For beautiful blooms and easy color, you can’t beat tropical shrubs. Granted, bedding plants such as impatiens or marigolds give your yard color, but because of their height, tropical shrubs provide even more color a little higher up. ‘Orange Peel’ cestrum (pictured), firebush, jatropha, angel’s trumpets, yellow bells, Turk’s cap, and thryallis are all good choices. Plant them in full sun for the most blooms. Set off their petals with bright tropical foliage such as bananas, cannas, and acalyphas.
Editor's Pick―Trugs are handy for any gardener. Lightweight and flexible, they can be used for chores such as weeding, gathering vegetables, deadheading, mixing soil, and even watering. Look for them at your local garden center or hardware store, or buy them online from one of our favorite sources, Gardener’s Supply Company.
Color Combos―Get ready for summer and dress up your garden by adding some colorful heat-tolerant plants before the weather gets hotter. A good trio for a sunny area is ‘Petra’ crotons at the back of the bed with ‘Orange Marmalade’ crossandras at the front and ‘Andromeda’ heliconias to the side. A pleasing mix for a lightly shaded area is ‘Tricolor’ stromanthe to the back, ‘Candidum’ caladiums to the front, and ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ alternanthera to the side.
North and Central
Lawn Weeds―Early May is the time to apply a pre-emergence herbicide such as Gallery 75 Dry Flowable Specialty Herbicide to prevent the germination of chamber bitter (the all-too-common weed with mimosa-like leaves and a line of round seedpods on the undersides of the stems). Isoxaben, the active ingredient in Gallery, is safe for all warm-season lawns when used according to directions.
Herbs and Veggies―Now that the soil has warmed, add herbs such as basil, Mexican tarragon, rosemary, and fennel to a sunny spot. Feed vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers with a fertilizer such as Espoma Tomato-tone or Schultz Tomato & Vegetable Slow-Release Plant Food.
Central and South
Citrus and Palms―Feed citrus and palms (both are heavy feeders) with a special fertilizer such as Schultz Citrus & Tropical Slow-Release Plant Food; Vigoro Palm, Ixora & Ornamental Plant Food; or Lesco Palm and Tropical Ornamental Fertilizer. These have lower amounts of nitrogen and supply needed micronutrients.