Plant of the Week
Dwarf Blue Plumbago Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
If you can't grow Blue Plumbago, it's time to move to the city! This perennial ground cover is quick to spread and puts up with a lot of abuse, from dry soil to neglect. The peacock blue flowers are held wide and very prominent against the small, bronzy green foliage.
Grows in any kind of garden.
The first week of June, with its taste of summer heat, ushers in a month of transition as our spring gardens are coming to a close. Just this week my pansies dried up, snapdragons are fading into their summer hiatus, and the dusty miller is bolting into summer seed. Spring bloomers that have been so spectacular will fade out of the spotlight, but summer gardens are moving onto center stage.
Summer perennials are the ‘cold-blooded reptiles’ of the plant world! It is warm enough now to bring these heat lovers back to life.
Of the heat-loving shrubs, Spanish broom is the first to erupt into fragrant bloom; butterfly bushes and yellow potentilla will follow shortly. This is the preferred season to plant these summer blooming shrubs.
Perennial, drought hardy, and flowering western natives also prefer to be planted in summer. Successful planting and years of blooms are certain with natives like manzanita, Apache plume, and the evergreen sugar bush. It’s common knowledge that it is easy to over-water these really low water users. However, summer heat quickly dries out these drought-hardy plants and gives them a chance to breathe between doses of irrigation. This week’s climbing temperatures sparked many of these plants at the garden center to set buds and/or go into color.
This long-winded introduction is in answer to Cindy's question from earlier this week: “Is it too late to plant in the garden?” Obviously, the answer is: “No!” This is the ideal time to plant summer heat lovers. Plant now and you will find that these new plants will catch up quickly and flower at the same time as your neighbors’ earlier plantings.
Also, flowers like zinnias, dahlias, vincas, and passion vines need the heat of summer to get off to a good start. Summer vegetables like squash, peppers, basil, and eggplants need to be warm in order to set fruit properly. Tomato plants dislike temperatures below 50 degrees.
June is recognized as perennial month. Perennials are those plants that come back bigger and stronger every year. Planted once, their periods of bloom return for years of enjoyment. During April and May there is a post-winter planting frenzy when gardeners are shopping for plants already in colorful bloom. This also is the time when most perennial varieties are just waking from their dormant states. Consequently, many gardeners miss the entire perennial experience because few of these garden anchors show color in early spring.
Reading a dirty plant tag on a perennial is difficult and the tiny picture hardly identifies how the plant will appear when in flower. It is far easier to decide which bloomers to plant when they are in full bloom and emitting their respective fragrances. As June is when most perennial bloomers pop their buds and begin flowering, this is the month to purchase and plant perennials.
Garden Alert! When we hosted graduation parties in our garden just a few days ago, my roses were stunning and fragrant. This week spider mites have sucked the life out of these same bloomers. These pests are making their appearance early this year, and the damage threatens to be far worse than in the past. You will never see an actual mite, but evidence of their presence are plants that look dusty with a copper overtone on the leaves. Also, very fine webbing can be seen, especially at the tips of the foliage and the under side of flower buds. Affected plants will stop blooming and start dropping leaves.
'Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew' is the solution. Spritz this liquid bug control over the entire plant. Most of the mites die on contact, and the few that do survive digest parts of the sprayed foliage and die later in the day. Respray at 10-day intervals until symptoms are alleviated and new growth appears.
You are well advised to walk the garden this week and check your roses, junipers, and Alberta spruce to look for symptoms of spider mite activity. Damage from these pests is serious; plants can and will die from a spider mite infestation. Catch the damage early and plants can recover quickly.
Design Wednesdays with Rich Olson. Local landscape designer Rich Olson will set up shop here at Watters Garden Center every Wednesday. From 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Rich will offer a free half hour of his professional advice. Bring a digital photo of your garden and he will enhance it with overlays of your ideas, be they plants, patios, waterfalls, or fountains. This is an exceptional opportunity to address those difficult-to-design spots in your landscape. Rich also can do full scale landscapes with overlapping irrigation and lighting plans.
Until next week, I'll see you at the garden center.