Horticulture’s Summer Prep at the Dallas Arboretum
As we enter the true summer season at the Dallas Arboretum, the horticulture team has many items on our to-do list in order to prepare the garden for Texas heat. Temperatures really begin to heat up in June, typically marking the end of the planting season in this region. It is time to finish up spring chores and help the garden ease into summer.
When preparing for the deep summer months, we schedule our planting projects during the cooler spring months to ensure that our plantings are as successful as possible. We try to get the majority of our plant material in the ground by early June at the latest. Not only is it easier to acclimate new plants in cooler temperatures, especially with mild night temperatures, but it is also much less taxing on gardeners to complete garden overhauls earlier in the season. This technique also provides us with several months’ worth of new growth, almost acting as a “head start” that effectively doubles the size of our garden by August.
We are very effective at choosing the proper plants for our summer climate, meaning shrubs and flowers that can withstand high temperatures on a daily basis, with a propensity for being drought tolerant. Varieties of Gomphrena, Vinca, Zinnia, Canna and Portulaca are just a few examples of summer annuals that can take almost any circumstance our Texas heat can throw at them and they consistently perform well throughout the season.
Summer perennials are also added to the garden by May, to get them into place for a summer show. Phlox, Salvia, Hardy Hibiscus and Echinacea, once established, bloom all summer for us. In fact, they often grow so vigorously that we have to prune them by mid-summer just to keep them from falling over!
We like to add fall-peaking plants to garden beds as well, including Mexican bush sage, Asters, Japanese anemone and Pink muhly grass in the spring, so they will be ready to later lead us out of the summer.
Here in Texas, we have discovered that the inclusion of tropical plantings throughout the garden is a great option. They provide a size, shape, and texture that we look forward to in July and August. Our favorites include Portora, Calidora, Black Ruffles and Tea Cup Calocasia. They add stunning height to our beds, and great seasonal interest to our containers.
Preparing for the hot summer months in the garden is a multi-faceted process that requires taking many things into consideration and making the necessary adjustments.
If you’re working on your summer garden, remember to change watering practices as temperatures increase and rainfall amounts decrease, from shallow frequent watering, to more measured, deeply saturating drenches to give your plants the best chance at success and to push the larger-than-life growth we look forward to every summer!