In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
This tropical display shows off a mix of colors, textures, and flower shapes.
Our Summer Paradise
While gardeners in other parts of the country are still hoping their tropical plants will bloom, we are, as usual, providing for their summer needs. In areas where rain has been more than plentiful, perennial and annual beds may need grooming more than usual. The task of removing ruined leaves and faded flowers goes on all summer, anyway, but very wet plants will especially benefit. Use your gloved hand to gently pull -- not rip -- floppy and yellowed leaves from daylily, amaryllis, and other plants with long, narrow leaves. If shrubs got flooded for more than a day, you might see browned leaves on the parts that stayed wet. Do a little clipping to remove anything unsightly, but resist the temptation to prune heavily unless you fear the plant will succumb shortly. Cleaning up the garden between the deluges also disturbs the pockets of mosquito eggs waiting to hatch and perhaps slows down their usual July population surge.
Get ready this month to plant seeds for setting out this fall. Save seed from gallardia and other popular plants like iris and daylilies if you like, but know that it will take time to grow them. Harvest the pods as they begin to split open, clean them off, and plant fresh seed or store dry seed in the refrigerator until fall. You can expect seedlings by the end of the year, and garden-sized plants in late 2008.
Shop now for seeds of lisianthus, calendula, candytuft, lavatera (annual mallow), digitalis, and forget-me-nots. Planted in small pots in July, they'll be ready to transplant to the garden in about six weeks. Keep the pots in very bright light, water from the bottom if possible, and thin if needed as soon as the plants are up.
Where the soil is not too wet to dig without sticking to your trowel, divide perennials that have finished their season now. Overgrown clumps will continue to thicken and may stifle next year's flowers. You can certainly pot up divisions or extras until fall if conditions are not favorable for transplanting right now. Plants that are ready for digging and dividing after flowering include Indian ginger, aloes, cottage pink, African iris, bird of paradise, ruellia, and New Zealand flax.
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