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!

Living on the “Hedge”

I remember the summer of 1988. Built an above ground pool that summer. A very hot and dry summer just like this year. I remember coming home from work one afternoon and there were so many people in the pool I wouldn’t have been able to fit a leg in the water if I tried. The summer of 2012 feels like 1988 to me.

A little water will provide “Lawn”-gevity

The lawns are just like they were then, a toasty golden brown with shrubs and trees living on the “hedge” looking stressed.


Trees and shrubs need your attention right now with some trickle or deep watering. This is especially true for spring plantings this year without well established root systems. Be watching for wilting or curling leaves. Some older established trees are showing leaf scorch just like they did in the summer of 1988. It’s not just the heat and drought, but wind adds to the problems increasing the rate of transpiration in foliage.

Trees showing leaf scorch

Remember the ability of your trees and shrubs to endure the stress of this season’s weather hinges in part on how healthy they were going into the season and your willingness to deep water them at the base now.

Looks like it may be too late for these Arborvitae

An impulse sprinkler or the hose nozzle you use to water your car isn’t going to work. You need to lay the hose at the base of the landscape plant and soak the soil for any beneficial effect.

Ironic that this appropriately named “Burning Bush” is showing the strain of weeks without water








I’ve had a lot of people lately ask me if their lawn is going to survive the heat and drought. Turfgrass dormancy is a survival mechanism allowing survival up to 4-8 weeks without irrigation or precipitation without significant thinning upon recovery from dormancy. This would be under ideal conditions of no traffic, good sub or parent soil, moderate temperatures, minimal root competition from trees, etc. Survival can be affected by species, age, shade, maintenance, the quality of feeding you have done in the past, the deck height on the mower, traffic, heatand other factors. Raise the deck on your mower and if you can, park the mower until the drought is over.



A shaggy lawn is better than a scalped stressed turf. Remember that dormancy is reversible but death is not. If the lawn goes too long without any water or if it was unhealthy and stressed going into the drought the roots my die causing thinning of the turf. Cool season turf can survive summer dormancy but cannot survive root death.

Cool season lawn dormancy. Remember dormancy is reversible, death is not.

Turfgrasses that are trafficked during drought conditions must be irrigated regularly to maintain performance and prevent widespread turf damage. Lawn areas established in spring or previous fall should be irrigated because they have not yet developed extensive root systems.

Check irrigation systems for improperly aimed sprinklers, defective heads and evenness of distribution, etc. Water in the early morning hours to improve efficiency because of less evaporation from sun and wind. Watering at sunset encourages disease issues.

Limit traffic on your lawn (including mowing) to minimize crushing of the turfgrass leaves and crowns. Avoid the temptation to apply herbicides even though weeds become more obvious in a dormant lawn because they may be the only thing left that is green! Wait until fall to control lawn weeds, a perfect time for weed control.
Remember the fall season is a perfect time for overseeding and feeding thinned lawns. Turf establishment in Michigan is best done between August 15 and October 15 so don’t lose your “composture” if things are looking bleak right now. Your window of opportunity to improve the green green grass of home is coming soon!


Summer Rocks

I think “summer rocks” as evidenced by these pictures. Years ago people would invite friends to their house and set up a Kodak slide projector to show them endless pictures from their summer vacation. You would have to be creative to come up with some lame excuse to get up and leave (I’m not feeling well…. cough cough) or not go at all.

For those of us who were in high school in the 70’s we remember Cheech and Chong and Sister Rosetta’s assignment What I did on my summer vacation.

“The first day on my vacation, I woke up. Then, I went downtown to look for job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The second day on my summer vacation, I woke up, then I went downtown to look for a job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The third day on my summer vacation, I woke up…… Now that`s fine, young man! ………Then I went downtown to look for a job……..
Now that`s fine, young man! ………..Then I got a job, keeping people from hanging out in front of the drugstore. The fourth day on my”…

Today you can just take a couple pictures and post them on your blog or Facebook and everybody is happy….no excuses needed.

Stacey, Rick, Angie......2 photogenic girls can make anyone look good!

Here are a couple of my “Summer Rocks” pictures and if you find yourself yawning feel free to Google something else. In the meantime I’m going to go hang out at the drugstore and get a Big Gulp or Slurpee or something like that……….

Angie and me.......Summer Rocks!
I can be a little over the top sometimes
Summer Rocks!
I "pine" for a little relaxation
A kick in the plants!
Have a great summer everyone!


The record breaking heat and humidity this summer has had an effect on “Lawn-Gevity” …….physiologically cool season grasses do well when air temperatures are in the 60 to 75 degree range…….a couple months of 80’s and 90’s can create real difficulties for grass. When soil temperatures heat up the grass starts to stress, yellow and wither. Grass has an ability to cool itself through something we call evapotranspiration…….it’s something like people perspiring. The roots draw up water from the soil and it evaporates through the leaves dissipating heat. The problem is roots aren’t as active in summer as they are in spring and fall…..they even shrink reducing their water absorbing ability. Contingent on how healthy your lawn was heading into summer the stress can exacerbate other issues like grub damage or diseases. Raise the deck on your mower to shade the roots and crown of the grass plants. You may want to “syringe” the lawn during the days of greatest heat stress. Syringing is a very light application of water to wet the leaves of the grass but not necessarily to get water down into the soil. Water in the morning hours to get sufficient supplemental water to the roots, mow less frequently raising the deck on the mower and consider syringing during the hot part of the day to cool the turf and reduce heat stress. Don’t syringe in the evening hours because wet foliage at night can encourage disease issues.                                                                                                  We see problems like rust

Rust on grass blades

or red thread when the lawn is under stress and growing slowly due to the season and environmental factors.

Fortunately in my opinion the period of August 15 through October 15 is the perfect time of the year to repair, re-seed, over-seed, take out weeds, core aerate and feed lawns to reverse the damage done by stressful summer weather.