Gardening Tips From The Pros

Here are the plants and gardening suggestions that the Plant Pros recommend for hot dry summers just like the one we had.  Take note of these plants and tips and use them for next year’s garden.

“This was really a year where heat-loving, drought-tolerant plants thrived.  So I was happy to see my coneflowers, butterfly weed, and verbena canadensis — all natives — take it on the chin without flinching.  I can’t say the same for my hydrangeas and other fussier perennials.  Next year I’m going to look for opportunities to work in more native plants to my garden, just because they’re low maintenance and super tough.  Less watering means more “hammock time” for me!”

Kim Reiss, Sugar Creek Gardens,
1011 N. Woodlawn, Kirkwood 63122,
314-965-3070, www.sugarcreekgardens.com

“This summer was one of trials and tribulations.  When it comes to shrubs; crape myrtle, butterfly bush, and althea came through with shining colors.  They love hot and dry weather and that, for sure, is what we had.  On the annual front; geraniums, zinnias, marigolds and petunias also faired OK as long as they were kept watered. Vegetable gardens took the worst beating, and we have heard both success and failure stories on everything you can possibly grow in your garden.  Square foot and vertical gardening are still growing in popularity and interest.  I hope this continues next year and that our new gardeners don’t get discouraged after a summer of dome and gloom!”

Sandi Hillermann McDonald, Hillermann
Nursery, 2601 E. 5th Street, Washington, MO
63090. 636 239-6729, www.hillermann.com

“Nothing really performed that well this summer without a little help with watering. However, we found a number of plants that outperformed most with the hot, dry weather we had all summer long. Many of the Crape Myrtle did well like ‘Violet Filli’, ‘Pink Velour’ and ‘Dynamite’ to name a few. Ornamental grasses like the native ‘Prairie Dropseed’, ‘Little Bunny’ and ‘Adagio’ take our summer well. For ground cover, Sedum like ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’ can take the heat, but again need a little help with the watering.”

Daniel Mee, Frisella Nursery, 550 Hwy F,
Defiance, MO 63341, 636 798–2555.

“Saint Louis has some unpredictable and downright crazy weather that can create some unique problems for Gardener’s. There are, however, a few things that you can do to ensure an abundant harvest, even in our extreme summer heat. For example, apply a Calcium and Magnesium supplement to Tomatoes to help the fruit set and prevent Blossom End Rot, use a water soluble mycorrhizae to promote a strong root system which equals more nutrient uptake, use a Silica product for thicker cell walls in your plants which in turn helps them deal with stress better, and you can treat you garden with Beneficial Nematodes to help with year ‘round bug control. Happy Gardening!”

Rusty Ake, Worm’s Way, 1225 N. Warson Rd, St.
Louis, 63132, 314 994-3900, www.wormsway.com

“The successful gardener learned how to apply a good deep watering of 8-12″ deep. Just do it like a good slow rain. You know how much things look better after a good slow rain!  Plants that did well this summer – New Salvia Sensation, Deep Blue bloomed late April into July, then deadheaded and bloomed a little more in August  – Echinacea’s Hot Papaya – Pow Wow Wild Berry – Coreopsis ‘Sienna Sunset’ bloomed late April into September when cut back and dead headed -Dianthus ‘Neon Star’  beautiful glowing magenta color, great low growing,  blooms heavy  in spring and a repeats bloom all summer when dead headed.  For the shade – Hakoneacloa ‘Aureola’ a nice low growing golden Japanese grass and Heuchera ‘Caramel’,  takes the heat well and keeps it’s color!”

Barry Ritter, Ritter Perennials,
available at locally owned garden centers,