Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) are hardy, generally fuss-free plants that produce tart fruits about 1–3 inches around. The zesty fruit can be puréed to make green salsa, known in Mexico as salsa verde. Tomatillos may also be roasted, blanched or sautéed for cooked dishes. The common tomatillo has green fruit, but a purple-fruited variety is also available. Tomatillos have cultivation needs similar to tomatoes. Tomatillos are highly variable but typically grow 2 feet tall with a wider spread. Grow tomatillos in well-drained soil in full sun. Plant at least two to ensure pollination and fruit set. Tomatillos are ready for harvest when the papery husk around the fruit splits.
- Among the woody ornamentals suitable for cut flower arrangements are dogwood, butterfly bush, beautyberry, redbud, lilac, forsythia, magnolia, spirea, viburnum, weigela and camellia. Use a sharp knife or pruner, cutting the base of stem at a 45-degree angle. Make vertical slits a few inches up the stem or peel the bark slightly. This will create a larger surface area for water absorption.
- The best stage for harvesting cut flowers varies by species. When appropriate, cutting flowers at an early stage will thwart damage from chewing insects. Harvest sunflowers, rudbeckia, cosmos, lilac and camellia just as buds are beginning to open. Cut peonies when buds are marshmallow-soft, just as color is peeking through. Harvest zinnias, yarrow, Gomphrena and cockscomb when flowers have fully opened. Harvest hydrangeas and sweet peas at any stage.
- When cutting lilies for the vase, snip off stamens to remove orange pollen. This will prevent staining of tablecloths and other flowers in the arrangement.
- When repotting or transplanting a cactus, protect your hands by wrapping the plant with a collar made of several sheets of newspaper. Remove lower leaves of yuccas to make transplanting easier. Before moving an agave, you can snip sharp points from the tips of leaves without damaging the plant.
- Sweet pepperbush is a native ornamental shrub that thrives in wet soils. It bears spicy-sweet, white flowers on 2- to 6-inch stalks (resembling bottlebrushes) for several weeks in summer. 'Ruby Spice' and 'Pink Spires' have pink blossoms. The upright, oval shrub typically grows 4 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. The compact 'Hummingbird' variety grows 3 feet tall and wide. Fall foliage is yellow. Grow sweet pepperbush in sun to partial shade in moist to wet soil.
- The annual flower Portulaca (moss rose), with its fleshy, succulent foliage and brightly hued flowers, faces heat and drought with grace. Portulaca and the similar-looking hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) perform well on dry, sunny slopes.