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May 1, 2017

QuestionAs a brand new homeowner, we are trying to plant some flowers in our new yard.  Since all I have ever grown are a few containers and hanging baskets, I am not sure what to plant.  I have an eastern exposure along the front of the house and the south side is open to the street.  These are the two areas I would like to add some color to.  There are a few small trees in the front, but that is all.  I would like both annuals and perennials.  Thanks for your help.


AnswerYou have a myriad of choices, for both annuals and perennials.  First decide on a color scheme–either warm colors or cool colors.  Then try to have something in bloom during all seasons.  Some heat lovers for the south side for annuals include: lantana, cuphea, penta, petunias, and zinnias.  For perennials, look at purple coneflower, butterfly weed, daylilies, salvias, hardy hibiscus, liatris, autumn joy sedum, and goldenrod.  This is just the tip of the iceberg for flowering plants.  Visit your local nursery or garden center and take a look at what is available.  All of these choices should work for the eastern exposure as well.  Make sure that you give them room to spread and grow to maturity and group plants together that need the same conditions as far as watering and fertility.  Have fun gardening!


July 2012

QuestionLike a lot of people, I'm losing some plants this summer. You may know that here in Maumelle, we're restricted to once-a-week watering. Even sneaking around my back yard with my hose isn't doing the job! You mentioned in your column today that hydrangeas are not drought-tolerant. I have one that's in a bad spot that I think I'll just take out after this year, so I know what you're talking about. My question is this: Would it be possible for you to print a list of plants that are drought-tolerant in an upcoming column? I've threatened to tear everything out and plant cacti next year or maybe just rosemary and Black-eyed Susans, since that's all that's doing well in my garden right now!


AnswerAs mentioned above with the crape myrtles, even they are struggling with the heat! Also, when planting even the most drought tolerant plants, the first growing season, they will need water. I can’t imagine what my landscape would look like with once a week watering—the soil is so incredibly rocky, and I am on a slope, so I feel for you with water restrictions. Deep, excellent soil encourages deep roots, which makes it easier to water less often. Some drought tolerant shrubs for sun include: abelia, althea (rose of Sharon), forsythia, spirea, buddleia (butterfly bush), barberry, junipers, beautyberry, nandina and ninebark. For shade, acuba, cleyera, and even camellias once they are well established. Perennials include rosemary, thyme, lamb’s ear, butterfly weed (milkweed), yarrow, gaura, rudbeckia (black eyed Susan), purple coneflower, liatris, sedum and penstemon. Annuals include lantana, periwinkle, cleome (spider flower), cockscomb, cosmos and portulaca. There are also a good number of succulents—plants with thick fleshy leaves that are available from nurseries.

August 2010

QuestionI have a large group of very tall plants that resemble marigolds, but are not. They have grown up to 4 feet tall and continue to bloom and the butterflies love them. This yard was planted by the previous owner and it continues to boggle my mind, something new every day. I just do not know what they are and where they came from. The bloom is similar to a marigold, but flatter and not as full.


AnswerAs to your tall yellow flowers, if you can send a picture I can identify for sure, but my guess is sawtooth sunflowers or one of the other helianthus. They can grow quite tall and bloom from late summer well into fall with clusters of yellow flowers. Butterflies love them, but they can be a bit overwhelming in the garden. They also freely reseed themselves. Another possibility with orange flowers is Tithonia or Mexican sunflower. It blooms all summer with lovely orange daisy like blossoms and again, attracts butterflies.

March 2010

QuestionI am new to the gardening scene and have recently relocated to Mountain View. My dad is encouraging me to plant several rows of flowers in one end of his vegetable garden. The soil is mostly sandy loam, and the garden gets full sun. I would like bright colored plants (reds, pink, and yellow) that are no more than 2 feet tall. Can you recommend varieties of flowers that should do well within these criteria? Also, what fertilizer should I use?


AnswerYou have many options. I assume you want annual flowers –which means you will replant every year, but that gives you new opportunities every season. For full sun you can plant lantana –comes in red, orange, yellow and multi-colored; penta – red, pink or white; zinnias –a huge color range; angelonia – pink, purple or white; petunias –look for the wave type or Bubblegum pink is a strong performer in pink—but they do come in red, purple and white colors too. Callibrachoa comes in pink, purple, orange or yellow and looks like a miniature petunia. These are all summer annuals and you need to hold off on planting until mid April—give the soil a chance to warm up. Incorporate a complete fertilizer—I like the slow release forms like osmocote, dynamite or similar product, at planting, then use a water soluble form like Miracle-Gro, Peter’s or similar every week to ten days if you really want to push them. I have good intentions to fertilize that often, but usually don’t do it more than once a month. Annual plants benefit from regular fertilizer but they will still bloom if you aren’t as diligent. Of course, keep up with watering and mulch the plants to discourage weeds.


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