cardinal will have the best chance at thriving in your garden. Be sure to also choose a spot with plenty of sunlight and maintain even soil moisture for your black cardinal.
Watering And Fertilizing Black Cardinal
Watering is key to growing healthy black cardinal. The soil should remain consistently and evenly moist, never allowing it to dry out completely. Water black cardinal regularly, especially during hot or dry weather. As a general rule, water the plant about an inch per week. Check the top few inches of soil before watering to make sure it is nearly dry.
Black cardinal also appreciates fertilizer during the growing season. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A 10-10-10 or similar formula will work well. Here are some tips for fertilizing black cardinal:
- Start fertilizing in early spring after new growth begins to emerge.
- Fertilize every few weeks through summer. Reduce or stop feeding by mid to late fall.
- Follow the directions on the product packaging to determine how much and how often to feed.
- As a general rule, use half the recommended strength. Too much fertilizer can burn the roots.
- Water the plant thoroughly before applying fertilizer. Never apply to dry soil.
- Spread the fertilizer evenly around the base of the plant and gently rake it into the top few inches of soil.
- After applying fertilizer, water the soil again to help move the nutrients into the root zone.
Here is a suggested fertilizer schedule for black cardinal:
|March-May||Every 3-4 weeks|
|June-August||Every 2-3 weeks|
|September||Once, at half recommended strength|
|October-February||Do not fertilize|
In addition to balanced fertilizer, black cardinal will benefit from annual feeding with compost or compost tea. Top dress the soil around the plant with an inch of compost in early spring before new growth starts. The compost will provide organic nutrients to enrich the soil and support plant health. Compost tea can also be used as a foliar spray during the growing season.
Be diligent about properly watering and feeding your black cardinal, especially in the heat of summer. Your care and attention will be rewarded with strong, prolific plant growth and abundant blossoms.
Pruning And Propagating Black Cardinal
Pruning black cardinal after flowering will promote healthy new growth and improve the plant’s shape and fullness. Use sharp, clean pruning shears and cut the plant back by about one third. Remove dead or damaged stems as well as stems that are crossing or rubbing each other. Shape the plant by cutting longer stems back to an outward facing bud.
Pruning will also encourage black cardinal to produce new stems from the base, creating a fuller, bushier plant. The new stems that grow in will produce flowers by the end of summer. An annual pruning, coupled with regular fertilizer, will keep black cardinal looking its best and flowering reliably every year.
Black cardinal can be propagated in several ways:
Dividing mature plants is an easy way to produce new plants. Divide black cardinal in early summer after flowering has finished. Use a sharp shovel to slice through the roots and separate a portion that has both roots and stems. Replant the divisions promptly and water thoroughly. Divisions may produce flowers by late summer.
Stem cuttings will also root and produce new plants. In early summer, select healthy new growth and remove cuttings that are 3 to 6 inches long. Remove leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. Dip in rooting hormone (optional) and place in a well-draining rooting medium such as perlite or a mixture of peat moss and perlite. Keep medium moderately moist and cover cuttings with a plastic bag. Roots should form in 1 to 2 months.
Seed propagation, while slower, is a simple way to produce new plants. Collect seeds in late fall after seed pods split open. Sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last spring frost. Bury seeds 1/4 inch deep in seed starting mix. Place in a warm area with temperatures of 65 to 70 F.
Once new plants have been propagated and develop roots, they can be transplanted into the garden. Choose a spot with well-draining soil and full sun exposure. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Water thoroughly after transplanting and regularly for the first few weeks as new plants establish. Fertilize new plants every few weeks during the first growing season to encourage vigorous growth.
With annual pruning, propagation, and care, black cardinal will thrive and provide beauty in the garden for many years. New plants can be shared with gardening friends or planted in other areas of the garden to create colorful floral displays.