Newsletter August

Hot Gardens Newsletter:  August

List of previous newsletters by month and topic.

Summer Break.  July rains have given our Southwest desert gardens a break from the heat, but it is still far too soon to begin Fall planting.  You should wait until the daytime temperature is consistently below 95 degrees F.  which will probably be in mid-September.

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Anorexic Plants.  A little fertilizer will give your potted plants a needed boost right now.  All the water they have received in the last couple of months has washed away nutrients in the potting mix.  The poor little plants are half-starved.  Just make sure the fertilizer is diluted or use slow-release fertilizer sticks.  And if the leaves are turning yellow with green veins, you may need to add a chelated sulfur fertilizer, such as Kerex.

Double Your Iris. If you have large clumps of iris that should be divided, dig them up and divide the rhizomes now. But wait until September to replant them. Keep them in brown paper bags in a dry place until replanting. Other perennials should be divided when cooler weather comes.

gold lantana Who Needs Grass?  Water restrictions giving you second thoughts about a green grassy lawn? We recently saw a small front yard that had been entirely planted with gold Lantana. It was brilliant!

Another idea for lawn replacement is ornamental grass, such as Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) or clumping Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina glauca). Both need very little water and neither need to be mowed. The Deer grass should be trimmed back in January. One variety of Deer grass is called ‘Regal Mist’ and it has lovely, airy purple blooms in the Fall. Combine “Regal Mist’ with Lantana for a spectacular, water-wise front yard. It will make you forget you ever loved green grass lawns!

See many other suggestions for lawn replacement here.

Chinese elm Ulmus parvifoliaFast and Beautiful. Consider planting the Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) this Fall, the best time of year to plant all trees and shrubs, except for palms.  Under the right conditions the Chinese elm can reach 30 feet in 3 years and once established it needs infrequent, deep watering.   If you plant it in a lawn where it will receive water regularly, it will eventually reach a height of 50 to 60 feet. As the Chinese elm grows taller its branches arch into a weeping shape.

More gardening news for you
fan tex ash rio grande
For color in fall plant a Rio Grande ash.  Other trees are here.
Clematis in bloom
Clematis is one of many vines for hot, dry climates.
Santa Barbara mission church yellow roses
The Santa Barbara Mission has large, beautiful rose gardens. No entry fee.

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