July started off with a bang, literally. The monsoon came in like clockwork on July 1, which is the norm here (it might not start on July 1 every year, but it does usually start up sometime in early July). With near-daily thunderstorms, I was able to skip waterings here and there. The soil was often saturated in the mornings and I didn't want to overwater.
I think the flowers were at their peak of attractiveness during this time. The lobelia was still holding its own and the verbena was just starting to trail a bit. The petunias were giving me trouble again, though. I was finding more and more caterpillars on them. I ended up buying a spray at Lowe's, Garden Safe pest repellant spray for organic gardening. I really doused the whole planter with it but the effects only lasted a couple of days. For the price of the spray, it seemed like a waste of time and money, but I continued using it a few times a week. I felt it couldn't hurt and I did eventually see a few new petunia blooms.
Lots of rain over the past two weeks. I think the plants grew a lot and it has been nice not to have to water every morning. The geraniums and verbenas continue to be the most prolific plants in the bunch and I think they're looking very lush and colorful. The lobelia is getting crowded, I think. And the petunias are doing okay, but not great. They are flowering again, albeit with smaller, crumpled-looking flowers. I'm still picking the caterpillars off when I see them, but they are slightly diminished. I've been trying to figure out what kind they are; I'm seeing lots of swallowtail butterflies in our mimosa tree and I think they might be swallowtail larvae. If so, they make a beautiful butterfly but they're a real nuisance as caterpillars. Maybe I'm seeing fewer of them as they progress through the life cycle, though, which is a good thing.
I hadn't used any Miracle Gro since the monsoon started but I gave them a dose this week. I was noticing that some of the geranium flower heads were looking sparse and spindly, and thought they could use a feeding. I was using it every two weeks but I've slowed down lately, between the rainfall and the fact that I've been putting the pest spray on lately; I don't want to overwhelm the plants with chemicals.
I lost a petunia plant altogether this week. There was one at the left-hand side of the planter as you face it. One morning I came out to find that it was brown and sickly-looking. There were a couple of caterpillars on it, but I can't say whether that was related. Those caterpillars rile me up. I'm not happy about them. Thankfully, I'm seeing fewer all the time.
The lobelia is looking really choked. I will have to see if I can find a more trailing-type of lobelia, which might be able to climb out from under the other plants more easily.
Otherwise, the verbena and geraniums continue to grow like weeds, threatening to engulf everything else. I really like the look of all the red and pink flowers together; I often peer out at the planter from the sliding door off the breakfast nook and think how happy it makes me to have colorful annuals in my own yard, finally!
Well, the lobelia is all but swallowed alive by the verbenas. It was nice knowing you and your pretty blue flowers, lobelia.
The whole planter is looking a little wild to me these days. I keep dead-heading and clipping off spent flowers as I see them, but I think maybe the planter has been getting a little too wet. Last week was dry and I ended up needing to water most mornings. But maybe the soil was still wet underneath and I just didn't realize it. Either way, the rain is back this week and I've been holding off on watering again, since a little has fallen every day and the forecast seems to be the same for the foreseeable future. I'll wait until I think they need more water.
I'm still enjoying the colors very much, even though things are looking a little scrappier now. One thing I've learned is that verbena and geraniums grow like crazy, while petunias get eaten and lobelia kind of disappears in the jungle of other plants. I think that I will avoid petunias and lobelia in this planter in the future. If this year is any indication, I should be able to cultivate quite a lush assortment of geraniums and verbenas all by themselves in the future.
The monsoon will continue, and August is technically our wettest month here, so the watering may continue to be infrequent. But I will take it day to day, of course. I will probably give another Miracle Gro feeding soon, but may hold off on the pest-repellant, since the petunias have seemed better in late July.
I will need to start thinking about what I want to do with the geraniums. I know they can be saved indoors over the winter, but I need to read about that. August will continue to be warm and summery, but by the middle of September the nights will be cool so I'll need to think ahead for that too. I'm fine with losing annuals after a growing season, in any case. I've enjoyed having these but they're cheap to replace and this was sort of experimental anyway.
☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂
How are your annuals doing this month, if you plant them?