By David Taffet

Daffodils, like these that bloomed at the Dallas Arboretum, can turn an ordinary landscape into one bursting with spring and summer colors. – Photo by ARNOLD WANYE JONES

Why stop decorating with your interior? Colorful plants can make any yard stand out

Do you like having a garden but find too much green uninteresting? Bob Watchorn with Calloway Nurseries says there are a number of ways to add color to a garden.
Watchorn advises buying plants right for the area and to plant them in appropriate sun. Too much heat radiated from the house can be more damaging to some plants than too much sunlight.

The easiest way to add instant color is with annuals, but bulbs, bushes and perennials are other good options, though they require some planning. Here’s a guide:

Begonias: red, white, pink and yellow varieties are easy to propagate from cuttings; they thrive in full sun to shade.

Vinca (or periwinkle):
violet flowers that like sun to partial shade; good drought tolerance.

bloom continuously through summer if faded flowers are pruned; over-fertilizing produces more leaves but fewer blooms.

Bulbs and tubers
Tulips are pretty but grow best in Holland or the northern U.S., and their season is basically over. For North Texas, Watchorn recommends these other bloomers.
Daffodils and narcissus (a small daffodil): colorful, they grow in full sunlight; plan to plant from October into November (plant too early and they’ll sprout too early).

Canna: Large, showy blooms in yellow, orange and red bloom through summer until the first frost; they flourish in heat with plenty of water.

"Once the flowers are spent, cut the stems off, but don’t cut the leaves off — the leaves replenish the bulb for next year," Watchorn says. The bulbs multiply and he recommends digging some of them up to thin some years.

Dianthus: Common varieties that grow well in Texas includes Sweet William; they thrive in full sun.

these bloomers grow best in full sun.

Echinacea (or coneflower):
"One of the easiest things to grow," Watchorn says. "They will come back each year from the same plant but also produces voluminous amount of seed."

Crape myrtle: Though native to Asia, this plant with white, pink, red and purple blooms was introduced to North America in 1747 and is now the official state shrub. There are many varieties in all sizes, from 18 inches to more than 20 feet tall.

Grow thick and make good hedges; the new growth leaves are red in color.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice – Great Spaces print edition April 18, 2008.
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