March 8th, 2002
Starting Seeds for Summer

When the gardening bug bites, it’s usually too late in the season here in Austin, to plant anything that will survive the searing heat of the coming summer.

The trouble with spring in Austin is that the gardening bug bites at a time when it is almost too late to plant anything. We have a growing season of about 90 days, counting from our last freeze date to the time the temperatures reach the high 90s.

I don’t grow a lot of summer annuals from seed because it takes too much water to keep them growing through the summer–my water ration is for the roses and the vegetable garden. I’ve switched to perennials (crape myrtle, esperanza, Rose of Sharon, vitex, ruellia) to provide summer color.

However, there are some annuals that I’ve found easy-to-grow from seed. I usually start them outside in a special bed and then transplant the seedlings where I want them.
* cosmos
* sunflowers (a great variety now available in all heights and colors)
* gomphrena (southern batchelors buttons)

Flowering annual vines provide a lot of color and are easy to grow because they usually have large seeds.
* dolichos lablab
* luffa
* morning glory
* black-eyed Susan vine
* cypress vine

I sometimes find it more economical to simply buy the 6-pack flowers from Home Depot.
* marigolds
* pentas
* coleus

Bulbs for summer that can be planted now.
* canna
* caladium
* asiatic lily
* zephyranthes (rain lily)
* crocosmia

by M Sinclair Stevens

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