For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Saturday, June 21, 2008
“Plants – High Impact for the Summer”
When temperatures are above 95° F every day and we are in the middle of a drought, it is not the best time for large scale planting. Wait until this autumn and when the rains begin. It may seem like it will never rain again, but I am relatively sure it will.
In the meantime, you do not have to completely quit gardening, consider planting some high impact container plants. They will provide colorful blooms to make your yard interesting and attractive with minimal water need. Move the containers around and your landscape can have a different look every few weeks. My favorite container plants are pentas, zinnias, vincas, and bougainvilleas.
Pentas are available at area nurseries in red, pink, lavender, and white. They lead off the list of high impact blooming plants because they provide summer long blooms in the sun or shade. There is no cycle of bloom and rest with pentas; they are in full bloom every day.
Each penta requires a two or three gallon container for full development. They perform well in the hot weather, but are not xeriscape plants. They will need to be watered every two or three days. Watch for hornworms on pentas, they are just as fond of pentas as they are tomatoes. Spinosad or a Bt product will control the hornworms.
In addition to the constant colorful bloom, pentas are among the favorite butterfly and hummingbird plants.
Vincas are doing particularly well in this dry hot weather. A single plant will survive in a one quart container, but do better in a two or three gallon container. With the extra soil the vincas can take advantage of their drought-tolerance. They may only have to be watered every four or five days.
If you can find the Cora selection give it a try. It is marketed as an aerial phytophera resistant selection and I think the blooms are superior. They are large and have pure white, pink, violet, and a near red. Vincas require full sun. They are a good butterfly nectar source. Deer do not seem to eat vincas, even in a drought.
Bougainvillea is a very showy container plant. Use at least a ten inch container and allow the top to grow to about 30 inches around. There are many colors of bougainvillea including white, salmon, pink, red, and violet.