Monday, September 24, 2007

The Humidity Factor

On my previous post I had a comment from Pam/Digging, an avid gardener in Austin, Texas, about humidity as a factor in plant selection. How right you are Pam! Folks in our area often crave plants that really need a higher humidity level than we have. Things like Japanese maple, true holly (Ilex), or Rhododendron. Sure, they’re sold at some of the local nurseries usually with the recommendation to plant them in a “protected” location. That’s a euphemism for “needs more humidity than we have here so keep it out of the wind and sun and give it lots of water.” And yes, I’ve seen these plants growing successfully in some gardens---usually those in very well established neighborhoods that have a lot of trees and shrubs to create a cooler, more humid microclimate. But most of us need to focus on the macroclimate and select plants based on those realities first.

Another note on humidity: if you are planning to add any broadleaf evergreens---even the well adapted types--- such as Mahonia, Euonymus, Arctostaphylos, etc to your landscape, you might consider waiting until spring. Our dry, windy winters are really tough on newly planted evergreens. Another option is to plan to treat them with an anti- desiccant, such as Wilt-Proof, and provide regular waterings through the winter.

I took this photo yesterday; I was surprised to see this Datura in bloom, as I hadn’t even noticed that it had sprung up!

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