By Brent Gray
Hollyhocks are in full bloom now. The old-timey single bloom varieties are still available and can add that look of country charm to any garden. These plants, although listed in most texts as biennial, behave as perennials coming back year after year from the same rootstock. Blooms open from the bottom to the top of the bloom stalk ensuring a continuous succession of bloom for weeks. Some gardeners stake these tall bloom stalks to keep them upright during windy, rainy weather. I just let mine flop where they want. If you don’t want volunteer seedlings or you don’t save seed you may cut the bloom stalk down after flowering is complete.
You still have time to set out summer bedding plants. Keep them watered until the roots grow into the surrounding soil. Plants in full sun will benefit from the temporary shade of pine needles sprinkled lightly over the transplants.
Containerized evergreen and deciduous shrubs for accents or foundation plantings can be planted all summer; just keep them watered, and mulch after planting. Be sure to ask about suggested spacing requirements when planting masses of the same plant.
An unfamiliar flower on grafted roses means that the rootstock is blooming instead of the grafted portion. Cut the rootstock branch back to the ground to prevent it from becoming dominant.
The heat is on and many warm season vegetables are in a rapid growth phase. Remember to watch for wilting from lack of water and loss of green color due to lack of nutrients. A rain gauge near or in the garden can help monitor rainfall and let you know when there wasn’t the inch of water everything needs.
Adventurous gardeners may want to try Probos-cidea louisianica, formerly Martynia annua, in their hot weather garden. We normally grow okra as a hot weather pod crop, but this vine native to the Gulf coast fulfills the same role by producing tender seed pods that can be steamed, boiled, or pickled. Devil’s Claw, Tiger Claw, and Unicorn plant are a few of the common names that refer to the hooks at the blossom end of the pod. The claws of mature pods can latch to clothing and pet hair. Seed will not be found at the garden center, but can be found online and in publications like the Market Bulletin from many individuals.
Seeds you should be looking for, found at garden centers now, are pumpkins. Halloween is still more than 140 days away but some varieties take more than 100 days to produce fruit and many of us start fall decorations in September. Choose your variety to fit both your decorating needs and your garden space. Many of the large fruited varieties require fifty or more square feet per vine. Read the seed packet for days to harvest and space requirements and remember that pumpkins will store for a month, but they may not turn orange in time if you plant after the first week in July.
Lelia Kelly, David Nagel