May has arrived, and you may notice that your container plants aren’t looking to hot right now. Petunias, pansies and snapdragons usually start to dry out and droop as the weather approaches the century mark.
It is time to switch out your winter flowering annuals for those that can handle our summer sun and heat.
This is always somewhat bittersweet for me. I do not like tearing out beautiful flowers. They have performed so beautifully for me since last October.
But the truth is, is that if I don’t pull them out, the heat will finish them off sooner or later. Also, it is helpful to plant summer flowers before the heat arrives so that they can have time to establish before dealing with the stress of summer temperatures.
And so for those reasons, I gritted my teeth and began pulling.
Now, I am ready to start with a clean slate or should I say, clean soil.
Now, not all of the following photos are particularly beautiful, but are helpful in illustrating how I planted my new summer flowers, which will look great soon.
Now, I couldn’t find my small hand spade this morning, which is probably a result of having four children still living at home. I am sure one of them knows where it is, but they were at school and so I improvised.
Okay, I realize that those of you who have had the opportunity to come over and eat at my house may never do so again after seeing me use my large serving spoon. But, it really worked out ideally and I put it in the dishwasher afterwards 😉
First, I dug up the top 6 inches of soil, taking care to remove large clumps of roots.
**I warned you that some of the pictures were not going to be particularly pretty….
The next step was to add 6 inches of compost and mix it in with the existing soil. Unfortunately, I do not have my own compost pile, so I used bagged compost available at my local nursery. The brand is not important, just use what your nursery has in stock.
I made a single hole for my new plant, which is 1-gallon in size, instead of the smaller sizes – I’ll explain more about that later. I made sure that I did not add too much soil, because I do not want to deal with soil overflowing whenever I water.
The area my pots are located in faces west and receives afternoon sun in the afternoon. As a result, I need to use a plant that can withstand the intense sun and heat of summer. From my experience around golf courses and commercial landscapes, Lantana and Vinca do best.
Last year, I planted Vinca and so this year, I will use Lantana. Since it is not always easy to find Lantana in a small size, I just purchased a single 1-gallon Lantana for each container.
Now, I must admit that the picture on the plant tag, does not exactly match the flowers. But, they have not opened up completely, so we will see what they look like.
Okay, I admit that it does not look too impressive right now. You may be asking why I am not adding any more to the pot? Well, first of all, my tastes are somewhat simple. But, the major reason is that the Lantana will grow rapidly and cover the bare areas very quickly.
Soon, it will hopefully look like this one….
The last and maybe best reason that I love to use Lantana in containers is that when I dig them up in the fall, (in order to plant winter/spring flowers), is that I can plant the Lantana in my garden and enjoy them year-round.
What summer flowers are you planting in your containers?consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."