Summer Flowers and Plants

Summer Flowers and Plants

Hydrangea Plant

Hydrangea Plant (Hydrangea sp.)

The Hydrangea Plant is a shrub that is known for it’s affinity for acidic soils, and it’s stunningly large flowerheads, the hydrangea plant is a popular perennial ornamental flower in many gardens.

They are easy to cultivate and grow in a range of conditions making them a great choice for landscapes. With blooms lasting into the fall it also means they add color to a landscape when most other plants have finished blooming for the season.

Hydrangea Colors

The Hydrangea plant comes in a variety of colors. Hydrangea colors include:

  • Blue Hydrangea
  • Green Hydrangea
  • Purple Hydrangea
  • White Hydrangea
  • Pink Hydrangea
  • Red Hydrangea

Hydrangea Plant Info

Closeup of Blue Hydrangea Plant

Closeup of Blue Hydrangea Plant

  • Scientific Name:  Hydrangea sp.
  • Life cycle:  Perennial
  • Soil pH:  Acidic to neutral
  • Plant hardiness:  USDA zones 3-9
  • Light requirements:  Full sun/part sun
  • Water requirements:  Moderate
  • Fertilizer demand:  Low to moderate
  • Planting date:  Spring or fall
  • Flowering season:  Early summer to fall
  • Height:  3-6’
  • Colors:  blue, green, purple, white, pink, red
  • Pests:  Aphids, Slugs, powdery mildew, rust
  • Propagation:  Cuttings, ground layering

Hydrangea Plant Care

The adaptability of hydrangea plants suits them for many hardiness zones. Plants overwinter well even in the colder climates though they will benefit from an 18” covering of mulch or straw to help protect them through the cold.

The hydrangea flower prefer spots that receive full sun earlier in the day and some mottled shade during the heat of the afternoon.  This helps to prevent the large flowerheads from losing too much water to evaporation in the hottest part of the day.

Hydrangeas are typically sold to homeowners as premium container plants. Bare root options can be found at times, but keep in mind the planting window for bare root plants is much narrower and can be easily missed.

Plant new hydrangea plant specimens in spring after the danger of frost has passed or in fall, about a month before the first hard frost. When preparing the planting site dig a hole 2-3 times the size of the root ball to give the plant ample space for roots to grow.

Also keep in mind the importance of proper plant when planting; make sure that full grown plants will not touch neighboring plants to allow for good air movement.

Purple Hydrangea Flower

Purple Hydrangea Flower

Hydrangea Plants will do well when fertilized in the spring, just as new growth begins, with a fertilizer higher in phosphorus and then again every 8 weeks during their active growing season. Phosphorus will help encourage beautiful blooms; avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen as they promote vegetative growth over flowering.

Water plants frequently after planting to help encourage establishment in their new location. As the temperatures begin to climb, make sure soil surrounding hydrangea plants is kept moist but not overwatered as this will hinder blooms.

One of the most unique characteristics of the hydrangea plant is the ability to change the flower color on a plant by adjusting the soil pH. This isn’t something that happens instantaneously but is a gradual process that can take weeks or months. The change in flower color is related to the amount of aluminum available for plant uptake, which is directly related to soil pH.

The soil needs to be lowered to a more acidic level to get blue hydrangea flowers. Adding sulfur or peat moss to the soil can help accomplish this. To get red hydrangea or pink hydrangea flowers, apply ground limestone to the soil around the plant raising the soil pH. It is easier to change flower color from blue hydrangea to pink hydrangea (changing the soil from acidic to more neutral or slightly alkaline) than vice versa, and the soil pH should be monitored closely with a home testing kit to ensure the change isn’t too drastic, too quickly.

Pink Hydrangea Flower

Pink Hydrangea Flower

To avoid harming the plant, make sure it is at least two years old before trying to change the flower color. This gives it time to completely recover from the initial shock of planting.

Hydrangea Plant Pests

Hydrangeas are typically pest and disease free, but like so many other plants, they can be susceptible if the conditions are right. Some common garden pests to infest hydrangeas are:

  • Aphids
    • Water plants with a heavy spray of water to rinse insects from the infected plants. Apply neem oil or other insecticide if absolutely necessary.
  • Slugs/Snails
    • The most productive method of control is hand picking slugs from the soil and plants about two hours after sunset. If the infestation is severe, trapping may be a more convenient solution; an easy trapping method is sinking shallow pans of stale beer into the ground – the yeast acts as an attractant, and the slugs fall into the liquid and drown.
  • Hydrangea scale
    • If possible, remove as much of the scale insects and their egg masses as possible by scraping them into a container. Then spray infected plants with a systemic insecticide.

Rusts and mildew are common to many garden plants, with hydrangeas being no exception. Cultural methods are the most effective methods of control/prevention of rusts and mildew: keeping garden bed weed free, allowing good air circulation around the base of plants, watering early in the morning, removing infected leaves when the disease is spotted.

An application of neem oil can kill rust spores on the plant and works well if the disease is caught quickly. Plants infected with mildew should be removed from the garden and destroyed to prevent spread.

With stunningly beautiful, showy flowerheads in blues and pinks, the hydrangea plant makes a gorgeous addition to gardenscapes. Their easy to care for nature makes them well loved by many gardeners.

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Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks (Alcea) are biennial plants that bloom in the summer months. They have a very short lifespan and you usually only see them bloom in mid to late summer.

Hollyhock

Hollyhock

Because hollyhocks flowers are very prone to disease, it will not last as long as other flowers. It will however reseed itself each year. So you don’t have to worry about replanting it yourself until you see it has stopped growing.

Alcea are one of summers more different looking plants. The flowers actually grow on long stems coming out of the ground. It will reach at least 5 or 6 feet tall once the plant is done growing.

The blossoms grow in many different colors. They come in varieties of pinks, purples, oranges, yellows, reds, and white. Along the thick stems, colorful flowers burst open. They are a very decent size of cup shaped petals. Along with the nice sized blossoms are large green leaves.

If you ever come across a plant that has a very tall stem, with bright green leaves, and several large colorful flowers, then you are most likely looking at Hollyhock.

Since they grow to be so tall and are a powerful looking plant, set them up in a flowerbed all of their own. Or perhaps use them to border a fence.

Hollyhocks When To Plant

So have you decided to plant them in your garden? For starters if you are growing alcea they need to be in the sun. Hollyhocks can be planted in almost any

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks

type of soil. Just be sure it will get the amount of moisture it needs.

When you are growing Alcea begin to sow your seeds in the spring or early fall. Space them about 2 feet apart, as they grow to be very tall and need some space.

When they start to grow, you will see that the flowers begin to bloom from bottom to top. The plants need to be staked and kept away from wind. If they are not staked they will tilt, due to their height. The wind could also hurt them and make them tilt and eventually kill them.

Water the plants, as they need it. Keep a careful watch over them in times of drought.

While they do require a little more work then some other summer flowers, they are worth the work in the end. Once you see the beautiful flowers blooming, you will be happy you decided to give them a chance!

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Azalea Flower

The Azalea flower is another one of summer’s most beautiful shrubs. They actually begin to grow in the spring, and continue their growth in the summer months.

Azaleas belong to the Rhododendron family. There are about 25 different species of this shrub. They grow well in a flowerbed surrounded by trees and other shrubs. They sometimes even bloom underneath trees.

Azalea Flower

Azalea Flower

They come in many different types, shapes, sizes, and colors. The choice is up to you on which style, shape, size and color you like best.

I myself love a medium sized shrub with hot pink tubular shaped flowers growing on the leaves. The bright pink colors of the flowers really brighten up my garden and I love it!

If you don’t like hot pink, the flower comes in many other colors as well. Almost any color you can imagine: white, yellow, light pink, orange, lavender, and red.

Even though they are related to the Rhododendron family, they distinguish themselves with oval shaped leaves, and smaller tubular shaped blossoms. They also can be shorter then the Rhododendron bush.

Azalea Flowers

Azalea Flowers

Dwarf sizes grow to only be about two feet tall, while some species can grow to be 20 feet! My Azaleas all seem to grow to be about 4 feet tall.

They truly are a versatile plant that can grow in flowerbeds, on there own, or even in flowerpots. They look beautiful no matter where you choose to plant them.

Azalea care is important so they grow to their best potential, they need to be planted in a spot that is shady. They can have some sun throughout the day, just make sure it is not too much sun. The more shade the better.

They should be planted in moist well-drained soil. They can be victims of root rot, so when planting your bush, do not cover the roots in too much soil. Mulch the plant instead. Dig your hole, put the shrub in, and then cover the roots and the base of the plant with mulch.

Water the plant regularly if in a drought. Fertilize the plant every spring to ensure re-growth is at its best.

Each year check the Azalea flower to see if there are any dead parts that need to be removed. Prune any and all dead parts to keep the bush looking beautiful.

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Sunflower

Sunflower (Helianthus annus)

The sunflower can be spotted in yards and gardens across the United States. Growing sunflowers is simply as easy as sowing seeds and these beauties can make a stunning addition to gardens without being time and labor intensive.

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • Scientific Name:  Helianthus annus
  • Life cycle:   Annual
  • Soil pH:  6.0 – 7.5
  • Plant hardiness:  All USDA zones
  • Light requirements:  Full sun
  • Water requirements:  Low
  • Fertilizer demand:  Low
  • Planting date:  After last spring frost
  • Flowering season:  Summer
  • Height:  Up to 16’
  • Colors:  Yellow
  • Pests:  Birds, squirrels, mildews, rusts
  • Propagation:  Seed

Sunflower Care

Sunflowers are summer flowers that grow in all USDA hardiness zones as long as they are planted in full sun locations. They need a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sun every day. The blossoms will “turn” to face the sun as it travels across the sky and can cast large shadows due to their size.

With this in mind, it’s best when growing sunflowers to plant them on the north side of vegetable gardens so they don’t shade out smaller plants.

They thrive in a variety of soil conditions but prefer loose, well-drained soil. This allows their long tap roots to stretch out and help anchor the top heavy plants. Sunflowers thrive in soils that are slightly acidic or slightly alkaline – with a pH ranging from 6.0 – 7.5 – which allows them to grow across so many hardiness zones.

They grow best from seed, begin planting sunflower seeds after the danger of frost has passed. If possible, work the seed bed really well in a 2 – 3’ diameter around where seeds will be planted and to a depth of 2’. This will prevent the soil from being too compact and encourage the spread of roots. Work a balanced, slow release fertilizer into the top 8” of soil and then plant seeds about 1” deep spacing then 6” apart.

A Field of Sunflowers

A Field of Sunflowers

After plants have germinated, water seedlings regularly at the root zone, about 3 – 4” from the stem of the plant. When the plants have established themselves well, switch to a more infrequent watering schedule to encourage deep rooting.

Sunflowers are drought tolerant and love the hot, summer sun, but they will benefit from a weekly watering from the time the flowers develop until they bloom. Adding a couple inches of mulch around the base of established plants will keep weeds down and also help retain soil moisture. Fertilizing sparingly to keep growth controlled; this prevents stems from breaking in the fall causing plants to topple over.

A full grown sunflower plant can range in size from a couple of feet tall (dwarf varieties) to towering heights of 16 feet. Their flower heads can span from a few inches across to almost a foot in diameter.

Due to the height of plants and the size of the flower heads, it may be necessary to help support established plants. This can be done with stakes or even simply tying them to a fence or other supportive structure.

Sunflower Pests

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are typically resistant to most insect pests. Their seed-filled flower heads will attract birds and squirrels as the season progresses. If you have no intent on harvesting the seed then there’s no need to protect the plants from these nuisance animals.

But if you want to use the seeds put some barrier methods in place to keep animals from snacking. Home and garden centers – as well as online retailers – sell polyspun garden fleece that can be used to cover flower heads and protect them.

Periodically plants fall prey to mildew or rusts. Cultural methods are the most effective ways to prevent and/or control these diseases: keeping the garden bed weed free, allowing good air circulation around the base of plants, and watering early in the morning.

If the mildew or rust is caught early an application of a garden fungicide can protect the healthy, uninfected foliage; heavily infected plants should be removed and discarded to prevent the spread of disease to other garden specimens.

Sunflowers make a fantastic, cheery addition to any garden space. Needing minimal care in terms of watering and fertilizing they grow to stunning heights and produce dinner plate sized flower heads.

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Zinnia Flowers

Zinnia flowers are a summer flower favorite of mine, and possibly a lot of other peoples too. What’s not to love with the warm colors, the bright green foliage, and of course the versatility these plants have to offer.

They are annual plants that are as easy to grow as they are to care for. One of the best reasons to plant these flowers in your flower bed is for the variety of colors they grow in. You have your choice from red, yellow, pink, purple, yellow, white and more.

Zinnia Flower

Zinnia Flower

You can go with one color of Zinnias, if you have a color scheme going in your garden, or have a plethora of colors that will really liven up your summer garden.

Besides coming in a variety of colors, they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can grow as tall as 3 feet high, while the dwarf varieties can reach about 1 foot. The size of your plants could determine where you want to place them in the garden.

This plant grow very quickly once planted. So you really should plan out when you want this plant to germinate, because almost as soon as you plant it, it will be ready to grow.

When I’m planting my Zinnias, I usually dig a hole, or a few holes, in my garden and sprinkle in an ample amount of seeds. I water them regularly until the flowers begin to sprout.

Once they begin to grow, they do not need to be watered as regularly. They are pretty tolerant of heat. If you are in a drought for a long while, then you may want to water them.

Besides being great plants for edging, bordering a garden, and filling up an entire flower bed, Zinnias also make lovely fresh cut flowers.

When your flowers are fully grown, simply cut a few that you would like to take indoors. Mix up colors and have fun pairing them with some other great summer flowers like Baby’s Breath and Cosmos.

Water the cut flowers daily to enhance their life to the fullest. With proper care they will last at least a week or so. And with them growing right outside your door, you have a vase of fresh cut Zinnias all season long!

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