- Special Sections
- Public Notices
One of the fun things about gardening is that it’s never the same from one year to the next. There are always things that work really well and others that just don’t turn out the way we expected. Here’s my mid-summer update on some of the good and bad in my garden this year:
Zinnias are popular annual flowers again because of series such as Profusion have good powdery mildew resistance. My summer annual color for this year includes several different zinnias. None of these seem to have powdery mildew resistance, so I have lots of dying leaves with the light-gray powder on the upper surfaces.
Most fungal diseases depend on lots of moisture on the leaf surfaces to get started. Powdery mildew is different. It likes lots of humidity but not rainfall. The conditions have been great in recent times for this disease to flourish.
If you don’t mind using fungicides, you can control powdery mildew. Products like thiophanate-methyl (Cleary’s 3336), myclobutanil (Eagle, Systhane) and propiconazole (Banner MAXX) work pretty well. Add a non-ionic surfactant to your spray solution to reduce the surface tension created by the powder.
If you don’t want to buy special surfactants, you can use liquid dishwashing detergent. A few drops per gallon are all you’ll need. Remember to add it last or you’ll have a sprayer full of soapsuds.
I’ll probably just give up on some of my zinnias that are in bad shape. Some things just aren’t worth the hassle.
One group of plants I tried for the first time in many years is Alternanthera. Most folks generically call these plants, “Joseph’s coat.” During a spring trip to Atlanta circling back through South Carolina, I picked up five different Alternantheras to try. Two have glossy, dark purple leaves. One is variegated and two others have interesting, contorted leaves.
I’ve been most impressed with the dark-purple varieties, although I did not use them to their best effect. They grow tall—24 inches or so—and make a strong vertical accent. Play them off a lighter color and finer texture and you have a combination that will have your neighbors asking, “What’s that?”
Most “Joseph’s coat” selections are grown strictly for their colorful leaves. The aforementioned dark-purple selections actually have showy dark-pink flowers. I’ll let you know how they hold up over the rest of the season.
No mid-summer state-of-the-garden address can be complete without a mention of one of my favorite groups of plants—crape myrtles. Most varieties are peaking just about now. My light-pink osage has really come into its own this year, as the bark ages and exfoliates and the flower bud set is improved.
The pink velour is nice but I’m not impressed with its vigor. The jury is still out on this plant with gorgeous burgundy new growth and rich, pink flowers. The only crape myrtle I’ve added this year is cherry dazzle. The dwarfs of the razzle dazzle series should be a part of every sunny garden.