{ GARDENING }

FLOWER POWER

Summer’s top 10 garden blooms

BY Armstrong Garden Centers
Coneflowers
Coneflowers
Daylilies
Daylilies

Summer’s hot days are now upon us. But it’s not too late to fill pots and borders with hot weather flowers that will pump out color all season long. The key to success will be to keep these plants well-watered while they root. Once they are established, they should never be allowed to completely dry out.

Remember to work in an organic planting mix and starter fertilizer at planting time. The mix will improve drainage and help to retain water and nutrients. If you are establishing in containers, use an organic potting soil straight from the bag along with starter food.

Colorful plants need plenty of nutrients to keep producing blooms. For non-stop color, feed monthly with an organic bloom food. The middle number of the NPK will be the highest of the three. It’s phosphorus that promotes flowering.

Although many of the flowers listed below will tolerate drought, regular water is needed for the best blooms. They also need well-draining soil—never allow these plants to be in soggy soil. Many stalwarts—including geranium, salvia, coneflower and zinnia—have exciting new cultivars. Don’t miss them.

First, Cora Vinca is an easy-care heat lover. It blooms profusely and needs no deadheading. Cheery flowers in a compact form make it a perfect border plant.

Daylilies are classic summer flowers and are virtually carefree. For season-long color, choose reblooming varieties. The latest hybrids have large, wide-petaled flowers in rich colors from sherbet-toned blends to rich purple, red, pumpkin, near-black and more.

Coneflowers have undergone a remarkable transformation. Just about every color is available now, with the exception of blue tones. But you’ll find pink, pristine white, bright yellow, orange, fire-engine red and, of course, purple. There are also doubles and pom-pom forms that don’t even look like coneflowers!

Another flower that’s undergone a major makeover is gaillardia. Choose from bright yellows, clear oranges, reds, rust tones, apricot and more. Gaillardia ‘Fanfare,’ with tiny trumpet flowers instead of petals in red, orange and yellow, is sensational.

Cosmos, with its country-simple flowers is a fool-proof summer bloomer. You get your choice of heights with different varieties. Cosmos can contribute charm to any garden style. Pure white cosmos are often used to fill boxwood parterres in Provence—a sophisticated, yet carefree choice.

Salvias (there seem to be zillions) are the quintessential Mediterranean-climate summer bloomer. If you haven’t already introduced yourself to the world of salvias, do it by growing a stunning new one: Amistad. It has sensational spikes of rich, royal purple flowers with black bracts on a well-behaved four-foot plant.

Pass on the large flowered zinnias and plant the super Profusion series. These award-winning, mounding plants will be covered with
1 1/2-inch flowers right through the dog days of summer. You won’t find the complete zinnia color range, but there are enough choices to give your garden pizazz.

With the exception of English types and a few others, lavenders will produce spikes of color summer into winter. Look for the new Spanish and French varieties with very prominent “ears” in contrasting colors. Don’t overwater them while they become established. If you’re not sure, it’s better not to water.

Geraniums will never go out of style because they’re simply fantastic in California gardens. There are terrific new kinds called interspecifics—hybrids of zonal and ivy geraniums. Two series are available: Calliope and Caliente. They have gorgeous foliage, large sturdy blooms and a pleasing, mounding habit.

Lastly, consider the lowly marigold. If you want a jolt of hot-toned color, marigolds can’t be beat. For a fresh look, don’t mass them and don’t line a flowerbed with them. Simply plant them in threes or fives in a mixed border. Marigolds make mixed flower borders zing.

There’s no better time than now to try out some new versions of traditional classics and old standbys. You’ll love seeing the bright blooms all summer long.

Go to armstronggarden.com/storelocator for the nearest center near you.

Cora Vinca
Cora Vinca
Zinnia
Zinnia
Geraniums
Geraniums
Marigolds
Marigolds