TODAY IT REALLY FELT like spring has sprung. I’m writing this article the day after the 40 degree night on the 23rd of April. That is awfully late for a 40 degree night. There are a lot of people who have found the cascading vincas by now. We have people on wait lists for their flats of cascading vinca for a good reason. They are wonderful bedding plants for big color all summer and fall. The only things they don’t like is wet feet and chilly nights.
Chilly nights and frequent rains are exactly what we’ve been dished this spring. I hate to tell people that it’s too early to plant them when they come in so eager to get started. I had the feeling today that our cool nights are over for this spring and that its time to dig in. In fact, I went ahead and pulled up the gorgeous golden violas that have been serpentining down our front highway bed since last October. I left the snap dragons since they are exploding with their second flush of blooms. That’s what I love about snapdragons. They look great in the fall then they take a little breather only to really put on a great show right about now. For a cherry on top, deer don’t eat snapdragons. I probably shouldn’t have said that, now the deer will change their minds and decide they love snapdragons next winter.
Max helped me on the highway run by planting two of our favorites, Indian Summer Rudbekia and Cuban Gold Duranta. Max planted them way up on top of the hill while I planted the pink supertu- nias on the rest of the hill. I’m going to let the petunias do their accident causing thing until around mid-June when I will change the entire hillside with Indian Summer and Cuban Gold because they will, without fail, carry me through until fall planting time.
Indian Summer Rudbekia is the most striking Rudbekia (black eyed Suzy) that I know of. The bright yellow blooms with a dark brown center are about the size of a grapefruit, the plants get about two and a half feet tall and love full sun. Unlike the more reliable Rudbekia (goldstrum) Indian Summer don’t have the glossy foliage, they have pubescent foliage which apparently puts them in a category of Rudbekia that aren’t reliable about coming back every year. I’ve noticed the Rudbekia called Irish Eyes which has the same giant yellow bloom but with a green eye has the same foliage and doesn’t always come back. I don’t care. They are worth it. They will give me show stopping color all summer long.
Most people are familiar with Duranta, usually with gorgeous blue blooms then golden berries later, a tender perennial meaning we are a little far north for that one. Cuban Gold Duranta only get a foot tall and don’t bloom. The color is in the foliage, bright gold and tough as nails. They love our hot dry summers. Max picked Cuban Gold because he knows that color will set off all the other colors that will be happening up there. They will look great with the pink petunias early and later with the Indian Summer with the dark green background made up of dwarf pal- mettos that are eight feet tall and Vitex trees that will bloom a rich blue all summer long.
TO PREPARE FOR PLANTING after pulling the violas we tilled the bed after adding cotton seed meal and Espoma organic fertilizer. We added fox farm soil because of all the wonderful nutrients that soil offers, worm castings, bat guano, and all kinds of yummy things that make plants roots happy. We put down the pine bark mulch to help keep that moisture in and weeds out.
Once the petunias were planted, I watered it all in with a liquid fertilizer to give them a welcome home gift. That first watering after planting your bedding plants is by far the most important watering those plants will get. It helps the plants roots and soil to become one with the existing soil which will give them a much better chance to have strong roots. I will keep them moist for a few days then get into a regular pattern of watering as the temperatures fluctuate.
I believe it’s time to hunker down and plant those bedding plants that will keep you happy until it’s time for a do over in the fall. The nights in the 60 degree range is the mark we’ve all been waiting on are upon us. Go time!
I hope your garden plans pan out for you this year. Time for a sunburn, some ant bites, a little soreness and a whole lot of happy fun.