published Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Lea: Hope for an excellent fall season

By Pat Lea

Q. I am so disappointed, no impatiens this year and my substitute geraniums look miserable. How about some annual suggestions that will actually look good.

A. This is a year that has gardeners constantly fretting. We are having weather that is ideal for bugs, fungus and all kinds of garden miseries. The plants that enjoy full sun are suffering from too much rain and not enough sunshine, while the shade lovers are growing like mad but so are the bugs that will chew them up. Gardeners will have to take a break and notice what is doing well.

Most of our azaleas, rhododendrons and spring blooming shrubs are having a great summer and putting out new healthy foliage. Many plants have some fungus damage but they will recover as soon as it dries out a bit.

You are right that many usually dependable annuals have not been doing well. Until we get some consistent sunshine you can’t expect flowering annuals to produce lots of flowers. So trim the chewed on or moldy foliage back and be ready to fertilize your annuals with a flowering fertilizer as soon as the wet weather ends. Luckily, we have a very long warm summer growing season. If you clean up your existing plants now and then replace all the nutrients that the rains have washed away, they may respond with a great fall show.

Many of our traditional plants do not do well with temperatures in the 90s. As it cools, they may bloom again. In the meantime, try some Pentas or cannas or large begonias or even gladiolus, all of which are colorful and can tolerate this warmer, wetter summer. Buy baskets of good-looking annuals and use them to fill in among your not-very-happy plants.

This is a difficult season but be glad that the oaks, dogwoods and large shrubs are catching up on their water needs, and we can hope for an excellent fall season to compensate for our problems now.

Contact Pat Lea at lea.pat@gmail.com.

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