Blooms to Beat the Heat

Let us show you which plants need little attention through the warm weather.

Most people have a hard time pulling up flowering plants. In late May, spring bloomers such as pansies still provide a little color in the garden, but they begin to grow leggy and their bloom size decreases. Don't wait for cool-weather plants to totally decline, pull them out, and start planting for the summer.

Most summer-blooming bedding plants do best when they're put out in May and June before summer becomes unbearable. This gives them a chance to root in, get established, and endure late-summer droughts.

Take a look at some of the plants that performed well for us in the landscape. Texas sage (Salvia coccinea), purple heart, lantana, and narrow-leaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) are favorite summer beauties that beat the heat. It's a good thing we used these tough plants, because part of the summer we were unable to water due to drought-imposed watering restrictions.

TIPS FOR YOUR SUMMER GARDEN
When adding color to your garden, don't forget about foliage plants. Purple heart, sweet potato vine, ornamental grasses, elephant's ears, ferns, coleus, and caladiums add bold colors and wonderful textures to the garden. And don't limit yourself--try colorful, tropical plants that thrive in the heat.

Avoid using too many hot colors such as red or orange. Instead, mix in cooling whites and blues. Don't use too many different hues or your garden will look chaotic and busy.

When your plants do need a drink, water them well. Try to soak the first couple of inches of soil, watering as little as possible and letting your soil dry a bit between waterings. Twice a week waterings are usually sufficient. Don't water daily, and remember frequent overhead waterings can cause plants to become infected with fungus or other disease. When possible, use drip irrigation systems and soaker hoses to minimize runoff. Make sure plants have a thick mat of mulch around them to help retain moisture, keep out weeds, and dress up beds. Every few years add some organic matter, such as finely-shredded pine bark, sphagnum peat moss, mushroom compost, or leaf mold to beds.

Use a tiller or turning fork to mix the organic material thoroughly, loosening the soil and making it easy to dig and plant.