by Dr. Q, Star Nursery Staff Horticulturist
From seed or nursery transplants, in the yard, in containers, or hanging baskets, flowers brighten our property and add to pride of ownership. How do you plant warm-season flowers? Finding a spot with sunshine that you can also get a shovel into is a great start! Most colorful blooming flowers have much more tender roots than trees or shrubs, so it is important that you have rich garden soil.
Due to our poor native soil, it is best to add organic material like Paydirt™ Planting Mix or Humus Gro, with a liberal addition of Dr. Q’s® Gold Dust Starter Fertilizer. Install your flowers, water with a solution of Dr. Q’s Plant Tonic, fertilize monthly, and enjoy. Container gardens are super too.
FAVORITE SEASONAL “Annual” VARIETIES:
Alyssum is a low, bushy, spreading plant covered with small fragrant flowers in shades of white, pink, or purple. They self-sow readily and re-sprout in spring. Excellent in borders or mass plantings. Be sure you want them where you put them!
Begonia makes a colorful addition to any shady garden area. Bronze or shiny green, semi-succulent foliage is highlighted with delicate flowers in white, pink, or red. Good in containers. Variety New Guinea is taller and bushier with larger flowers. Be sure this one has excellent drainage.
Buddy Purple has papery purple flower heads atop compact bushy foliage. Good for edging, beds, or pots. Cut flowers are excellent in dried arrangements.
Celosia gives bright garden color in the hottest weather. New Look has purplish red foliage and feathery, deep red flower spikes. Plume Celosia has green foliage with feathery flower spikes in shades of yellow, pink, and red. Makes an excellent full sun accent, border, or background. Groom as needed to keep neat.
Cosmos is a delicate, fern-like plant with large, bright, daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, purple, white, or lavender. It frequently reaches three feet in height and makes a good background or accent. Plants self-sow freely.
Impatiens give delicate color to shady areas, patio containers, atriums, and entryways. Succulent stems bear flowers in a wide variety of colors. Needs good garden soil and excellent drainage.
Lobelia makes an excellent trailing plant for shady containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets. In shady gardens, it makes a nice, compact accent or border. In varieties like Cambridge Blue and Crystal Palace, rich blue flowers contrast with bright green or bronzy green leaves. Other varieties may be pure white, pink, or blue with a white eye.
Marigold comes in an endless variety of colors and sizes. From dwarf to giant, in colors of bright yellow, orange, and red, this plant has always been a favorite of gardeners in the desert Southwest. Equally at home in containers or gardens, it self-sows readily. It’s great in full sun and better without overhead water.
Petunias are marked by large, trumpet-shaped flowers on compact, bushy plants. Shades range from pure white through purple, pink, red, and bicolor. Some varieties are sweetly fragrant. Excellent in massed plantings, spring and fall; needs afternoon shade in summer to look good. May carry over in mild winters.
Vinca is a showy, glossy green, heat-loving plant with flowers in unusual shades of grape, raspberry, blue, red, rose, white, and bi-color. Excellent in masses, as borders, or spot accents. Avoid overhead sprinkling. It may return from seed next year.
Zinnia makes a spectacular addition to any summer garden. Ranging in size from dwarf to three feet or more, this heat lover produces flowers in nearly every shade imaginable. Good in pots – remove spent flowers to encourage repeat blooming. Avoid overhead sprinkling.
YEAR-ROUND “Perennial” FAVORITES:
Dianthus is a member of the carnation family that makes perfect mounds of color in spring and fall. Blooms off and on throughout the rest of the year. Shows nearly endless color varieties from deep red through pink, purple, white, and bicolor. Will also grow well in part shade. Plant anywhere in the garden.
Dusty Miller is highly favored for its soft, silvery-gray foliage. It’s excellent for formal borders and accents in traditional or desert gardens. Stalks of mustard-yellow flowers appear in summer. Remove them to keep the plant vigorous. This one is rabbit resistant!
Gazania is a bright, cheery, heat-loving plant available in trailing or clumping varieties. Trailing types make excellent ground covers while clumping plants are perfect for spot accents, masses or borders. Colors range from white to burgundy, yellow, orange, red, and bi-color. Don’t over water this one!
Lantana is one of the most versatile, colorful plants available for our climate. Varieties include trailing, mounding, and bush with shades of purple, orange, yellow, red, and multi-color. Use it as a ground cover, accent, border, or clipped, low hedge. Prune in spring when new growth appears.
Pentas are wonderful, spreading, multi-stemmed perennials grown as annuals in our climate. Compact plants are continually covered with clusters of white, pink, lilac, or red flowers. Superb as borders, masses, or accents. Takes overhead watering better than most bedding plants.
Snapdragon is available in many colors and sizes. Dwarf varieties are excellent for masses, foregrounds, and borders. Taller varieties work well as background and accent plantings. All do well in containers. Self-sows readily and produces endless color variations due to cross-pollination.
For more information on Warm Weather Flower Gardening, check out Star Note #310 at www.starnursery.com.