A Master Gardener's guide
to gardening in a hot dry climate
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plants that bloom in scorching hot summer weather.
As summer heat builds, many desert garden
plants hunker down, shut off their flowers and most growth,
and just try to survive.
Your garden is probably looking a little dull at this time
of year. There are, however, 6 to plant in a
simple combination for prolonged blooming color in even
the hottest months.
Better yet, these plants can
look good together in a border and need virtually no
attention during the hot summer months. With one exception,
they need very little water, no pruning, no fertilizer.
first is Lantana (Lantana
montevidensis) planted at the front of a
bed as ground cover.
The gold-blossom lantana is truly an
industrial-strength plant which blooms brilliantly
for months on end. (Be sure you plant L.
montevidensis, not L.
camera which is
a tall shrub.)
You may also want
to mix it up by adding purple, lavender, yellow, orange and
red Lantana. And vigorous really describes Lantana
if it likes where it is planted.
You may have to cut it back drastically once a year
in mid-winter. Lantana is also an excellent plant for
Next, pink dwarf Nerium
Like all oleanders this hybrid will withstand tough
treatment--utter neglect, smog, dust storms, being run over
by trucks – you name it!
The dwarf pink Oleander grows to about three to four
feet tall and blooms in a lovely delicate pink.
There are also red and salmon color dwarf varieties
but their flowering season is shorter.
If you do not want the visual solidity of oleander,
consider planting rose bushes.
Roses give an open, airy feeling to a
white blooms provide a soothing visual accent to
this bright color border; yellow roses continue the
need a lot of water in summer, but we have a low
water-usage alternative below.
For another taller layer
near the back of your border plant the official
shrub of Texas, the
While you may think of it as a tree, it does not
grow very tall in desert areas. In fact, it
naturally grows as a multi-trunk shrub.
The hot pink Crape Myrtle shown here is a
"standard"--that is, it has been trained to grow
with a single trunk, like a tree.
addition: annual yellow
The sunflowers are an excellent color balance for the
Lantana -- but at a different height.
We prefer the smaller, multi-stem sunflowers to the
Wild birds, however, love them both for the seeds.
(Call this one 5 and a half. ) Another annual plant
that could fit into this color scheme:
yellow-petaled Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia).
It will grow anywhere even in the hottest weather.
||6. And to make it six: The
Mexican Bird of Paradise
Pulcherima) is a flowering shrub with an open
structure that could be a more drought-tolerant
substitute for the roses. There is also a
variety with all yellow flowers.
Keep in mind. All Oleander is poisonous
-- leaves, stems, flowers.
Lantana leaves have a mildly kerosene-y scent, but
that does not seem to bother the bees and butterflies. The roses, of
course, are the exception to low water usage. Crape Myrtles
really prefer acidic soil, so be sure to add a lot of
organic amendments and you will have glorious color all
If you want to add color right now instead of
planting a border for next year, consider placing several
large colorful pots in your garden.
You can see an excellent example of using large tall
pots and brightly colored furniture to add color to a
basically green garden on the
we know large glazed pots are expensive, but keep in mind
they are permanent color and you never have to water,
fertilize or trim them!
And you know exactly how large they are going to be this
year, next year and forever!
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