Want to plant a garden but aren’t trying to rip up your whole yard at once? Try this strategy
People get all twitchy when they hear that a plant’s flowers only last for one day. “All that work, and it’s only going to bloom for me for one single day?” And to that I say, “Calm down a bunch. It’s going to produce dozens of flowers over several weeks, even months.” And sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve decided that people are unusual animals.
Fearing not, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite flowers of all time, and I’m going to tell you going in that each of these plants’ blooms lasts only one day. Yet they’re all great contributors to a North Texas landscape. Trust me, friend. Trust me on this one.
I decided to stare right into the eye of the beast. Yep. Its name gives it away. These flowers open and close within a single 15-hour period. But if you look at one of their flowering stems (called “scapes”), they’ll be loaded down with 25 or 30 buds each. And breeders have brought us daylilies in all colors except true blue and heights ranging from 12 to 60 inches. Flowers may be double (several rows of petals), frilled or spidery, and it’s not unusual to see two-toned blooms with contrasting colors. Many of the newer types even rebloom a second time later in the summer. Well-dressed gardens have to have daylilies.
Most of us just call them “hardy hibiscus.” These are showstoppers. The plants grow to 24 to 48 inches tall, and the flowers are up to 12 inches across in shades of reds, pinks and whites, often with contrasting eyes. The plants die to the ground, but they always come back from their roots the following spring just like clockwork.
When you think of Hawaii or other tropical vacations, this is the flower that pops into your mind. The plants are shrubby with glossy, dark green leaves, and their flowers are single or double in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, lavender and beyond. But this group of hibiscus can’t stand freezing weather, so you’ll either have to use them as annuals or bring them indoors in winter. Either way, they’re spectacular.
Perhaps the most dazzling flowers we can grow, these are trumpet-shaped blooms that are about the size of actual trumpets! They hang straight down and grow to 10 to 14 inches long. The flowers are pink, yellow or white and they’re fragrant. The plants are robust. When given morning sun and great garden soil, they’ll grow to be 7 or 8 feet tall and wide, and they may bear 75 or 100 flowers per day. It’s an amazing sight.
This is the smaller sister to Brugmansia above. It’s a Datura, recognizable by the fact that its pure white flowers are borne upright, not hanging downward. Its blooms open at dusk and are pollinated by night-flying moths that are attracted to its fragrance. Old-time farmers will call this one jimson weed or just “gyp” as in “gypsum weed.” They know that it’s poisonous to its livestock (and people), so there’s a factor of educating children before you plant this beauty.
Moss rose and hybrid purslane
These plants are closely related. They’re also the closest things we have to flameproof plants for the surface of the sun. We grew them for decades (especially moss rose) as we complained that they opened at dawn and closed by early afternoon. Apparently the breeders heard us, because they got busy and started introducing types that would stay open until folks got home from work. They’re all available in mixed and separate colors, and they’re plants you can count on to hold up in the heat.
I guess you had expected me to include these, hadn’t you? They’re some of the most popular of the one-day flowers. Kids think it’s cool that they open as the sun comes up and close by early afternoon. Colors include blue, pink and white. Do remember, however, that morning glories don’t kick into bloom until later in the summer and early fall. Don’t panic. They’ll get there.
These are close cousins to morning glories, except they open as the sun goes down and close by mid-morning. The vines cover themselves with large, white blossoms that are shining beacons in the night. It’s a little used, but lovely flowering annual.
OK. This isn’t a garden flower at all. However, it gets rather large and you might have it outside over the summer and fall. It’s a hanging plant that can also be grown in large terra cotta pots (the extra weigh is needed – the plants get heavy). The stems are flattened and very long, and then come the absolutely unbelievable flowers. They’re 6 to 10 inches long, pure white and extremely complicated in appearance. You really don’t want to miss these, because by the time they fold up in the morning the show will be over.