MUSCATINE, Iowa — Pretty foliage plants. Space-saving vegetables.


That’s what you’ll see Tuesday, Aug. 7, during the free open house at the Iowa State University Home Demonstration Garden south of here.

The purpose of the demonstration sites is to give home gardeners ideas on what to plant and to let them see firsthand how different varieties perform.

The Muscatine site is always irrigated because it has sandy soil, but even with irrigation, this year’s plantings are stressed because of the heat, said Cindy Haynes, an associate professor of horticulture at the Ames campus who will assist during Tuesday’s event.

Still, site superintendent Vince Lawson has been amazed that some plants have thrived.

“Many of the ornamental foliage plants look outstanding, and several vegetables, including peppers, tomatoes, vine crops and basil, are productive,” he said. “And it is a good year to observe which flowers can take the heat!”

About a quarter of the garden was planted in sweet corn so that people could have samples to taste and compare, but “the sweet corn grew quickly (and), unfortunately, was ready about two weeks (ago),” Lawson said. “Because of the heat, the corn is finished for the year.”

Among the foliage plants that have proven surprisingly drought- and heat-tolerant is a purple hibiscus called “Mahogany Splendor,” which is grown for its foliage, not its flower, Haynes said.

Other favorites: A purple basil and a gold millet called “Jade Princess.”

As for the space-saving vegetables, 21 different varieties were planted, including “Elite” zucchini, and “Honey Bun” and “Minnesota Midget” muskmelons, each of which uses less than half the garden space of regular-size varieties.

“Mega Bite” tomato is supposed to produce medium-size fruit on compact plants. “We shall see!” Haynes said.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.