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Hot Gardens Newsletter: Autumn 2008

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Frugal Gardening.  For over 10,000 years frugal gardening has been the way of the world.  Instead of buying half-grown plants at a garden center, people planted seeds or divided their existing plants to create more.  No instant gratification, of course, but it is a great way to double or triple the number of plants you have in a flower border without spending a dime.

Multiply by Division.
   Among the easiest perennials to multiple by dividing is the Bearded Iris (Iridaceae).  You should, in fact, do this every 3 or 4 years to assure healthy, big blooms.  Simply dig the rhizomes up, trim the leaves back to about 5 or 6 inches, then cut the rhizomes apart with a sharp knife.  Allow the rhizomes to dry for a couple of weeks, then replant in late September or October.  

Daylilies (Homercallis) and Agapanthus also lend themselves to being divided.  Again, dig them up, divide the clumps and replant.  No drying out time is required for these.  You can also take cuttings from your favorite geranium (Pelargonium) and simply stick them into a pot of soil or potting mix.  Keep the soil damp and -- voila -- you will have vigorous new geraniums in bloom next summer.

Shows and Sales.  Specialty flower club shows or garden club events are great way to find real bargains.  Usually the plants have been grown in someone's back yard, then potted for the sale.  Better yet, you are likely to find unusual hybrids and colors to add variety to your flower borders.

santolina and petunias The short-lived Santolina (Santolina incana) with petunias in a flower border suitable for a hot, dry climate.  The annual petunia will not last long in hot summer weather.

Not So Perennial.   One of our favorite plants for a perennial flower border is the Santolina.   We love its brilliant yellow ball-like flowers.  We find, however, that it rarely lasts more than 2 or 3 years and then must be replaced.  It is a good example of "perennials" not really lasting forever.  Over a period of 5 to 10 years you may have to replace every perennial in your flower borders if you want them to remain beautiful.

Wake Up Call.  As the average daytime temperature cools to below 90F (32C)many plants in your garden will begin to wake up from summer dormancy.  And they are waking up hungry!  So be sure to feed them in the next few weeks.  Roses, in particular, will give you a gorgeous Fall blooms if they are well fed in September. 

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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 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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