Blooms by the thousands will help Reynoldsburg kick off the spring planting season.

More than 6,000 annuals are being raised in the city's two greenhouses, for planting at locations around Reynoldsburg, including the senior citizens center and the Livingston House and in containers and hanging baskets along East Main Street.

The city grows more than three dozen varieties of flowers, including strawflowers, begonias, celosia and marigolds, said Ryan Lauber, Reynoldsburg's horticulturist.

Beginning in February, he turns about $2,300 worth of seeds and plant plugs into annuals that will be distributed to volunteers to transplant around town during the city's yearly Plant Reynoldsburg Day. Lauber spends months adjusting fertilizers, watering and nurturing the flowers and plants.

"The greenhouses afford the city the ability to purchase the flowers in very small plug forms, from wholesale greenhouses at a fraction of the cost of a finished plant in a typical, 4-inch pot that you would see at a local garden center," said Donna Bauman, parks and recreation director.

Plant Reynoldsburg Day -- slated for May 18 -- will focus on filling the planting beds around City Hall, 7232 E. Main St., Bauman said.

Started about 16 years ago, the annual volunteer day runs from 9 a.m. to noon and is open to all ages. Groups and families are welcome and volunteers are asked to bring their own garden gloves.

"Typically, City Hall will be completely planted on Plant Reynoldsburg Day. If time and the number of volunteers allows, we may plant at the Senior Center," Bauman said. "Plant Reynoldsburg Day signals the beginning of warmer temperatures and it's a great way to bring the community together.

"This is an opportunity for residents of all ages and abilities to help beautify our community."

More than four dozen hanging baskets throughout the Olde Reynoldsburg area will be filled with sun-tolerant begonias this year -- a first for the city -- and trailing portulaca, Lauber said.

Lauber earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Ohio State University and has a background in residential landscape design. He's been the city horticulturist for nearly four years and said he wants to "push it beyond pretty flowers."

"I'm always trying to do something different and I want to give the public something interesting," Lauber said.

Not everything is a success, however. An attempt at growing dahlias proved to be more trouble than they're worth, he said.

One year's yellow, black and gray color scheme didn't go over so well, he said.

"It wasn't a strong diversity of color and I got some feedback," Lauber said. "It's a learning process on what the public wants to see, what are they going to consider colorful and vibrant."

City Hall has its own irrigation system, but when it was inoperable for much of last year, Lauber moved toward flowers that could better withstand dry conditions.

Zinnias, salvias, and marigolds -- 800 of them grown from seed this year -- will be able to withstand a hot, dry summer, Lauber said.

Public gardens

If your green thumb needs more room, Reynoldsburg has more than 5 acres of public garden space, with more than 80 plots available for rent throughout the growing season.

Plots at the Livingston Community Garden, 6305 E. Livingston Ave., and the Civic Community Garden at 6800 Daugherty Drive, are available on a first-come, first-served basis through June 14.

Full-size plots measure 10 feet by 20 feet and cost $40 for residents; $50 for nonresidents. Plots may be split in half for $20 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

Most types of vegetables, herbs and flowers are permitted and water access is provided.

To register for Plant Reynoldsburg Day or to reserve a garden plot, call the city's parks and recreation department at 614-322-6806.