“How can I grow basil in South Florida? Every time I try the sun either burns it or I get it in too much shade.” Question from Deborah of Moore Haven, Florida
Answer: If you find that traditional Italian large-leaf basil (Ocimum basilicum) burns and blooms quickly in your Florida heat, there are other basils available that are better adapted to high heat. Here are my top four selections.
Basils Tolerant of High Heat
African Blue Basil (Ocimum ‘African Blue’): Expect a slightly stronger flavor from this darker-leaved, heavy-flowering basil. It’s beautiful, bees love it, it tolerates heat, and tastes good.
Pesto Perpetuo Basil (Ocimum × africanum ‘Pesto Perpetuo’): Here’s another beautiful, flavorful basil that will never disappoint. It has pretty variegated leaves that taste great, and the heat-tolerant plant grows upright and never flowers. It looks good in a flower bed or herb garden.
Lemon Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Mrs. Burns’ Lemon’): The lemony basil leaves taste so good in salads, and the plants take heat.
Siam Queen Thai Basil (Ocimum ‘Siam Queen’): The award-winning ‘Siam Queen’ has delicious, licorice-flavored leaves that complement East Asian dishes. The plants are low-growing and beautiful.
I encourage you to watch the video below for more basil-growing tips.
“We moved to Jasper, TX from Jefferson City, MO and I am having trouble getting my favorite bulbs, daffodils, to grow. What suggestions might you have?” Question from Betsy of Jasper, Texas
Answer: You moved from a USDA Hardiness Zone 6 location to a USDA Hardiness Zone 8 location. Many daffodils will not grow well in Zone 8 because they need chillier winters to complete their flowering cycle. Thankfully, there are some that will grow very well in your region. Choose from this list of varieties, and you should have daffodil success! Many of these are Tazetta-type Narcissus.
Daffodil ‘Avalanche’: This fragrant daffodil produces clusters of ivory flowers with small yellow cups and blooms from early to mid spring.
Daffodil ‘Carlton’: Prolific golden yellow flowers are produced by this daffodil in early spring
Daffodil ‘Erlicheer’: This unique variety produces fully double flowers of ivory and palest yellow in early to mid spring.
Daffodil ‘Falconette’: This early spring bloomer bears fantastic clusters of yellow blooms with dark-orange coronas.
“I’m looking for a low-maintenance shrub rose that produces highly scented flowers that will thrive in Las Vegas, NV.” Question from Katherine of Las Vegas, Nevada
Answer: There are several fragrant shrub roses that can withstand high heat in your dry USDA Hardiness Zone 8-9 location. But, there are no classic, cultivated shrub roses that can withstand extended drought. There are, however, some native shrub roses that may fit the bill. I will give you a selection of heat-tolerant cultivated shrub roses, and a native, all with good fragrance. These roses will require watering in Las Vegas, but they are otherwise carefree. Rose fungal diseases are not problematic in dry climates.
Heat-Tolerant Shrub Roses
A classic floribunda shrub rose with good heat tolerance is ‘Angel Face’. It was bred in 1969, has deep lavender-pink flowers that are fully double, a citrus fragrance, and its leaves are a lustrous green.
‘Graham Thomas’ is another heat-tolerant shrub rose bred in 1983 that has golden blossoms with a strong sweet-tea fragrance. Another similar shrub rose is ‘Molineux’; its yellow, double flowers have a musky tea-rose scent.
The rugosa rose ‘Hansa’ is highly fragrant with an intense clove scent and well-adapted to sharply drained soils and heat. Its double flowers are a pretty purplish red. The white-flowered rugosa rose ‘Alba’ is also very pretty and fragrant. Both of these roses have spectacular, large, edible hips in fall, which are also very pretty. (Click here to read more about Rosa rugosa).
Southwest Native Shrub Rose
The semi-double California wild rose (Rosa californica ‘Plena’) is a spring-blooming shrub rose with pretty pink flowers. It can tolerate dry conditions better, and its flowers are lightly fragrant.
When planting roses in poor, dry soil, I recommend amending it with fertile amendments, such as Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and Peat Moss. Both products are OMRI Listed for organic gardening. Alfalfa meal is a natural fertilizer that also helps roses grow to their fullest.