Story by SHARON ST. JOHN // May/June 2017
Don’t worry when spring’s glorious blossoms start to fade away in the heat. A delightful selection of flowers and a few tips will keep the garden blooming all through summer and into fall.
Whether enhancing an existing flower garden or starting a new one, begin by creating a garden design plan and do diligent research before buying plants.
When looking through garden books, keep in mind that some plants are not suited for every area. Soil type, climate and other conditions make huge differences in how well plants thrive in a given area.
Consider what you want a summer blooming plant to accomplish. Cooler colors, such as blue, purple, white, soft yellow and light pink, create a serene feeling and soften the garden. Hot colors, such as red, orange and bright yellow, create a vibrant appearance and energize the garden.
Depend on old-fashion heirloom plants to provide color in the summer. Hollyhock is available in several colors and adds height. It looks great sticking up from behind evergreen shrubs or in the back of a bed of perennials.
Another wonderful heirloom is confederate rose. A member of the hibiscus family, it is hardy and returns every year. Angel’s trumpet is a breathtaking tall plant with cascading flowers. Keep in mind that the plant’s flowers are poisonous if ingested.
Agapanthus, a plant that produces blossoms of light blue, white and deep blue, looks wonderful in groups of six to eight plants. Easy to grow, it is perfect for shady areas. During a semi-mild winter, agapanthus produces lush foliage. It blooms from mid-May through mid-June.
The passion flower and clematis are gorgeous blooming vines. Fast growing, they can cover fences or arbors with continuous flowers.
It’s always fun to plant annuals to fill in bare areas in the garden during summer. Pentas is a good selection. It grows to about 12 inches tall and fills out to about 10 to 12 inches in width. Available in red, pink, white and lavender, it repeatedly blooms until the first freeze and requires very little care.
Globe amaranth is an annual that works well in a container or in a bed with perennial plants. Because it doesn’t require a lot of water, it can be planted along side native plants that don’t need much water.
To help a flower thrive in the heat, apply bone meal when planting it. Bone meal is organic and adds to the soil phosphorus and calcium, nutrients that many fertilizers do not provide. It is safe to add bone meal to vegetable and herb gardens.
To promote root growth, pour a mixture of root stimulator with water around the base of a plant on top of the soil. These products are inexpensive, easy to apply and are found at most garden centers.
Sharon St. John is a landscape designer with Petty’s Irrigation and Landscape Company in Tyler, Texas.