The Q&A Archives: Water Ban

Question: I just bought a home with the front facing the hot westerly sun in PM WITH A LOCAL WATER BAN predicted for this summer. What, if anything, can I plant with lots of color that will bloom summer to fall? The house is green and I'd love lots of organge and yellows for walkway, hanging planters and 3 window boxes. I study your '98 catalog daily but am still unsure. Please help a novice not look foolish to her new neighbors.

Answer: Thanks for asking us to be part of this adventure! The first thing that pops to mind is Portulaca (moss rose). Burpee's 'Sundial Hybrid Mix' (p. 46) sounds like what you're looking for! Portulaca thrive despite drought - these little succulents are built for the challenge, and flower beautifully on neglect. They're low growing, so you can back them up with tall marigolds (pp. 39-41), tithonia and sunflowers (p.49), zinnias (pp. 52-53). Put thunbergia (p. 43) and nasturtiums (p. 44) inwindow boxes and planters. Deadhead (remove spent blooms) often to promote more flowering. <br><br>You can maximize your situation by making sure the plants get enough moisture early in the season, before the ban hits. Start seeds indoors so your vigorous transplants can take advantage of spring and early summer rains (hope they show up!). Mix Terra Sorb (p. 102) with soil in beds and planters to maintain a good supply of moisture around roots. Mulch beds with bark or straw to decrease evaporation. If you make sure to use an environmentally friendly dish soap, you can save dishwashing water for the garden. Your neighbors will be asking for your secrets soon enough!

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