There are lots of good plant choices for summer color!

What a difference we have this moist summer compared to the extreme drought of the last few Oklahoma summers. Usually we are spending much of our July gardening time watering by hose or sprinkler or repairing and troubleshooting sprinkler and drip irrigation systems. This year we have had to do remarkably little watering compared to normal as Mother Nature has been handling most of the watering responsibilities. As it warms up, you will still need to be prepared to water on those summer days and weeks that nature doesn’t provide adequate rain.

Many folks did not get as much planted as normal because of the extreme rains we got in May and some plantings drowned or were set back from standing water or soil that was super saturated with water and did not have adequate oxygen to allow plant roots to breathe. Most of the spring plantings that survived flooding are looking great now. It has been a long time since our trees, shrubs, lawns and flowers looked so lush and green in mid July across Oklahoma. The tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are bearing and sharing their harvest. The begonias, penta, geraniums, periwinkle, zinnias, marigolds and other color plants are blooming and putting on their own summer fireworks show. The flower bulbs of summer including cannas, dahlias and gladiolus are producing spectacular flowers that are like having a flower show in your own yard. To enjoy many of the flower shows you have to plan and plant ahead, just like dealing with our human goals.   Cannas, dahlias and gladiolus have to be planted in the early spring to enjoy them in the summer. Most of the annuals and vegetables had to be planted earlier this spring to enjoy the displays now after they have grown for 30, 60, or 90 days. There is still time to plan and plant many annual flowers and even vegetables to enjoy in the three and a half months left until our first normal freeze in early November.

Daylilies and crapemyrtle are two of the blooming wonders of Oklahoma summers. There are literally thousands of varieties of daylilies that bloom in virtually every color you can imagine. Some have single flowers and some have double flowers but they are exceptionally tough and although they freeze to the ground, they come back every year with their long green strap leaves and then produce waves of colorful trumpet shaped flowers. Crapemyrtle comes in many varieties ranging from a dwarf shrub all the way up to a small tree of fifteen to twenty feet tall. The most common crapemyrtle varieties grow to between six foot and twelve foot tall. Crapemyrtles love the heat and produce colorful pink, white, red or lavender flowers that will enchant your yard and neighborhood for many weeks from early July into September on some varieties. Many of the old time varieties were not as cold hardy and would freeze back to the ground and then re-sprout each year. The newer varieties are much more cold hardy and rarely freeze back although they go deciduous and drop their leaves each winter to expose their artistic bark patterns. The new varieties offer much more intense color selections and will bloom for longer time periods. Crapemyrtle breeding has been greatly advanced by work at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. and by the work of Oklahoma’s own Dr. Carl Whitcomb of Stillwater. It is fun to landscape your yard and neighborhood with plants that will be at their peak throughout all four seasons. There are lots of good plant choices for summer color so enjoy the flowers of summer.

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