by Steven Feingold
If you’ve found yourself walking around our beautiful neighborhood admiring the flowers and wondering what you’re looking at, we’re here to help. Welcome to "Petworth Blooming,” a popular series featuring some of the most common plants and flowers seen around Petworth. I’ll do my best to avoid repeats from last year!
The onion family is good for more than just eating. Allium is the name for any generic onion, but usually you’ll hear it when discussing the more ornamental species. All onions have grass like leaves and flowers arranged into balls. Bloom times range from spring into summer, mostly white or lavender flowers, sometimes yellow.
Unlike it’s creeping cousin, Garden Phlox stands tall and upright. A classic garden flower, there are lots of varieties and colors to choose from. They require fairly consistent soil moisture and good air movement to avoid mildew problems.
Zinnias are an easy to grow annual that love hot, dry weather. They will reseed themselves if the flowerheads are left on the plant. Lots of bright pinks, yellows, oranges and reds are available, and many different plants heights too. Some species stay under 1 foot, while others can get to at least 4 feet. If you have a sunny spot, these are practically fool proof.
Begonias are one of the largest groups of flowering plants with over 1800 species throughout the world’s tropics. Here in the temperate latitudes, they can be grown as summer annuals, or as house plants. They generally like shaded, moist spots and many have fascinating leaf colors and patterns.
Petunias originally come from South America, and are related to tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco. They come in pretty much any color, and some have multiple colors in a single flower. These are annual plants that tolerate lots of hot sun and will bloom all summer long.
Featured on many a Hawai’ian shirt, Hibiscus is the quintessential tropical flower. With it’s alien-like pollen and stigma tube, and giant colorful petals, it’s a real crowd pleaser. Hibiscus are part of the mallow family, related to cotton, okra and rose-of-sharon.
Another member of the mallow family are the Hollyhocks. These have slightly smaller flowers than the hibiscus, but they have the same crazy looking pollen tubes. These can be grown from seed and will reseed themselves if the pods are allowed to develop.
The darling of many British gardening shows, Dahlias are a group of very showy flowers that can be easily grown from bulbs (planted in the spring). There are tons of colors available, with lots of different petal densities. They make good cut flowers for indoor display.
Another spring planted bulb, Gladiolus produce tall spikes of tropical looking flowers and sword like foliage. Also good plant to grow for cut flowers, otherwise be prepared to stake up the flower spikes. Lots of vibrant colors available.
Black-Eyed Susans are a group of about 5 different species and their hybrids. Most are perennials, but one is an annual/biennial (and also the State flower of Maryland). Most will slowly spread to form large clumps, and also readily grow from seed.
So what's blooming in August? We’ll talk about that… next month!