Category Archives: Summer

Hibiscus confusion?

Hibiscus confusion? Cue the music and let’s meet the contestants….

Our first featured Hibiscus is from and native to the Eastern US….one native tribe in the US used it to cure inflamed bladders and Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. A shrub like herbaceous perennial and vigorous grower, this Hibiscus is sure to please with dinner plate sized flowers July-September. A very colorful character say hello to Hibiscus Moscheutos.

Hibiscus moscheutos Perennial herbaceous hardy Hibiscus

Hibiscus moscheutos
Perennial herbaceous hardy Hibiscus

Our next featured Hibiscus hails from tropical Asia and China. Not hardy to Michigan winters this hibiscus loves to play in the sun and warm temperatures.

Rosa sinensis....non hardy tropical Hibiscus

Rosa sinensis….non hardy tropical Hibiscus

This plant makes a bold statement when entering a room with stunning flowers….that only last for a day or two. Say hello to Rosa Sinensis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final featured Hibiscus is ubiquitous and all around town. A slow starter once established blooms beautifully in July and August. Woody and requiring discipline, this Hibiscus goes by different names like Althea, Rose of Sharon or Hibiscus making it’s personality complex. Say hello to Hibiscus syriacus.

Hibiscus syriacus also known as Althea or Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus also known as Althea or Rose of Sharon

June Blooms

Rhododendrons love the Lake Michigan shoreline area....Well drained soil, slightly acidic and plenty of insulating snow in winter

Rhododendrons love the Lake Michigan shoreline area….Well drained soil, slightly acidic and plenty of insulating snow in winter

Alliums are now done blooming and can be dried for fall arrangements. If you like them plan to buy the bulbs in fall for planting

Alliums are now done blooming and can be dried for fall arrangements. If you like them plan to buy the bulbs in fall for planting

This is Elderflower....very large and generally grows in ditch areas. In bloom in June. Don't mistake it for Giant Hogweed the plant that has been in the news lately.

This is Elderflower….very large and generally grows in ditch areas. In bloom in June. Don’t mistake it for Giant Hogweed the plant that has been in the news lately.

Squash blooms are edible and delicious....might want to consider some Qtip pollination to help Mother Nature along

Squash blooms are edible and delicious….might want to consider some Qtip pollination to help Mother Nature along

Don't forget Crotons are not just a "houseplant"....great for containers on the deck or patio to combine with flowering annuals

Don’t forget Crotons are not just a “houseplant”….great for containers on the deck or patio to combine with flowering annuals

Zip up your Plants

Remember not all fertilizers are created the same. Take the primary nutrient nitrogen needed to green plants and provide growth. You can get nitrogen in less expensive urea forms that are very water soluble and here today gone tomorrow activated by water and temperature. Organic, natural or more expensive advanced synthetic forms of nitrogen are slower release water insoluble fertilizers needing soil bacteria and healthy microbes or biology to make the nutrients available to the plant. In an era of need for instant “grass”-ification, often some sulfur or iron is added to fertilizer mixes to give the quick deep green we desire. The least expensive and most dramatic nitrogen for our plants is atmospheric nitrogen….the kind of green up you see all around you the morning after a nighttime lightning storm. Regardless, nitrogen is just one of 19 elements considered essential for plant growth. Primary nutrients, secondary nutrients and trace nutrients are all needed for healthy plants. Now that June has arrived and plants are actively working, growing, feeding, fruiting and blooming you need to “zip up your plants!” In June don’t forget to feed your plants or as I call it “zip up your plants” as they are actively growing and blooming in one of the best gardening months of the year!
June is an incredible month in Michigan for annual, perennial, herb and landscape plants. With the threat of frost gone and long days the growth and performance of landscape plants in June is phenomenal….this is what we’ve been waiting for! Don’t forget about own-root landscape roses in June. Heavy feeders, with the long light days of June into July these landscape workhorses put on a show!

Vigorous shrub Own Root Roses

Vigorous shrub Own Root Roses

Perennials shine in the month of June and annuals planted back in May come into their own as they establish roots and benefit from the long day length.
Hanging baskets purchased back in May need to be watched in this month. A slow release fertilizer combined with a water soluble fertilizer keeps them fed. Learn to tell from the weight of the basket if they need water. Sunny and windy days can quickly dry out hanging baskets. Even the Boston Ferns hanging from the porch on the north side of the house can quickly dry out on a windy June day. Soil polymers can help with moisture retention.
June is a great month to analyze your landscape as well as other’s landscapes. Make note of what you like and want in your landscape. For example deer resistant and stunning Alliums are in bloom in June. These are hardy bulbs in the onion family that you plant in fall for show stopping interest in May and June.

Allium....plant them in fall for a show in June!

Allium….plant them in fall for a show in June!

Look at other homes in your walks through the neighborhood or visit professionally landscaped gardens to note the changes you want to make this coming fall. By doing this you get a “hedge”-ucation and can zip up your plants and landscape for the following season. Remember June is a kick in the “plants” for all us plant lovers!

Hot Plants never go out of style

Hot “Plants” Never Go Out Of Style.

Agastache in bloom....attracts Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees and Sphinx Moths in August

Agastache in bloom….attracts Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees and Sphinx Moths in August

Hot pants were all the rage just in time for my high school years in the 70’s. Daisy Dukes cut offs inspired by the Dukes of Hazard Catherine Bach or Wonder Woman in her hot pants outfit were looks we could never imagine ever going out of style. Some people consider the 70’s the decade that taste forgot, and looking back at some of my pictures I would have to agree. In my gym class in the 70’s the guys too and the basketball team wore very short shorts. They were so short that a revolt followed the 70’s and the pendulum swung the other way until people were wearing shorts so long you didn’t know if they were short longs or long shorts.
Short shorts may have gone out of style but hot “plants” never go out of style. Both Annuals and Perennials offer an opportunity to be colorful as things get steamy. August is a great time to rejuvenate our flowering landscape Annuals and zip up your plants! Pruning back stretched tired or leggy annuals and then feeding with a water soluble fertilizer will give them new life. Whether Petunias, Impatiens, Zinnias or the many other flowering annuals we planted back in May, they often need a pruning and a kick in the plants by August. They’ll kick back into gear and produce a new flush of growth and color well into October. Mums and Asters become available starting in August to supplement your rejuvenated annuals for continuous color.
It’s the hot weather favorite Perennials that get me excited in the heat of summer. On steamy days these hot plants put on a show as both tough and beautiful plants. Be a smarty “plants” and pick from my list because every diverse landscape should have a few of these in the sun. Check it out and plant one on me!
Hot Weather Favorites…Hot Plants that never go out of style
Achillea, Agastache (hyssop), Althea or Rose of Sharon, Baptisia, Buddleia, Carex, Chives, Coreopsis, Crocosmia, Echinacea, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Hemerocallis (Daylily), Hibiscus, Hydrangea (panicle), Lavender, Nepeta, Oregano, Ornamental Grasses, Perovskia, Roses (shrub landscape own-root roses), Succulents (Sedum, Sempervivum), Thyme.
If you have some “thyme” on your hands, get out there and put some hot “plants” on your landscape. You’ll be short on boredom and long on landscape color!

Some “Grow”-tivation

In July the summer heat can lower the “bloom” on some people’s enthusiasm for gardening. It’s at that point I need to give them some “grow”-tivation. We all need a little boost now and then. Besides, my Mom told me there would be “daisies” like this.

Mom told me there would be "Daisies" like this

Mom told me there would be “Daisies” like this!

Some would refer to it as the dog days of summer. I love July, love the heat, and only need to think back a few months to the long cold winter to appreciate what July has to offer. Fortunately there are a number of plants that are heat lovers and thrive in July.
Succulents have developed a new found popularity in the midst of water concerns in some areas across the U.S. Succulents come in many shapes and sizes and are easy to grow provided you don’t drown them with kindness. Herbs are a great choice too. Herbs are sun lovers and thrive in the heat. Basil, Lavender or Oregano are a few examples.

I think Basil planted near tomatoes makes them taste better but I can’t scientifically prove it!

There are many “own root” or shrub roses available to today’s homeowner from the “Drift” series of groundcover roses to “Easy Elegance” roses they are a workhorse in the landscape. I have some Proven Winners “Home Run” roses in my yard and they have continuous blooms and great disease resistance to both black spot and powdery mildew. They are heat tolerant, cold hardy with no winter covering and require no deadheading. I give them a general pruning back and feedings a couple times a year and that’s it!
Remember a light layer of mulch helps plants through the summer months cooling the roots and helping retain some soil moisture. When watering, try watering at the base of the plants as “mulch” as possible and morning is a great time to water.
Everywhere I go people tell me they enjoy my garden puns and sense of “humus” to which I say thank you very “mulch!” They then tell me in addition to the puns they like my lists. So here goes, my list of heat loving plants to try. Give a few a try….I knew you had it “zinnia!”
Annuals: Celosia, Cosmos, Cleome, Gazania, Scaevola, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Gomphrena, Zinnias.
Perennials: Agastache, Coreopsis, Crocosmia, Echinacea (coneflowers), Ornamental grasses, Gaura, Gaillardia, Sedum, Nepeta, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Yarrow.
Woody Flowering: Own-root Roses, Buddleia (check out new dwarf butterfly bushes like ‘Lo and Behold’), Panicle Hydrangeas.
Rick Vuyst