The Accidental Gardener: Summer gardening survival guide

Tips for braving the heat and having beautiful beds

One of the best things about the Lowcountry is the warm weather. One of the worst things about the Lowcountry is the warm weather. This is particularly true if you want pretty flowers to add a punch of color to your gardens or patio pots in July or August. A number of spring flowers will wilt in the hot humid summer, reminiscent of the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Petunias, million bells, geraniums and a whole host of other annuals that thrive in the spring sunshine need to be moved to the shade if there’s any hope of their surviving until fall. So what can you plant that will take a beating from the sun and humidity? Actually, you have a few stellar options:

1. The first option is the reliable Pentas. 

Pentas is one of the best pollinator-attracting plants around. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather conditions. The large clusters of starry blooms on Pentas are the perfect resting place for butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Depending on the variety, they typically will grow from 18 to 36 inches as an annual and are available in purple, red, white and pink. Pentas grow equally well in the ground and in containers. You may choose to pinch back the early growth in order to encourage bushier plants.

2. Oh, so you’re looking for a shorter plant? Then the victorious Vinca Flower is for you.

Abundant blooms and ease of care make Vinca (Catharanthus roseus) an excellent selection if you have little time to tend your garden. Useful in borders, flowerbeds, rock gardens and containers, the Vinca flower provides instant color wherever it grows. The round, flat blooms appear on top of 12- to 15-inch stems. Many cultivars are described as “with eye.” These varieties feature one color in the center of the bloom that fades out to a main color. Flower colors can be pink, red, white, or purple. While an annual here in the Lowcountry, vincas (NOT the new dwarf variety) will actually reseed themselves if you don’t mind keeping the dead stems through the winter. What could be more fabulous than that?

3. Oh, so you’re actually looking for a larger flower? Then you simply must try Dipladenia (Dips).

Dipladenia is often confused with Mandevilla. At a quick glance, they appear identical, but dips have smaller leaves and flowers than its cousin and they lack the hard leaf ridges found in Mandevilla. Also, while Mandevilla are vigorous climbers, dips tend to be bushier in form, which is fabulous for both containers and gardens. While the dipladenia flowers are somewhat smaller (but not by much) than Mandevilla, these little plants are blooming tanks which attracts hummingbirds galore. Also, unlike the beautiful but lazy Hibiscus, these plants bloom nonstop – no resting and then blooming for them. Oh, and did I mention that they do NOT need to be deadheaded? I’m in love. 

4. Oh, so you were really looking for a short plant with blue flowers? Well, then you definitely need Blue Daze (Evolvulus glomeratus).

This is one plant that likes it hot! Blue Daze is an evergreen member of the morning glory family with downy leaves and small blue flowers. It’s my go-to plant for a container “spiller” and while it is sold as an annual, it often over winter spreads when planted in my garden. Just be careful to not over water – it does not tolerate soggy soil. Blue Daze is a low maintenance plant that requires minimal care to thrive, is tolerant of salty conditions (including direct salt spray) and is deer resistant. What’s not to love?

Looking for something else? Well, Sugar, Honey, Ice Tea, I give up. Happy Gardening y’all.

All Saints Garden Tour unveils notecard fundraiser following cancellation of 2021 event

From 1988 through 2019, All Saints Episcopal Church hosted a spring garden tour, showcasing spectacular gardens in our area to benefit local charitable organizations. Not to be bested by Covid, Garden Tour organizers put on their thinking caps and created a collection of beautiful notecards, featuring the artwork from eight past garden tour posters. The inside of the assorted cards are blank, so they’re perfect for almost any occasion. 

Take note- Purchase a packet of eight All Saints Garden Tour poster cards for a donation of $20 at: 

  • All Saints Episcopal Church
  • The Greenery
  • The Green Thumb 
  • Bruno Landscape & Nursery
  • Pyramids
  • Birdie James
  • Burke’s Pharmacy
  • Wild Birds Unlimited


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