Some Like It Hot


And some don't.

Most every day here has been 90F/32C since July 5th, one month ago.  According to the forecast, a long stretch of heat still lies ahead, with temperatures close to 100F on Monday and Tuesday and maybe Wednesday.  
Less roses, more Tecoma?  But I love roses...I only like Tecoma.
Little gardening is being done beyond watering plants enough too keep them alive.  The Aloe capitatas, which research indicated are native to areas of plentiful rain, have been getting a watering can full divided among them nearly every day:  improvement is noticeable in the form of fatter leaves, less curled leaves, new growth, more green, less I'm-stressed-red coloration.  
July 10, in need of increased irrigation:
August 4th, looking better:
 More irrigation has been necessary this summer than last because it has been hotter, and because we totaled less than five inches of winter rain this year.  The plants are crying for moisture, even well established, mulched, root-shaded plants.   I hear and respond.  

But dear Protea neriifolia, I am sorry!  The response was insufficient.
Some plants actually relish heat, providing they get sufficient water.  The Russelia, though they bloom year round, bloom most lavishly in hot weather.  I wonder if each flower produces more nectar at this time of year as well--the plants have been mobbed by hummingbirds. 
 Russelia, native to southern Mexico, is considered a tropical plant, though it easily handles our occasional 40F/4C winter overnight low temperatures without damage.  The above plant is the typical form.  Below is a more compact version:


Cuphea (this one is 'Vermillionaire®') is also found in warm-temperate-to-tropical areas of the Western Hemisphere.  It survives our mild winters looking a little tired, but thrives in heat. 
Bromeliads--it's not so much that they love heat, but that they dislike cold.  

 Another tropical Mexico plant, an Oncidium orchid, has bloomed.  Purchased last May, it is mounted on a board hung in the Acer 'Oshio Bene'.  The orchid gets spring/summer/fall dappled shade and in winter, full sun.  Some humidity rises up to it from the soil beneath.  This has served the plant well. 
 Pentas is native to much of Africa.
 Dahlia
 
Lagerstroemia 'Dynamite' is coming into flower.  Now that the pair of them have established somewhat, August seems to be their month.
 The Aloe is 'Cynthia Gitty'
 Lantana is at its best in hot weather.
 Kalanchoe luciae has a lot of new growth.
Ditto for Kalanchoe beharensis.
 'Cara Cara' orange fruit growing.  They will be ripe at Christmas. 
 Grevillea slow down in August, but 'Ned Kelly' has a few beautiful flowers despite.
 There's that Centaurea ragusina again.  Still flawless.  It's fortunate that at least some of the garden is perfectly happy in this miserably hot summer that succeeded a miserably dry winter. 
 A celebrated landscape designer named Jacques Wirtz has passed away, aged 93.  He began not as a landscape designer but as a gardener.  First and foremost, he knew plants.  "A garden that is not beautiful in winter is not a beautiful garden," he said.  Wise words--though here substituting "summer" for "winter" would be appropriate.

I've been very grumpy about all the heat damage in the garden, but there is plenty growing and beautiful still, if I just stop sulking long enough to notice.  

Comments

  1. I had a long discussion with some people (not from CA) about the difference between hot and dry... But when they combine like they are this summer, I'm not sure anyone, plant or gardener is happy. Thanks for keeping us updated on the Aloe - amazing to see how much difference more water makes for it. Do you think it's watering frequency or volume that's helping the most?

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    1. We've gotten some humid heat--tropical moisture from that big high pressure that has been either sitting over us or over Arizona for the past month. Shifting back and forth and back and forth a few hundred miles, either pulling up moisture or not depending on location. Not humid like VA or NC or SC, but humid for here.

      For the Aloe--frequency, I believe, as the volume is modest.

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  2. I completely understand your grumpiness. You've had some truly terrible temperatures to deal with this summer. We're about to get more 90 degree weather here, and though we just got a little respite last week, some people further north got a bit of rain during that time, but I didn't and I feel cheated. I too am trying to figure out what to plant that might be happier with less water and perhaps less fussing from a crybaby gardener.

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    1. Then we'll get a ridiculously rainy winter and all the xeric plants will rot. Gardening--gotta love it!

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  3. The difference in the Aloe capitatas is remarkable. Poor Protea neriifolia! And your Bromeliads shot made me gasp, so beautiful!

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    1. I cramscaped the Broms; it seems to work great!

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    2. It's been too hot to garden at all. That makes me very grumpy.

      It's good to focus on the few plants that do well in the heat. I am putting the hose on my Russelia this evening in the hope that it will do what yours did :) Thanks for the inspiration.

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    3. They are each gorgeous on their own, and fabulous together. What's the lobed-leaf plant? It's a perfect complement to the color-echoing bromeliad.

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    4. Rachel I'm trying very hard not to be grumpy, but it's a struggle. Russelia does like some water to look its best--hope that inspires your plant to get going!

      Nell, the Brom companion is Philodendron 'Golden Xanadu', which is an excellent plant. Tidy and well-behaved. 'Xanadu' is common, 'Golden Xanadu' less so. The color would be more golden in some sun--mine is in almost full shade.

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  4. The LA Times' cover article this morning is on our hot dry weather in California. It was very depressing and makes me even angrier at the fools that argue that climate change is a myth and refuse to focus on steps to reduce its rapid progress. I think we'll all be pushed further to identify the plants that can manage under hotter, drier conditions and to whittle down our collections of plants that need coddling. Your Russelias are fantastic - mine never looks that good but at least I have some flowers on it at the moment. I found myself admiring a large Tecoma yesterday but their mature size is a little scary.

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    1. Yes I read that article--grim.

      Russelias benefit from fertilizer, I read. You might try that. It takes a few years for them to really get going, too. At least that was the case here.

      That is Tecoma 'Sparky', which is one of the smaller ones, which is why I chose it. About 5-6' tall 3-4 wide, something like that. Also you can cut them back pretty hard.
      Also got 'Bells Of Fire' (big box store impulse buy) which is listed at 6x5'. Hey, it's for the hummingbirds...

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  5. Such an interesting post. I empathize. It is amazing, though, how many plants do relish the heat and will survive without watering if they manage to dig their roots down before the punishing heat. I'm looking for a spot for Aloes in my garden, your group look divine.

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    1. Survive, yes. Look pretty...not always. :( Many of the Aloes are easy to grow--try some!

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  6. Oddly enough, we have had very few really hot days here at the south end of the valley. Mid-to high 80's with rapid cooling when the sun goes over the yardarm I think I've use my A/C less than 5 times this summer and even then only for a couple of hours. That Centaurea is fabulous. So perfect !

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    1. "Rapid cooling when the sun goes down" is exactly what we are NOT getting . Who moved my garden to Alabama?

      I'm happy you are getting a good summer--maybe we'll get one here next year. Enjoy it for us.

      I've been through a few very crappy "Dusty Miller" types--this Centaurea is a dream come true.

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  7. Yes, you must embrace what is beautiful in your garden. It looks lovely via photos. It is disappointing having to watch some of your favorites decline/die. The Weathers haven't been kind to our gardens this year. Sigh...

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    1. Could be worse...Hawaii got a volcano eruption and is now expecting a hurricane. (Yikes!!)

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  8. You'll be OK with this new fire, the HolyFire in Cleveland NF except for the smoke, I hope?

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    1. The Holy is not an issue, thank goodness. We did keep checking the news, just in case. The faintest whiff of smoke at the apogee of our morning dog walk, otherwise nada.

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  9. You're right, there still is a lot of beauty in your garden despite the horrible dry heat. Hope you have a rainy winter this year and that your temperatures come down soon.

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  10. Your Centaurea has yellow flowers?

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    1. That particular species C. ragusina does have yellow flowers. If only they were blue...

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