Mid-April seems to be the best time to plant–earlier, and frost is still possible, much later, and there is a chance the rains will stop. It could easily be 95 or hotter by the first weekend in May, which would fry tender, young plants.
Some plants are real troopers. Angelonias and lantanas will grow anywhere—they laugh at heat and sparse rain. Pincushions, which I love, cannot handle the heat—even with every-other-day watering. Coneflowers and black-eyed Susans are prairie weeds, so they can take a pounding from the sun as well.
Verbena is still a question mark for me. I have seen it flourish without help and die when doted on and everything in between. Lavender verbena planted last year did well, then died over winter. Yet, one came back this spring. The scarlet in the sidewalk strip was drowned and disappeared, but a few came back this spring, too.
I ponder these things because, in April, I bought a few hundred dollars worth of plants and could not plant them. They sat in their original containers, slowly dying, on the porch. About eight of the original 40 died by mid-May, and many of the rest looked as if they had little time left. Watering plants on the porch breeds mosquitos—a walk to the car or to get the mail means jumping into the food chain at the wrong end. So, I had a dilemma: plant in July, a big no-no, or watch as a few hundred dollars worth of plants withered and died. I chose to plant.
Since verbena and Angelonia are fighters, I decided they had the best shot at surviving. Rain was forecast for the upcoming Tuesday, and there was at least a 50/50 chance for the next ten days, so I took a chance on the society garlic too. The rest I decided to put into four large flower pots.
So, what happened??
Today, six weeks later, the pots are still empty, but I got the rest in the ground! And miracle of miracles, it has rained about every three to four days since that initial Tuesday. Our water bill, which easily is in the hundreds monthly each summer, is about the same as it has been for a usual winter month.
The Angelonias planted in full sun are thriving as expected. Those planted closer to the house have more shade than they like, and so are dying. All verbena plants all doing well. The lavender/purple are blooming happily, and the peach joined in this week. The society garlics I fretted over have done better than the others with plenty of flowers and full foliage.
Overall, this is not the best season I’ve had, but thanks to the rain, the losses have not been as bad as I feared.