Hot Gardens Newsletter: February
Signs of Spring. Ornamental pears (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford‘) and Lilac vine (Hardenbergia violacea) are coming into bloom signaling that winter’s end is near. The Australian-native, winter-flowering acacias, which produce dazzling yellow blossoms, should be flowering soon in Southwest desert gardens.
The wisteria-like Lilac vine (Hardenbergia), left, is a very tough vine and easy to keep under control. It grows at a moderate rate, is easy to trim back and, because it is evergreen, is a great disguise for a chain link fence — or a lovely adornment for a trellis. It is just one of many beautiful vines we recommend.
Non-toxic weed control
Corny weed control. To stop weeds from popping up in your flower borders apply biodegradable corn gluten on the beds. This natural product, which you should be able to find in your local nursery or on the internet, prevents weed seeds from sprouting without harming your existing plants. You can also apply corn gluten to lawn grasses such as Bermuda and St. Augustine to prevent crabgrass growth. Corn gluten is a pre-emergent weed killer and only for areas where weeds have not yet begun to grow. It does not work if the weed seeds have already sprouted.
Hot Weed Killer. If you have isolated weeds now sprouting in sidewalks, patios or rocky paths, you can pour hot boiling water on the individual weeds and within a day or so they will be dead. Do not use this on your flower beds or close to other plants. Hot water does not discriminate — it will damage or kill any plants or insects it touches.
Healthy Beginning. We are big believers in avoiding chemicals as much as possible in gardening. Yes, we know you have heard this from us before, but the basis for all beautiful, healthy gardens is preparation of the soil. Good, rich soil full of organic materials will produce hardy plants and hardy plants can fight off a lot of pests and diseases on their own. So be sure you start Spring gardening by amending your soil with organic materials.
Bunny Banishers. Last month we mentioned that gophers avoid gardens that are planted with Pelargoniums, or as they are more commonly known, Geraniums. Rabbits are another garden nuisance in some areas. So here are some plants that do well in hot climates which rabbits do not like: Lantana, salvias, society garlic, daylilies, agapanthus, gazinias, penstemons, and pelargoniums. Better yet, these all look great in a garden border.
Trim Time. If you have not already done it, trim back your Lantana camara and Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) to about 8 to 10 inches. They will grow back rapidly as the weather warms up and produce flowers more abundantly.
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