Lots Of New Varieties To Get Excited About

GOOD GARDENING

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Gardeners always get excited when they learn about new plants. Recently, I had the good fortune to see some of the new roses which will be available for purchase in 2007. The finest for next year is called "We Salute You." It is a perfectly formed orange-red tea rose with a strong fragrance. It is absolutely gorgeous and probably worth every penny you will have to pay for it.

Other roses this season will be the pink/red/cream "Berries and Cream" and another is orange with a brown tinge and is named "Hot Cocoa."

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This "hedgehog" cactus is now in bloom. It is an Echinocereus species native to Arizona. This particular plant is growing in Tucson, but there are several species of Echinocereus which are hardy and grow in the wild of northern Arizona. All Echinocereus cacti have beautiful large flowers with green stigma lobes.

Other plants on the market

Day lily lovers will welcome a new variety with a black flower called the Natal Plum.

A small flowered zinnia, which is a prolific bloomer, will be fine for edging a border. A heliotrope, "Fragrant Blue," with deep colored and fragrant flowers is ideal for shaded areas.

For herb growers there is a new salvia/mint, "Magic Mountain," which is extra hardy and has purple flowers. It has more flavor in its leaves which are produced over a longer time, so it is slower to set seed than earlier varieties. There is also a new yellow/gold variety of cape honeysuckle.

If you live in a slightly lower altitude than Payson, with less frost, you may be able to grow "Sonoran Emerald," a thornless hybrid palo verde which is much more garden-friendly than other palo verde species. Check to see if there are other palo verde trees already growing in your neighborhood -- easy to see right now as they are in full bloom with a mass of wonderful, bright yellow flowers. Interestingly, they are in the pea family, the leguminosae. Notice their pods, like peas, later in the season. Newcomers to this state should know that the palo verde is Arizona's state tree.

Hanging basket plants

There are two new sweet potato vines, "Margarita," which has lime green foliage, an unusual and striking color, and "Blackie" with burgundy foliage. Both of these would be complimentary to an upright flowering petunia in a hanging basket.

Botanical Wonder

A generic cross has been produced which, until now, had been thought impossible. It is between Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix, the English ivy. The generic hybrid is Fatshedera lizei and its common name is "Botanical Wonder."

With its English ivy breeding, it may prove to be hardy. The pinnate leaves are a glossy green. Having seen only a young plant in a container, I do not yet know what its ultimate size and style of growth will be. Certainly, it will be an interesting plant to grow for those gardeners who love new things and challenges.

The coming of mosquitoes

Mosquitoes will soon be here. We all need to protect ourselves and our animals against West Nile Virus this season. Check your yards for any old standing water. Do you have old tires lying around which can hold water?

When you water your plants, check if there is a puddle that never dries out and could harbor mosquitoes.

If you have water buckets for animals, scrub them regularly and change the water every two days so mosquitoes don't get the chance to reproduce in your yard. Algae grows as the temperatures get higher. "Mosquito Dunks" are said to be safe to pets and wildlife and last a month in a water bucket. "Mosquito Bits" are smaller and last ten days to two weeks. These products both have the reputation of working well against mosquitoes.

If you have ponds or other water features in your garden, you could get some mosquito fish, which eat the mosquito larvae. You can buy a bag of these fish from fish suppliers and as they breed well you will quickly get an increase in numbers.

Do slugs and snails invade your vegetable patch and flowers? If so you should know about "Slugo," a new product to get rid of them, which is safe for use around pets and wildlife, unlike earlier slug killers. "Slugo" should be available now.

If you are seriously interested in any of these new plants or products, talk to your local nursery about them.

Fertilizers

When you purchase fertilizers for your plants, you may have noticed a set of three numbers on the bags, for example 16-6-8. Have you ever thought what they might mean? Maybe you purchased a tomato fertilizer, or one for roses, or for cacti, and didn't notice those three numbers.

Growing up in England before the days of packaged compound fertilizers, I had to learn what each plant needed and buy the appropriate chemical. Today, it is relatively easy.

In the example above, 16-6-8, the "16" is percentage of Nitrogen (N), the "6" is percentage of Phosphorus pentoxide (P), and the "8" is percentage of Potassium (K).

If the plant is weak and yellowing, it probably needs nitrogen -- the first number. So, buy a fertilizer with a higher N number. Nitrogen is the easiest problem to fix and it is usually the most deficient nutrient in our soils. Until you understand more about a plant's needs, it is preferable to stick with a general fertilizer with the three numbers as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20, which will give equal percentages of N-P-K.

Alternatively, buy tomato, rose, cactus, citrus fertilizer and read the instructions. The worse thing you could do would be to give too much nitrogen as the cold season approaches, encouraging too much tender young growth, causing the plant to die from the cold.

To have the healthiest plants, it is best to water regularly and mix into the water the recommended amount of the fertilizer you have chosen. Little and often is the best when it comes to applying fertilizers. It is not good to apply it just once in summer and make it extra strong as this could burn the plants, or even kill them.

Happy growing, and may you have a wonderful colorful display in your gardens this summer.

Garden Tour changed date

The local Garden Tour organized by the Rim Area Gardeners and originally planned for the first Saturday in June, has been moved to Saturday, Aug. 26 this year, because the drought is delaying the growth of plants this year.

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