Finding summer container plants
By By AMELIA O'BRIAN / horticulture columnist
July 28, 2002
Dear Gardener: I love the look of the summer blooming lilies. I have looked at the garden centers, but I can't seem to find any container plants. When might I be able to obtain these beauties?
Dear Reader: Lilies are not usually available as container plants. The bulbs are typically offered for sale in the spring and fall, since these are the preferred planting seasons. The planting information available with each variety will tell you the best planting times and conditions. Plant the bulbs as soon as possible after purchase.
Dear Gardener: I have seen some chaste trees around town. I would love to have one in may garden. Is there anything I should know about them before purchasing one?
Dear Reader: Lilac Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) is a wonderful small tree, large shrub. It can reach up to 25 feet in height, but in our area it will probably not grow that large. It loses its leaves during the winter and produces large spikes of fragrant, purple flowers throughout the summer. The berries that follow have medicinal uses.
Pick a sunny spot to plant your chaste tree. They do not require much in the way of maintenance. Deadheading during summer will prolong the blooming season. Pruning should take place in early spring. Trimming branches back to live wood will encourage lots of new growth and plenty of blossoms, since the flowers are borne on new wood.
Dear Gardener: All the poppies I plant tend to die out. I would love to have them as regular staples in my garden. Any suggestions on types to purchase and plant?
Dear Reader: Many of the poppies available are of the annual type. these should be allowed to set seed in the late summer or be reseeded by hand each fall. Of the perennial ones on the market, Oriental poppies and Iceland poppies are the most common two.
Oriental poppies bloom in spring and grow quite large, usually 2 to 4 feet high. The large flowers range from white to pink to red. Iceland Poppies are smaller, only reaching about 12 inches in height. If deadheaded, their white, yellow or orange flowers will continue throughout the summer. They are available in single or double varieties.
Be sure to plant your poppies in a very sunny location. Water oriental poppies occasionally throughout the summer months. Stop watering once the leaves begin to die down. Mulch them for winter protection. Iceland poppies are a bit easier to cultivate. Simply let them reseed at the end of the summer and you will be ensured a good planting next spring.