How Does Your Garden Grow?

Louise Grabell

Now that we are in monsoon season, I thought I might mention some drought tolerant plants. Even though we will be experiencing some heavy rainfall, for those who don’t like to be bothered with or worried about a garden, here are some suggestions for plants that will produce flowers with little attention. Even in a xeriscaped yard, it’s really a joy to be able to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. The following annuals are readily available in most garden centers and once they are established they will perform for you with much less water and irrigation than petunias, cosmos and the like.

The key phrase is “once they are established.” This means that even for drought tolerant flowering plants, they need time for their roots to grow before you can reduce the watering schedule. It may take two weeks or as long as a month for sufficient roots to grow so that the plant will survive hot summer days with intermittent irrigation. Plants in containers, however, need regular watering as they can dry out completely during one hot day. Even cacti in containers need water every so often. Mulching also helps water retention, so consider this for your gardens and containers. In most of our yards, rock mulch covers everything! While this type of mulch does help retain water, the rocks get very hot and reflect/radiate lots of heat upwards towards the plants during the day and early evening, requiring plants that are heat tolerant as well as drought tolerant.

OK—so here are my recommendations: portulaca, celosia, ageratum, globe amaranth, gazania, angelonia [summer snapdragon mentioned in an earlier article], vinca, profusion type zinnias and marigolds. Portulaca [moss rose] grows low to the ground and blooms in every color of the rainbow. Celosia are outstanding with their spiky red and gold feathery blooms and gorgeous reddish leaves. Ageratum comes with blue or white blossoms and I have not seen these in the nurseries I have visited, so mail order may be the way to obtain them. Globe amaranth reminds me of voluptuous clover blossoms in shades of pink to cerise and gazanias are awesome, low-growing fabulous large daisy-like flowers in an amazing array of color combinations. Vinca are reminiscent of New Guinea impatiens and produce a never ending array of colorful blossoms from white to deep purple. Profusion zinnias form large mounds of never ending blossoms that do quite well even without dead-heading. And last, but not least, marigolds will grow into large mounds of perpetual yellow to orange to mahogany blossoms.

I should also mention the gloriosa daisy [rudbeckia] and the perennial gaillardia as well for continuous summer blooms. With few exceptions, monthly fertilization and some attention to dead-heading the spent blossoms will insure a colorful garden and lots of butterflies for the entire blooming season.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.