Heat + Humidity = Horticultural Happiness

Heat + Humidity = Horticultural Happiness

     As rainwater was dripping off my lilies one morning, I went out to investigate the many tropical plants on my deck.  I discovered that all that rain they had endured during the month of May hadn't fazed them a bit.  In fact, they looked amazing!  But you know, plants that are native to tropical regions of the world would naturally be adapted to lots of frequent showers.  Sunshine, well-drained soils, nice breezes, fresh rainwater, hmmm ... sounds like heaven. I think I'd like to be reincarnated as a tropical plant. 

    Of course, now that summer heat has arrived, the plants you choose for your garden or patio pots will have to live up to the task of blooming their butts off and looking their best all summer long.  With a little help from you, their caretaker, they will do their best to keep you happy.  I will introduce some plants, some you may be familiar with and some more unusual, that can take all the heat and humidity Oklahoma has to offer.

    A favorite tropical known for its big colorful flowers--hibiscus!  Most often sold as a bush form or as a tree-shape, they can be quite amazing.    These beauties will reward you with healthy leaves and flowers if you give them a good drink every day when it's hot, and feed them a water-soluble fertilizer made for blooming tropical plants about every other week.  Another good choice is the oleander, also available in a bush or tree-form. Most often the colors you will see are shades of red and pink. They are not quite as thirsty as hibiscus, their soil likes to dry out a bit more.  But they would also benefit from a regular feeding and at least 6 to 8 hours of sun a day. 

    If you need a plant that will drape over a container or spread along the ground with non-stop color, it's hard to beat the purslane or portulaca.  Commonly known as moss-rose or rose-moss,  it is the easiest and toughest of all. You can find it in lots of colors and bi-colors too. Another thing that's cool about it is it can be tucked into quirky little planters like the shell shape shown above.  A hanging basket might need to be watered every day, but planted in a pot it can usually go longer.  It's not a heavy feeder, I spray it occasionally during the summer with whatever fertilizer I have mixed in a Miracle gro-type sprayer.

     Another plant to consider for your summertime pleasure is the mandevilla/allamanda/dipladenia.  These have glossy green oval leaves and trumpet shaped flowers.  Sometimes they are lightly fragrant.  They can be used as short shrubby accents or left to spill over a container in a most graceful way. In the hottest part of the day they will need some shade, or they can be grown in filtered light, such as under a tree. 





          Summertime wouldn't be complete without me picking up two of my favorite hot performers. These are not your run of the mill garden center finds, but so worth it.  The first one is called russellia.  It looks best left to cascade over a container, wall, or anything that needs a showstopper. Holy cow! It will get as big as you let it, and the hummingbirds love it!  It needs water everyday, but the masses of red and sometimes yellow tubular flowers will keep on going till frost.  The second plant I can't live without is in the euphorbia family.  It is called geroldii, or "thornless crown of thorns".  Plant two or three 1gallon size plants together in a moderately sized pot, and they will grow to be a fat happy plant that blooms nonstop with flowers that are reddish-orange.  During the hot drought years I gave mine a deep soaking about once every 5 days.  It will delight you right up to the time of frost.

    But wait--there's still more choices for you to choose from if you have some patio pots in need of a lift.  Colorful foliage plants, succulents so easy to care for, even new versions of old favorites.  If you are in need of inspiration or education, we at Calverts can provide you with that.  We can help you reach horticultural nirvana despite the heat and humidity!

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Bob c wrote:
as usual, very well done.

Mon, June 22, 2015 @ 10:48 AM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.