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Hot Gardens Newsletter: Autumn 2009

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crape myrtle hot pink in bloom As summer cools down slowly and the Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) begin to fade we realize how much with love these brilliant long-blooming trees.  

When you begin to consider what to plant this Fall add a couple of Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) to the list of trees to make your late summer garden glorious.  

For at least one month--and often longer--in the peak heat of summer they give faded gardens a jolt of brilliant color.  The hot pink, shown above, is our favorite.  

We have however, seen a garden where a row of Crape myrtles lined a boring concrete block wall and bloomed in alternating colors of  hot pink and pale pink. 

They also come in white and lilac shades, but these always seem a bit washed out in blazing summer sunlight.

So pick the one that best complements your house color and plant them in your parking strip or along your front sidewalk.  

In the best of all gardening worlds, Crape myrtles love having lots of water, but they also thrive beautifully in low-water usage gardens.  With plenty of water the trees grow to 30 feet, with less water they remain shorter.  But at 30 feet or 15 feet they are among the best summer trees for color in the garden.

red lantana Garden fountain recycled. If you have a real fountain in your garden that you have drained for water conservation purposes, fill each level with good potting soil--making it as deep as you can--and plant lantana (Lantana montevidensis or L. sellowiana).  These low-growing varieties of lantana have trailing branches.  

As the lantana grows it will cascade over the edges and for at least six months of the year will give you brilliant flowers.  And don't settle for just one color. Do not plant Lantana camera which grows upright to 6 feet tall.  It is not suitable for a fountain.

If you have a three level fountain, pick the hot pink hybrid, 'Christine', for the bottom level of your fountain.  On the next level up, plant a burnt orange, such as 'Tangerine'.  Then on the top level, consider 'New Gold', a warm golden yellow.

If you are really a fan of the color yellow, you can go a little bit wild by planting 'Lemon Swirl' which has variegated yellow and green leaves with yellow flowers.  One bonus of Lantana, bees love it! 

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Wait until the temperature drops.   Do not plant until the temperature drops to below 90 degrees. (37 degrees Celsius).  Yes, yes, we know that there are young garden designers who will tell you that it is okay to plant during hot summer months.  They say that so they can continue to have work during those months.  

Palms love having their roots in warm soil and should be planted in the summer.  Virtually all other plants will do much better if you wait and plant in the Fall, when Mother Nature does her planting.  You will lose far fewer transplants if the soil is cooler.   


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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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