The Rose Of Sharon Adds Late Summer Color
You've seen this shrub around town blooming its little head off with hibiscus-like flowers. The Rose of Sharon isn't a rose at all, but it is a reliable bloomer and adds great late summer color. This flower with the botanical name hibiscus syriacus is in the mallow family. It grows into a 6- to 8-foot shrub that will produce flowers well into fall. Look for varieties with white, pink or even blue blossoms and single- or double-blue flowers like Blue Satin or Sugar Tip.
Rose of Sharon also grows quite large, so plant it in an area where it won't overpower other smaller shrubs. This plant could sidle up nicely with lilacs, forsythias and ninebarks.
Think about how much sun it will get in its location, too, as Rose of Sharon can grow in partial shade but prefers full sun. The single-flower varieties are heartiest to Zone Four and you can expect to enjoy flowers each year.
The shrub will drop seeds in the fall, which will then sprout into seedlings come spring. Thin them out then if you want, and spring is also the time to prune back the shrub to keep it in check and to ensure more beautiful flowers. Birds, bees, hummingbirds and humans love it!
Q: Any reason why my eggplants will not make flowers this year? They are not falling off; they are just not happening. Could there be a soil imbalance? I've been growing eggplant in well-composted soil for years and have never had this happen before. — Anne Marie, in Pawlet
Two different things might be happening. One issue could be that you've got too much nitrogren in the soil, which can causes big leafy plants but no fruits. This conditions rights itself as the growing season progresses.
The other possiblity could be the hot weather, as eggplants do not like those conditions. So with cooler weather and less soil nitrogren, you might start to see some veggies! Next year, perhaps plant smaller, faster-maturing varieties. You'll want to find ones that can flower and fruit in time in our climate, like ping tung long or Hansel and Gretel.
Q: I have had a problem as the season progresses with my summer squash and zucchini, and to a lesser extent my cucumbers. There are spots on the mature fruit that are unsightly, and the start of spoilage, plus fruits rotting on the vine shortly after they set. Is this squash bugs or something else, and what can I do to address it? — Harriet, in Hartland
This actually sounds more like a foliar, stem and fruit disease that can affect cucurbit squash varieties, like cucumber, squash and melon. Some methods to combat disease are to rotate crops year to year, plant in raised beds (as that will help with soil water drainage), space the plants out and also purchase new, fresh seed, because some issues are seed-borne.
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