If you don’t have a crape myrtle in your landscape, then you’re missing out on a lot of easy color. Just look around as you drive through Shreveport and Bossier City as well as most of the surrounding areas and you will see crape myrtles of several colors blooming in nearly all landscapes. This tree that some people refer to as the “Lilac of the South” provides us with a summer full of color if we remove the little balls (which are the tree’s fruits) that are formed from the first flowers to appear.
This action stimulates additional flowering that stretches the tree’s production of color to as long as sometimes 100 days. I will admit that removing the fruit is a bit tedious and on tall trees may not be convenient of even possible. Should a second round of blossoms occur, the fruit removal procedure may be repeated. Although unlikely, fruit removal can be repeated on even a third flowering. When the fruits on tall trees cannot be reached with a pole pruner, don’t risk doing the job from a ladder.
Another tree that can add color to an early summer landscape is the Vitex. Its purple blossoms are sometimes present when few other colorful plants are in blossom. And now I believe it’s available in other colors.
Many landscapes feature beds of annual flowers which naturally increases landscape color. However, a close look usually will reveal that the intense color most had during the late spring has faded to a large degree in the extreme heat we have been experiencing. Since many of these species are not the types that will endure summer heat, now would be a good time to rework the beds and swap out species that can tolerate high summer temperatures. When renovating such beds, remove all flowers even though some may still look good and add additional organic materials along with appropriate fertilizers. Don’t overdo the fertilizer as there probably is some left in the soil from the earlier planting. Now it’s time to go shopping. Visit nurseries and garden centers and see what they have to offer in terms of heat-tolerant or heat-resistant species of annual flowers and check out their condition before you make the purchase. Also, be aware of the colors so it looks like your bed is coordinated. Water the renovated bed thoroughly before planting the “new” flowers and spread a reasonably thick organic mulch over the top. Continue to water as needed.
Another way to get summer color is to plant the seed of flowers that can stand the heat. Planted in moist soil, which should be relatively warm now, the seed should germinate quickly. A light mulch over the seeded area may provide enough shade to keep the soil from getting too hot.
Landscapes that have posts, fences or some type of vertical support should not overlook vines that flower during the summer period. Most of these will be perennial-type plants and a good many will be evergreen.