FROM THESE RECOMMENDED PLANTS FOR SPECTACULAR BLOOM
There are many varieties of flowers from which to select
at the nurseries right now. Some of those that look best will
provide a short, spectacular season of blooms but will decline
as soon as hot weather arrives.
Snapdragons, pansies, cyclamen, primrose, and geraniums
are in this category. Expect them to bloom well until early
May and then decline quickly as the heat arrives. Dianthus may
last a month beyond the other cool weather plants, especially
if you deadhead about one-inch off of the plant with your string
mower about May 1.
The geraniums will survive the summer to bloom some next
fall and then again in the spring if you move their containers
into more and more shade this summer as the temperatures heat
up. They will also have to be protected from the cold in the
Cyclamens can also be summered over; at least thats
what I have been told. So far, I have not been successful. The
idea is to place their container on its side in a shady corner
of the yard from May through September. The cyclamen are susceptible
to rotting in the summer. By laying the container on its side
no rain will enter the soil to encourage rotting. I am going
to try it again this summer because the cyclamen are so ideal
for color in winter shade and so expensive to purchase each
Semperfloren begonias are available now. They are one
of the best bedding plants for shade but also perform well in
the sun if they are planted early, mulched and watered with
drip irrigation. Once hot weather begins there is little growth
until autumn; that is why early planting is required. The plants
must form a sturdy plant and far ranging root system to remain
attractive all summer.
Petunias are normally thought of as a spring and fall
plant in San Antonio. All selections bloom well until June and
then, if planted in September, bloom well through December.
The new old fashioned petunias, however, will bloom
through a mild summer and again in the fall. Some Kahunas
that my wife has in containers bloomed all spring, summer, fall
and winter last year, and seem determined to keep blooming this
year as well. Other selections that are tough are Laura
Bush and VIP. The Laura Bush are
reseeders. Some San Antonio Rodeo attendees were lucky enough
to purchase the pink version of Laura Bush, the
rest of us will have to make due with the violet color that
is the normal color of the new old-fashioned petunias.
Lantanas are perennials. They come in many colors and
sizes. All do best in full sun where they are generally deer
proof, drought tolerant and pest resistant. The exception to
the pest-free claim has been damage by lace bugs the last few
years on many plantings. The lace bugs suck the juices from
the leaves to reduce blooming for awhile and leave the foliage
looking faded and dusty. A little shot of orthene at first sign
of damage will control the pests or you can just wait for them
to recover with time.
The lavender lantana is a spreading plant that seems
to be an exception to the light requirement and hot-blooded
nature of lantanas. They can bloom in morning or dappled sun
and bloomed all winter in San Antonio in sheltered locations
in 2000 and 2001. A white version is also available.
New Gold lantana is much more aggressive
than lavender lantana. It will reach two feet tall on a good
site and spread four to six feet from one plant. A shallow whisk
with the string mower every four to six weeks will keep it blooming
all season, except in the hottest temperatures.
The New Gold color is striking, but it is
a little hard to find other colors that compliment it. Samantha
has a lemon colored flower and a variegated leaf that makes
it a great part of the perennial border. It is not a true spreader
like lavender or New Gold; instead, it mounds about
one foot tall and two feet around. Popcorn has a
similar growth pattern without the variegated leaf and with
an off-white flower.
Radiance and Irene produce larger
plants. They may reach four feet tall and as wide with bicolor
blooms of red and orange, and magenta and yellow, respectively.
The lantanas freeze down most winters but are root hardy.
Prune out the dead tops this time of the year for a long season