10 Shrubs for Full Sun and Reflected Heat

One of the most difficult places in the landscape to grow plants is in areas that receive full sun as well as reflected heat.

Reflected heat occurs when sidewalks, walls, and patio decks absorb the heat during the day only to  re-radiate that heat back out.

As you can imagine, when you couple the intensity of areas that get full sun AND reflected heat, it can be hard to find plants that can not only survive, but add beauty to these spaces.

Thankfully, there are a number of attractive plants that will thrive in these hot spots.

I recently shared 10 shrubs, in my latest article for Houzz, that can handle full sun as well as reflected heat.


Do you have a plant that you like that does well in full, reflected sun?

How to Help Your Plants Survive a Heatwave in the Desert

Forecasts of a heatwave in the desert may seem a rather foreign concept when temperatures in summer are routinely over 100 degrees.  However,  when temps are predicted to be 115 degrees and over, plants in landscapes that normally handle hot weather without complaint, can suffer. 



The best preparation for heat-proofing your landscape begins before summer.  However, with the imminent arrival of a heatwave, here are two tips that will help your plants survive.


1. Provide extra water by irrigating shrubs and groundcovers in the early morning hours for an extra 1/2 hour when temperatures are forecast over 115 degrees.
Plants can uptake water more easily in the early morning as opposed to being watered during the day.  During the heat of the day, plants have to devote much of their resources to handling the stress of the heat and cannot uptake water efficiently.  Therefore, it's best to water early in the morning so that they are replenished with water and ready to face the excessive evaporation that will occur with temperatures over 115 degrees.  
*It's important not to overwater plants, so if the heatwave lasts more than three days, skip a day between providing extra water.



2. Provide temporary shade for heat susceptible plants such as hibiscus or roses.
The sun's intense rays are even more focused during a heatwave and can cause stress to the plant itself, including sunburn damage.  This is especially true for plants that receive hot, western sun or in areas that receive reflected heat.

For shrubs and groundcovers, leaves may wilt and turn brown in response to a heatwave.  Even cactus and other succulents can suffer sunburn or other heat stress, which often reveals itself as yellowing.

Temporary shade can be provided using sections of shade cloth.


In a pinch, a lawn chair can work to add a welcome spot of shade for a plant.

Old sheets tied to posts, chairs or trees can also provide temporary shading until the heatwave subsides.


As I mentioned earlier, the best way to handle a desert heatwave is wise planning including using native plants, mulch and the use of trees to provide shade.  

In the meantime, escape the heat by hibernating indoors as much as possible :-)

**You can read more about how to create a heat-proof garden in an earlier blog post.  

Gardening With Kids: Painting and Planting a Flower Pot

Did you ever garden when you were a child?

I did.  My dad gave my siblings and me, each a small raised bed in the backyard.  We would spend hours leafing through the latest Burpee catalog, deciding what seeds we would buy to plant in our little gardens.

I never forgot my introduction to gardening under my father's guidance, and I enjoy doing the same thing with my granddaughter, Lily.  


Lily, and her mom and dad, just moved into their first house, and she was very excited to be able to garden.

So, I took her to the local nursery in their town of Petoskey, Michigan and told her that she could pick two types of flowers.

After some deliberation, Lily decided on cosmos and marigolds.


We brought them home and got ready to create a pot filled with flowers.  

The pot was purchased from the local big box store and painted a bright shade of blue using spray paint.  

The first step was filling the pot with planting mix, which is specially formulated for container gardening as it holds onto just the right amount of soil as opposed to potting soil, which can become soggy.


As we planted the flowers, I took the time to explain to 4-year-old Lily how the roots help the top part of the plant grow and flower.


I dug the holes, and she would put each plant inside.


Then we patted down the soil and watered them well.


When we were finished, we had a colorful pot filled with cosmos and marigolds ready to sit by the front door.

As the flowers mature and eventually dry out, Lily will collect the seed and save it for next year's garden.

We had a lovely time and Lily would call me "Plant Lady" and herself the "Plant Girl".  I couldn't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

Have you ever spent time teaching kids to garden?  What did you plant?

A New Shrub Named After a School Mascot

One of my favorite things as a horticulturist and consultant is to help people discover the new plant introductions that they may have never heard of.

I like to tell them that they can be the first on their block with the latest plant that all their neighbors will want to add in their landscape.  

Tecoma x 'Orange Jubilee'

Many of you may be familiar with the large, orange-flowering shrub Tecoma x 'Orange Jubilee' with its clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers.  Its long bloom period and up to 12-foot height makes it a favorite for screening out a block wall or unfavorable view.

While the flowers and lush foliage are a plus, Orange Jubilee is too large for many smaller areas, which is why this new shrub is one of my new favorites. 


This Tecoma hybrid has bi-color flowers and is affectionately named 'Sparky' after Arizona State University's popular mascot.  This hybrid was created by a horticulturist and professor at ASU.


'Sparky' is about half the size of 'Orange Jubilee,' which makes it suitable smaller spaces.  It also has smaller leaves and a slightly more compact growth habit.

Both types of Tecoma have the same requirements - full sun and pruning away frost-damaged growth in March.  'Sparky' is slightly more cold tender than 'Orange Jubilee'.



While I have an 'Orange Jubilee' shrub screening the view of my A/C unit, I believe that I need to find a spot for a 'Sparky' shrub - especially since I'm an ASU alumni.  
For those of you U of A alumni, there isn't any word of a red, white and blue hybrid yet - but, I'll be sure to let you know if they create one ;-)

**Would you consider adding a 'Sparky' Tecoma shrub to your garden?

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