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Summer flowers for the long haul.

Summer flowers for the long haul

Indian summer--with glorious warm,windless days that beckon you outdoors in the mild-winter West--comes at a time when gardens are often not at their best. By October, many summer bloomers have fizzled out, and winter-spring bloomers have yet to be planted.

If you choose plants carefully now, youcan enjoy blossoms well into fall. We asked nurserymen and horticulturists throughout the West which plants bloom most reliably over a long summer season. The 10 they agreed on are listed at right. These annuals and perennials--sturdy workhorses in beds and borders--are mostly natives of Mexico and the Southwest. They thrive in hottest weather. In most areas, all continue to give best color after other summer annuals have begun to die out.

Runners-up include portulaca (flowersclose at night), nicotiana (quits in early fall where nights are cool), dianthus Magic Charms, phlox (P.drummondii, blooms longest in mild areas of Southern California), and two best bets for shade: impatiens and fibrous begonias.

Throughout the low-elevation West, Mayis the best time to plant (hurry to plant by midmonth in the low desert). Nursery supplies of fresh young plants are good, and setting them out now will give them a chance to get established before temperatures rise. In cold-winter areas, plant after danger of frost is past. Most plants listed are sold in sixpacks or 4-inch pots; some come in 1-gallon cans.

Plant heat lovers in full sun in soil wellamended with organic matter. In the low and intermediate deserts, marigolds, salvia, and zinnias do best with some protection from hottest afternoon sun.

To keep flowers coming . . .

Fertilize and water regularly. Feed plantsevery two weeks with diluted liquid fertilizer. Or mix controlled-release fertilizer into soil at planting time.

Snip off spent blooms. Otherwise, manyof the plants listed--especially cosmos, coreopsis, gaillardia, and marigolds--will slow down or start to look weedy in fall.

Table: If you choose . . . What are flowers like? How long will they bloom?

Photo: Celosia's vibrant plumes stand up likecandle flames above green foliage. This grouping is Century Mixed

Photo: Bright blooms create festive backdrop for late-summer partyin Gordon and Francine Coleman's Eugene garden. Borden includes marigolds, zinnias, gloriosa daisies

Photo: Marigolds bear sunny October blooms in BethBenjamin's Boulder Creek, California, garden

Photo: Cosmos (C. sulphureus) Klondikestrain is prolific producer of 2-inch blooms in golden yellow to red

Photo: Long-blooming gaillardia "Goblin'has 3-inch yellow-tipped red flowers on mounding 1-foot-high plants

Photo: Blue and white salvias (S. farinacea)combine handsomely in border. Blue is most commonly available color
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1987
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