What's Blooming in August

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Posted by @LarryR on
This article launches a new feature at All Things Plants. On the 15th of each month I will highlight plants blooming here at Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens. I'll have photos and will discuss the plants featured. You're invited to discuss these plants, too, but just as important, you're encouraged to show us what's blooming in your garden each month. I'll also have a monthly contest called "Name that Bloom." The first person to correctly identify the plant will have a photo of his/her choice published and featured in the following month. Be sure to check out this month's mystery flower at the end of this article.

© Larry Rettig 2011
Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky' and Garden Phlox now blooming in our gardens

garden in Iowa, where the first killing frost in October pretty much ends the growing season. So what happens then? Where will I find photos to feature? I  do have potted plants under lights and on window sills in the winter, but not many that bloom. This is where you, the reader, get to shine. I'll solicit photos from readers all over the world where plants grow and bloom when my garden is covered in ice and snow. Three photos will be featured each month during the off season. I'll choose the first, middle and last photos that I receive before a pre-determined deadline.

Sound like fun? I hope you'll join in!

So, here's a sampling of what's blooming in our gardens this month.

One of the more unusual plants in our potted garden is the Giant Potato Tree (Solanum wrightii), ordered this spring from Logee's Greenhouses.  A South American native, it's hardy in Zone 10 and higher.  That means I have to grow it as a potted plant and bring it indoors in the fall.

I've been very pleased with its performance so far.  It arrived this spring in a four-inch pot and was about eight inches tall.  At this point, I've already repotted it twice, and it's over three feet tall--well on it's way to a mature height of about eight feet.  If planted in the ground year-round, it may top out at 15 feet. And that's no small potatoes!

© Larry Rettig 2011
Giant Potato Tree (Solanum wrightii)

And the blossoms!  They're uniquely star-shaped in beautiful shades of violet-purple, blue and near-white.  The color changes from dark to light as the blossoms age. And they just keep coming.  If given enough light during winter, Logee's assures me that the tree will bloom year-round.  It will have a place of honor in our winter tropical garden under lights.  (More about this garden in a future article.)

Potato flower

No potatoes, though.   The Potato Tree gets it's name from the fact that it's in the Solanum genus.  This genus includes the potato plant and also the eggplant and the tomato. At left is a photo of the potato flower.  Note the similarity in the various components of the flower to those of the Potato Tree flower.  The potato flower is much smaller and doesn't exhibit the color change that makes the Potato Tree flower so interesting.

Also in bloom right now are the four plants whose flowers appear below.  Please click on the photos to enlarge them.

Daylily 'Peony Display'

Some double-flowered daylily varieties produce blossoms with sparse petals, are not well-proportioned and look lop-sided.  'Peony Display' has none of these problems.  It also has a high bud count with a prolonged blooming period.  If you like daylilies, especially those with double blossoms, this is one you shouldn't be without.

 Double Tiger Lily

© Larry Rettig 2011
Bulbils in the leaf axils

© Larry Rettig 2011          Daylily 'Peony Display'

© Larry Rettig 2011              Double Tiger Lily

© Larry Rettig 2011        Oriental Lily 'Casablanca'

© Larry Rettig 2011                Wine Cups Vine

In the last few years, double-flowered lilies have become popular, especially newly created ones just coming into the trade.  The Double Tiger Lily, however, has graced gardens since it was first introduced in 1870.  Like its sister, the single-flowered Tiger Lily, this heirloom variety produces bulbils in its leaf axils.  Bulbils are miniature bulbs that eventually drop to the ground and, if conditions are favorable, will send a taproot down into the soil and begin forming a new plant.  Bulbils can be harvested and planted or can be shared with fellow gardeners.  Each lily stem produces many bulbils, so the propagation potential is very high.

Oriental Lily 'Casa Blanca'

According to bulbandbloom.com, 'Casa Blanca' ranks second among the top ten most popular oriental lilies.  Not only is it popular among gardeners, it's a top choice for wedding centerpieces. It graces and perfumes the gardens of many well-know gardeners and has been featured in a number of home decorating magazines as room focal pointsFlorists consider 'Casa Blanca' a symbol of perfection.

The lilies in the photo started out as one bulb about five years ago.  I planted it just outside our screen house, so that my wife and I, as well as our guests, could enjoy the wonderful fragrance.  This lily has required absolutely no care.  I've never fed it, sprayed it or watered it.  The most I've done is pluck off a Japanese beetle or two.

© Larry Rettig 2011
Wine Cups ambling through perennial bed

 Wine Cups Vine

The Wine Cups Vine or Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) is one of the best-loved perennial plants in our gardens.  In the heat of mid-summer, when so many blooming perennials slow down or stop blooming altogether, Poppy Mallow provides welcome color as it weaves its way through flower beds. Never a thug, the vine simply passes through plants rather than clinging to them like most other vines do.  It's also drought-tolerant, another mid-summer bonus.  In our garden, it self sows modestly.

About Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens

Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, owned by Larry and Wilma Rettig, South Amana, Iowa, has been featured in local and national publications, on the Internet, and is listed with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as a national heritage garden. Larry and Wilma grow over 300 varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables. Since 1986, they have maintained a seed bank that preserves vegetable varieties brought from Germany to the Amana Villages during the 1850s.  More...








                                                          MYSTERY BLOSSOM FOR AUGUST

A native of the U.S., this plant's range covers the central third of the country from the border with Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico.  It is adapted to coarse- and medium- textured soils.  Drought tolerance is very high.  Minimum precipitation per year is 20 inches.  Cold tolerance is to -38 F.

The first person to correctly identify the plant will have a blossom photo of his/her choice published and featured the following month.

© Larry Rettig 2011


Scroll down to the forum at the end of this article.  Click on the thread, "August Contest Entries."  Enter the name of the plant, either one of its common names or its botanical name (genus and species).



Photo credits

Potato flower:  Courtesy of wikipedia.org and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

All other photos are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
August Contest Entries by LarryR Aug 27, 2011 2:32 PM 43
August survivors by jackieshar Aug 21, 2011 8:13 PM 1

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