Gardening ideas from Evelyn: A blooming star for the summer heat and year-round

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Looking for that perfect summer plant? It doesn’t mind the heat, takes the sun and is happy in a pot around the pool or patio. Oh yes, and you want it to bloom all year. It’s really difficult to find that perfect plant. Succulents work, but none of those bloom very long. Lots of plants bloom beautifully in spring and summer, but have no blooms in winter. So what is this perfect bloomer?

Meet the star of the Mandevilla family, the Dipladenia or Mandevilla Splendens.

There are lots of wonderful Mandevillas. All of them have big lovely flowers, usually in pinks, reds and whites. All of them love the summer heat, but only one blooms all year long — the tough and sturdy Dipladenia. This special Mandevilla came centuries ago from the mountains above Rio de Janeiro — allegedly never to be seen there again. It was finally placed in the Mandevilla family, but it really is different. The plant has shiny, small, leathery leaves and flowers of white, pink or rosy red. Best of all, it really needs to be in a pot. All the Mandevillas seem to do better in containers, rather than planted in the ground.

Here are the guidelines to assure you of all-year bloom

Tip No. 1

Keep it in a container.

Tip No. 2

Give it at least a half a day of sun. All day is fine.

Tip No. 3

Fertilize it all year.

Tip No. 4

Water it, and watch it bloom all year. However, don’t put it under the eves where the winter rain will drain on it. All the Mandevillas are sensitive to too much water in the winter. Like your elderly aunt who complains of cold feet, the plant doesn’t like cold wet roots. That can kill your plant.

Tip No. 5

There has to be something wrong! Yes, there is. The aphids, in clusters of hungry little monsters, love it in the spring. Blast them off with a strong spray of water, and as soon as summer comes, they are gone.

There is the newer competition of Mandevilla Crimson Parasoi, which has flashier, really red flowers and grows faster, but it won’t bloom all year long. On your patio or balcony, by the pool or your front door, Dipladenia is the one plant that can’t be beat. Happy from the oceanfront to the inland hot spot, Dipladenia Scarlet Pimpernel, White Fair Lady or Red Ridinghood will be sure to please, and with the right care, your plant will continue to bloom for years.

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