Our Plant Pick-of-the-Week: Rain Lily
Rain lilies are sometimes known as "fairy lily" and it's easy to see why. These little bulbs emerge as a petite 1x1' mound of grass-like foliage in the spring, where they look lovely nestled among sunny or partly shady borders. Somewhat reminiscent of Crocus, the flowers are small, funnel-shaped, and usually white or yellow. Rain lilies are the epitome of low maintenance, the only thing they require is well-draining soil. They thrive on neglect and will produce flowers in late summer or autumn, usually after rain, hence the name. Extra bonus: they are deer resistant!
Rain lilies are best used in the landscape as an accent in a border, their tidy growth habit makes them ideal candidates for filling in spaces around taller, summer blooming perennials. Just as the summer perennials are fizzling out, the rain lilies begin to shine, providing the late-summer garden with a pleasant pop of color.
It's Kevin's pick-of-the-week because:
"It's a very easy, low maintenance perennial. The flowers are a nice late summer surprise and the foliage adds textural contrast to a water-wise garden."
It's McKenna's Pick-of-the-Week because:
"It's an easy-to-grow perennial that comes back strong every year! The flower color is spectacular, and I'm impressed by how it blooms all summer without a lot of water."
Are you crazy for California natives? Learn more about the best California natives for the Sacramento valley.
For more ideas on how to re-vamp your yard to be more water wise, check out our Drought Tolerant Plant List.
To learn more about plants that are disliked by deer, check out our Top Water-Wise & Deer Resistant Plants for Sacramento Gardeners
Our Plant Pick-of-the-Week: Gomphrena 'Pink Zazzle'
Gomphrena 'Pink Zazzle' is a relatively recent introduction to the world of horticulture, and it has already made quite an impression. That's because this sun-loving, drought tolerant perennial flourishes in the scorching Sacramento valley summers. Even its flowers hold up in 100°F heat, because what appears to be the 'flower' is actually flower bracts. The true flowers are the small yellow star-shaped flowers nestled within these bracts, punctuating it with bursts of color as it slowly unfurls from the center.
It forms a low mound of fuzzy, bright green foliage about 8-16 inches high and wide. Its tidy growth habit makes it perfectly suited for container culture, where it looks stunning paired with "fillers" such as Nemesia and "spillers" such as Bacopa. Butterflies and hummingbirds will find it hard to resist those stunning blooms, making it a truly valuable plant to have in your garden. 'Pink Zazzle' loves the heat but hates the cold, so it's a perennial grown as an annual in our area. If protected from frost, it will likely return to dazzle you with another long-lasting show of flowers next year.
It's Jack's pick-of-the-week because:
"The flowers last forever, and when they start to fade to light pink on the edges, it gives a really cool transitional color effect."
More water-wise pollinator attracting container ideas...
Topics: Waterwise, Sacramento Low Water Plants, What Can I Plant This Season?, Flowers, Flowers in the Heat, Flowers for Hot Weather, Low Water Plants, Beneficial Insects, Container Ideas, Summer Flowers, Drought Tolerant
Now that the drought has done a number on our lawns, what are the choices for long-term water savings?
Mandatory water restrictions put landscapes a little lower on list of priorities. Most of us enjoy a lush landscape, so it’s good to know water restrictions don't make it impossible to create a very functional and enjoyable garden space without lawn. While so many gardeners are faced with replacing dead lawns this fall, it’s probably a prudent time to consider other options.
There are endless possibilities for lawn substitutes, and making the change is easy to do.
Take a look at a few of the options we suggest for long-term water savings:
The popularity of edible gardens has grown substantially in recent years, often taking the stage in front landscapes. The average gardener waters their tomato plants a little bit every day. Did you know a tomato planted in the ground prefers water just a couple of times a week in the height of the Sacramento summer? Most fruiting plants enjoy a deep soaking occasionally.
Vegetable gardens and fruit trees with mulch or traffic-friendly groundcovers make beautiful landscapes with the benefits of some shade, a variety of edibles, and considerable water savings.
Citrus and fruit trees are notable accents to an edible garden. A not-so-well-known fact is both are quite drought tolerant once established. Whether you enjoy oranges, apples, Australian finger limes or Jujube’s, the options and combinations are endless.
Groundcovers and Sub-Shrubs
Groundcovers are some of the more obvious choices for lawn replacements. They are best
suited for areas where there is light foot-traffic. Mix with a permeable surface, such as decomposed granite, gravel for paths. Sub-shrubs are placed where there is no traffic. They make the perfect filler for large areas.
California natives are high on the list of recommendations, although there are a number of non-native options. The benefit to natives is their built-in tolerance to the soils and water conditions in our area. Local wildlife thrives amongst native habitats.
California Natives Make Drought Gardening Easy and Beautiful
- California Wild Lilac (Ceanothus) ‘Carmel Creeper’ and ‘Centennial’ are two evergreen varieties that spread and stay fairly low. Blue flowers come in spring and bees love it!
- Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) ‘Emerald Carpet’ and ‘Massachusetts’ have pinkish white blooms that develop in spring. The dark green foliage contrasts well with dark red stems.
- California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica) comes in a few varieties that
fit the bill for sun/part-shade, summer to fall bloom, and, the hummingbirds love them.
- Ornamental Strawberry (Fragaria) is a tight, very low perennial groundcover for rock gardens and slopes.
- Dwarf Coyote Bush (Baccharis pililaris ‘Pidgeon Point’) is an evergreen sub-shrub that grows to about a foot tall, but spreads wide. Ideal for slopes!
Non-Native Groundcovers Well-Suited for the Sacramento Area
- Thyme is an aromatic groundcover with varieties that are perfect for
areas with foot traffic. Try 'Elfin' for a very tight cover, or a number varieties of Creeping Thyme between pavers.
- Sedum ‘Angelina’, ‘Dragons Blood’, and ‘Ogon’ offer color interest and require low water.
- Senecio ‘Dwarf Blue Chalks’ can add fun contrast and texture. Mature size is 1'x2'. Minimal water is required for this succulent, shrubby perennial.
Plant trees for reduced temperatures and cooler soil. Once established, many trees require less frequent watering. The cooler soil temperatures will benefit everything planted in the soil below.
- ‘October Glory’ Maple
One of the most desired maples, with dark green leaves in spring, turning radiant red in late fall. A fast-grower with a mature size of 45'x30'. It provides a beautiful shade canopy for larger landscapes.
- ‘Pacific Sunset’ Maple
A maple hybrid, its smaller size and tolerance for urban conditions makes this tree perfect for patios or small yards. Mature size is 25'x25'. Initially, it requires moderate to regular water but is drought tolerant once established.
- ‘Emerald Sunshine’ Elm
This Elm variety is highly resistant to disease. Its vase shape is well-suited for a street or landscape accent tree. Mature size is 35' x 25'. Deep green leaves turn to yellow in the fall.
- Arbutus 'Marina' (Strawberry Tree)
A one-of-a-kind evergreen tree. The mahogany bark peels back to reveal a cinnamon bark in the summer. Clusters of urn-shaped flowers draw hummingbirds, followed by bright orange-red fruit. Its mature size is 25'x25' and requires very little water once established. An eye-catching tree for smaller areas.
With summer heat, comes fungus and pests. As long as you know what to look for, you can stop them in their tracks!
Water Stress - an Open Invitation to Pests and Disease
While there are many ways a plant can develop stress, water stress is one that comes on strong during drought. Minimal water can limit a plant's ability to photosynthesize, preventing strong growth and development.
And, while your intentions may be good, some watering practices during the heat lend themselves to mold and mildew generation.
Following our Watering 101 Guide will help you to determine the best methods to create a water-wise system for your plants. Consider plant type, soil type, plant size and location, and the season.
Selecting plants that are ripe for your location, and water availability, is a critical step to growing a healthy garden. Talk with one of our garden gurus to ensure you have the right plants and the best irrigation for a water-wise set-up.
Fungus can come on quickly if the conditions are right. Spores multiply and spread as temperatures turn from cool to warm and wet. Identifying and treating infestation is key to the survival of your plants.
Powdery Mildew is a fungus with which most of us are familiar.The white, powdery blotches damage the leaves, leaving the plant unable to produce growth, blooms and fruit with much vigor.Powdery Mildew fungi are host-specific; that means the Powdery Mildew on your roses will not move to your grapes.
Grey Mold is a fungus that primarily arrects wounded plants. Too much moisture is one of the main causes of Grey Mold.a fungus that primarily affects wounded plants. The moldy spots can appear on the leaves, stems and buds.
3 Conditions Every Fungus Loves:
- High humidity during twilight hours
- Temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees
- Poor air circulation
6 Tips to Control Fungus:
- Water early morning
- Avoid overhead watering
- Space plants apart for good
- Clear away leaf litter
- Check plants regularly for signs
- Spray with preventative sprays
While so many insects are barely visible to the naked eye, the damage they do is oh so obvious. Aphids, spider mites, and thrips all feed on plants by puncturing the surface and sucking the sap. Plant growth is stunted as a result, and fruits and flowers are less abundant.
- Aphids are particularly fond of new growth. They multiply quickly but the damage the do is slow-moving which makes them
easy to control.
- Spider Mites are evident when the leaves show yellowing in very
small dots. Extreme infestation will be obvious with webs cast around the damaged parts of the plant.
- Thrips (photo right) in the Sacramento area love a tasty Rose bud. They enjoy the petals before the bloom opens. Although, they will dine on vegetables and herbaceous plants as well.
How about the more visible critters? Grasshoppers, caterpillars and hornworms work diligently to chew through quickly.
- Grasshoppers ravenously chew on trees, shrubs and just about
everything growing. Two things they do not like are tomatoes
- Caterpillars enjoy a diverse diet of plants, fruit and nectar.
- Hornworms love tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. They typically eat the top of the plant at night and the underside during the day.
So Chew on This...
There are simple, safe nursery products for controlling diseases and insects quickly. Check out four tried and true products from Bonide® and Monterey:
- Captain Jack's DeadBug Brew™
Stops foraging immediately; kills in one to two days; doesn't harm most beneficial insects and is for organic gardening. Perfect for fruit, veggies and herbs.
One of few pesticides to control grasshoppers; kills and repels for up to 30 days; use most anywhere for any bug - even on your edibles.
Insecticide, miticide and fungicide; kills on contact; use on edibles, roses, flowers, houseplants and more.
- Liquid Copper Fungicide
For organic gardening; prevents Powdery Mildew, Grey Mold and more; can be used on a wide variety of plants.
- Monterey Take Down Spray
A natural insecticide and miticide with pyrethrin effective in treating aphids, mealy bugs, caterpillars and more.
If you're rethinking your yard for water efficiency, it helps to know your natives. Native plants, that is! There are over 5,000 species of plants that are native to California. Of those, over 2,000 are endemic, meaning they aren't found anywhere else in the world.
Why grow California natives?
- They are tough.
- Plants that are native to California are perfectly adapted to our climate, including our long, hot, and dry summers.
- They are easy.
- These plants require very little maintenance and add to the natural beauty of your landscape.
- They are drought resistant.
- Once established, they are low water plants, saving you money and conserving water.
- They attract native pollinators and beneficial insects.
- Providing food and habitat for native insects is the cornerstone of integrated pest management, and is the best way to build a healthy organic garden.
The following is a small sampling of gorgeous, tried and true native perennials which have earned their place in our nursery, and in your garden!*
Check out our California Native Landscape 2.0 design for ideas
California Native Plants for Sacramento
Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
This compact beauty only grows one foot tall by three feet wide, and is covered in clusters of reddish-pink blooms summer through fall. It provides food for bees and butterflies and in addition is deer resistant.
Penstemon ‘Margarita B.O.P.’
Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita B.O.P.’
The flowers of this penstemon can be sky blue or violet purple, or both at the same time! This dreamy perennial grows only two feet tall and wide. It is very attractive to hummingbirds and bees, and will bloom continuously spring through summer if trimmed back occassionally.
This evergreen shrub grows four-to-five feet high and wide and it’s greyish-green leaves emit a strong herbal aroma. Blooming in late spring and early summer, spikes punctuated with whorls of tubular blue flowers beckon hummingbirds, bees and butterflies to your garden. Deer resistant!
Epilobium canum (Zauschneria californica)
Bearing little resemblance to other varieties of fuchsia, CA fuchsia is by far prettier, tougher, and more irresistible to hummingbirds! It forms a soft mound of grey-green foliage, topped with tons of striking red-orange tubular flowers summer through fall. Reaching about three-to-four feet high and four-to-five feet wide, it is a great choice to plant en masse on dry slopes. Deer resistant!
*Inventory levels are subject to change, please call stores for current availability
Do you like butterflies? Learn even more ways to bring them in your yard.