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Hot Gardens Newsletter:  August 2003

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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. 

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 lawns!

We now have several pages of suggestions for lawn replacement.

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chinese elm

Fast 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 its branches arch into a weeping shape.   


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More gardening news for you
fan tex ash rio grande clematis in bloom santa barbara mission rose garden
For a burst of Fall color
plant a Fan Tex ash 'Rio Grande'. 
Other leafy trees are here.
Clematis is one of
many beautiful vines that
can grow in hot, dry climates.
Preview the many gardens
of Santa Barbara including
the Mission Rose Garden.

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Our 8 Most Popular Hot Gardens Newsletters: 

Mixed lantana Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat. Australian acacia shrub. Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates
Mediterranean fan palm Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees. White roses for night garden A white garden for night time viewing.
Trimmed myrtle and boxwood Topiary can be easy to create and add charm to your garden. Geranium in pot on patio Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.
Octopus cactus Cactus as security barriers for your property. Aloe in bloom South African aloes for brilliant late winter color in your garden.


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