July In the Garden
Thanks to our friends at GardenHelper.com, here are a few gardening tasks and projects that you can do to help keep your garden looking it’s best for the rest of this season as well as what you can do to make sure your garden comes back in full force next spring. We have been utilizing the “expertise” of these “experts” off and on for several years.
The amount of water that your garden will need is going to depend on the weather conditions in your area. The primary rule of summer watering is to water thoroughly and deeply each time and to allow the soil dry out between waterings. Deep watering will allow the plant’s roots to grow deeper, where they are less likely to dry out, as well as the added benefit of anchoring the plant into the ground better. Light, surface watering actually wastes water, because the water never actually reaches the root zone of the plant, and the moisture rapidly evaporates from the top inch of soil.
The best way to tell if your plants are receiving enough water is to take a trowel or shovel and dig down a few inches. The soil should be moist at least 3 or 4 inches deep to insure that the water is reaching the root zone of the plants. Of course, if you planted drought resistant plants in your garden, you won’t have to water as often, but the principal of deep watering still applies.
As the weather dries out, your container plants may need daily watering, especially if the pots are exposed to the drying sunlight. Push your finger into the soil in your container plantings at least once a day (more often on hot, dry days) to feel for moisture and be certain that plants are getting enough water. Apply water until it runs out the drainage holes.
Try to do your watering during the morning hours so that the leaves can dry off a bit before the hot sun hits them. Evening watering is sometimes acceptable if the temperatures are warm enough to insure that foliage dries before the temperature drops at night. (Wet foliage makes plants more susceptible to fungus and disease.)
Perennials, annuals, and bulbs
Continue to dead-head (remove dead flowers) your annuals to encourage continued blooming. If your annuals have died off, pull them out and add them to the compost pile. Replant that spot with hardy annuals or perennials, such as Pansies, Calendulas, or Armeria.
Get a second bloom from faded annuals by cutting them back by one half their height, then fertilize them with a liquid 5-10-10 fertilizer. Roses will need to be fertilized each month through the summer. In colder areas, allow shrub roses to ripen by discontinuing feeding them at the end of the month.
Fertilize container gardens regularly with a liquid all-purpose plant food.
Chrysanthemums should be lightly fertilized every two weeks. Discontinue pinching your mums in mid-month so they will be able to develop flower buds for the fall. To promote ‘trophy size’ flowers, allow only one or two main shoots to develop. Remove all side buds as they begin to develop.
To produce the largest Dahlia flowers (especially ‘Dinner plate’ Dahlias), the main stems should be kept free of side shoots, allowing only the main terminal bud to develop. Be sure to provide adequate support to prevent wind damage.
Bearded Iris may be divided and replanted when they have finished blooming. Discard all shriveled and diseased parts.
Sweet peas may tend to fizzle out with the hot summer weather, but with heavy mulching to keep the roots cool and moist you can prolong the flowering season by a few more weeks. A little mid-day shade will also help to maintain the quality of the flowers and prolong the blooming season.
Verbenas, Euonymus, Pachysandra, Ivy, and climbing roses are some of plants that will root fairly quickly by layering them into the warm soil. Fasten a section of the stem containing one or more “eyes” down onto cultivated soil with a horseshoe shaped piece of wire and cover it with additional soil. By summers end, the stem should be rooted sufficiently to sever it from the parent plant and replant into another area of the garden.
Sow seeds of Hollyhocks, English daisies, Foxgloves, Violas, Canterbury bells, and Sweet William into the garden now for next year’s bloom.
Geranium cuttings may be made in late July to start plants for indoor bloom during the winter months, and for setting into the garden next spring. You may need to provide supplemental lighting with fluorescent grow lights for really good winter blooms indoors.
Summer blooming shrubs should be pruned for shape after they have finished flowering. Remove any dead or diseased branches.
Fertilize flowering shrubs like Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azaleas immediately after they have finished flowering with a ‘Rhododendron’ or ‘Evergreen’ type fertilizer.
Dead head the developing seed pods from your Rhododendrons and Azaleas to improve next year’s bloom. Be careful not to damage next year’s buds which may be hidden just below the pod.
Publishers Note: For more tips on keeping your garden healthy in the hot summer months log on to GardenHelpers.com.