Deadheading — clipping off the old flower tops — or pruning foliage down to where a new flower bud is emerging will extend their growth for a month or two. Zinnias, for instance, produce lots of continuous blooms if cut down to their new bud growth.
Gardeners can also still plant for late-summer color while waiting for the fall and winter selections to appear at the nursery.
This area will still have some extremely hot late-summer days, so there’s no reason to be afraid to plant more annuals, such as vincas, marigolds, salvias, zinnias, ageratum and begonias, which nurseries are still carrying.
The new fall selections are starting to arrive, too, but beware: Snapdragons and pansies need much cooler weather before we start to plant them in this area.
There are some really rich, fragrant plants that you might want to consider for your fall planting. These plants will enhance your garden and draw you and any other visitors to their scent.
Gardenias have many varieties that make the nose happy and please the eye. Gardenia jasminoides “Mystery,” for example, is a midsummer-through-early fall bloomer. It can reach 6 to 8 feet tall, but pruning will keep it neat and tidy.
Another excellent gardenia is a variety called “Veitchii,” sometimes sold as “everblooming.” It will grow to 3 to 4 feet high and considerably wider. This is a reliable bloomer and may continue blooming during a warm winter.
All gardenias need a rich, acidic soil, which can be achieved by adding appropriate soil amendments. They need partial shade, too, with preferably no sun in the late afternoon.
My absolute favorite fragrant plant is a flowering shrub called Heliotrope. The bloom is gorgeous, and the scent is so sweet. It is a summer bloomer but will bear beautiful, fragrant purple flowers into fall. Heliotrope should be planted in late-afternoon shade.
Happy gardening, as always.
• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.