Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GBBD : July Wilt

July wilt. You won't find it listed under pests and diseases in your gardening books, but it's one of the worst threats to the garden I know. July comes, the temperature rises over 35°C (95°C), the humidity soars, and the plants wilt. And so does the gardener.

The good times are over. May and June, when everything was green and bursting into bloom, seem far away. Some things resist - these little pelargoniums are doing well - this is the second time they've flowered, and so are several of the surfinias and petunias - though I've lost a lot of others.

But they're the exceptions. All over the balcony plants have succumbed to the heat, to pests or to fungus diseases, leaving tell-tale brown patches in the containers which have to be filled with tougher plants, that resist better. But who has the energy to get to the garden center and buy them? I take advantage of the cool half hour after a late afternoon storm to run out and pick up a few periwinkles - a Godsend at this time of the year. They come into bloom just as everything else is dying, love the heat, and never seem to be touched by any sort of pest or disease. Regularly in July I find myself saying - To hell with it. Next year, I'm just growing periwinkles.

And for the small gaps there are always baby spider plants to be detached from their "mothers" and tucked into the pots. Not desperately impressive maybe, but better than brown spaces.

Not everything hates the heat of course. The plumbago thrives in it. I had disappointing results with my plumbago last year because I'd moved it to a place where it didn't get enough sun, and hadn't bothered to prune. This spring I cut it right back and moved it back to the balcony railing, where it had always been happy before. And once again, it's been full of blooms - they've occasionally been spoilt by the thunderstorms, but there have been so many that within a couple of days it's bounced straight back.

There's not much else to show for this month's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, but one container has surprised me.

My calendula have done well this year and are full of buds. They usually submit to mildew fairly early on, but this year have been fine. I miscalculated a bit with the arrangement - I thought the marigolds would be taller and the calendula shorter - perhaps I should have pinched them out. And don't ask me how that sunflower got in the back there. I've left him because at least he matches the colour scheme ...

I found out today that Milan is classed as having a humid subtropical climate - that's the same as the south-eastern states of the US - Alabama, Mississippi and so on. Which in one way is a lucky coincidence, because it means that my new balcony experiment might not be so crazy after all. I'm growing a plant which I've not seen in Italy before, but which would be right at home in Alabama. It germinated about a fortnight ago and is growing fast. Any guesses?


Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Hi Sue! Very interesting post! I like your attitude! Do you think spider plants will tolerate some sun? Calendula - I love it! All other plants still look lovely on your balcony!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Hi Sue, Your flowers are great, I see no July Wilt! Come to Tidewater Virginia...everything has wilt! We are soooooo dry! As much as I hate to do it now --midafternoon--I need to give some plants a drink.
I have no idea as to your seedling.

Kate said...

Hi from Portland, Oregon! The seed leaves look like ivy (Hedera) but the first true leaf resembles sweet potato (Ipomea). But peanut keeps coming to mind... do tell!

Town Mouse said...

That's interesting, I had no idea Milan was so humid. Makes me appreciate the mediterranean climate we have here in CA... Though things wilt here as well.
Happy bloom day!

Scattered Gardener said...

Hi sue, belated happy bloom day. No idea what the seedling is. Your pelargonium and surfinia are looking much better than mine in the heat, as we had some rain this week I've stopped watering and they've suffered in the early morning sunshine...and my calendula have all run to seed in the front border. But the marigolds are doing better than expected in with the tomatoes. YOu win some, you lose some!

LadyLuz said...

Shame about the wilt, Sue. We get it too- many plants just cave in.

How about getting some sulphur powder for next year which you can pat on with it in a sock and that helps the mildew.

~~Rhonda said...

Sue, the flowers look beautiful. I have never grown plumbago. It has a lovely blue color. I'll have to add that to my want list. ~~Rhonda

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