July Garden Tips

Tips & Tricks for Your Garden in July

The secret to a long summer flower show is deadheading — removing dead blooms on annuals, perennials, and roses. Snipping dead blossoms encourages the plant to form more flower buds.  Cut mums to 6” high in the first week of July.

If annuals, like petunias, in your flower garden look scraggly and tired, cut them back by one-third. New growth will emerge in a few weeks.

Early-summer perennials, such as daisy, campanula, and delphinium, may form more flower buds if you cut plants back after bloom. Cut back to the main body of the plant.

Many late-summer and fall bloomers tend to grow tall and fall over. Flop-prone perennials include aster, goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, and Russian sage. To prevent this, cut plants back by one-third by the first week of July.

 

Container Garden Tip: Check container gardens daily; water when soil is dry. Give plants a water soluble bloom booster fertilizer every 10-14 days to increase the number of flowers you see.

Summer Watering

Taking simple steps will make the most of the time you spend watering planting beds and containers — conserving water and saving you money.

–Some water waste occurs through evaporation. Eliminate that waste by applying water directly to soil with soaker hoses or a drip tube irrigation system.

–Irrigation timers make watering a hands-free operation. Choose a timer with a rain gauge, and your timer will automatically calibrate irrigation based on local rainfall.

–If you love the latest technology, look into wireless timers that connect to local weather observation stations. The timer adjusts irrigation frequency based on local weather data, including temperature, evaporation rates, and rainfall.

–Repair and replace leaky hoses.

–Take time to watch your automatic sprinkler system. Adjust sprinkler heads so that water lands on planting areas — not pavement. Collect and measure sprinkler water – lawns need about 1” per week.

–Collect runoff from a home, garage, or shed roof by installing a rain barrel. Buy a barrel with a cover to keep children and wildlife out. Consider elevating the barrel to enhance gravity flow of water.

–Water in the cool of the day. The best time is morning but, if you water in the afternoon, allow enough time for foliage to dry out before sunset. This reduces the risk of mildew and other fungi attacking leaves, and there’s less chance you’ll get caught by the evening shift of mosquitoes. Mildew frequently attacks roses, pumpkin, melon, zucchini and cucumber. Spray with liquid copper. Repeat after heavy rain or irrigation. This remedy won’t reverse mildew damage, but it’s an effective preventative.

–If you can only water occasionally, try to water plants deeply and use that opportunity to simultaneously feed and correct mineral deficiencies. Apply a soluble fertilizer such as Stutzmans All-Purpose.

Take care of budding plants

Does your tropical hibiscus drop its buds and flowers? As hibiscus initiate budding in summertime, sudden loss of buds and flowers is often a consequence of the plants drying out, particularly when they are growing in containers. Mulch and water deeply during hot, dry weather to limit this common and irritating problem.

Help pots to stay cool

Potted plants, especially those in terracotta pots, are vulnerable to overheating. Lightly mulch and, where possible, position them out of hot western sunshine. Remember that standing potted plants in saucers of water encourages root rot and mosquito breeding. Instead, stand them in saucers filled with sand, and keep the sand moist. This ensures roots stay cool and plants remain healthy. If potted plants dry out to the point where re-wetting is hard, soak them in a bucket of water for half an hour, then drain.

Keep the lawn long and lush

Brown, bare, weed-infested lawns are symptoms of scalping, which means cutting lawns too low. It’s a misconception that cutting lawns low reduces the cutting frequency. Instead, mow lawns as high as your mower permits. Longer turf wears better, but most important of all, a thick lawn suppresses weeds such as oxalis and spurge. Fresh lawn clippings are great for activating compost heaps and mulching shrubberies, but only when applied in a thin layer, up to 1” deep, as thicker layers can burn leaves and encourage collar rot on trees and shrubs. Now is the time to fertilize Bermuda, zoysia, and buffalo. Cool season grass generally shouldn’t be fertilized until fall.

Keep the water flowing

Check that hoses and irrigation systems are free of leaks, and unblock the nozzles. Clear debris from gutters so that every shower funnels extra water into your rainwater tank. Do you need another, bigger rainwater tank? Use mosquito mesh to stop mosquitoes and frogs from entering tanks and pipes.

Do hard work when it’s cool

It’s safer, and you’re more likely to do a better job, if you complete energetic work such as mowing in the cool of the day – either before 10am or after 4pm. A good drink of water and a smear of sunblock are prerequisites, because that one five-minute job often leads to another, and another. Sunblock takes 15 minutes to create its protective layer, so use that time to plan your day in the garden. Don’t forget your hat (or umbrella) and sunglasses too, and if you do get burned, nothing beats the cooling, healing effect of fresh, home-grown juice of aloe vera. In my garden, mosquito repellent is also essential. Save some light tasks, such as weeding or propagating, to complete in the comfort of a shady spot.

 

Weed once a week

Now is the time when tiny weed seedlings become huge monsters almost overnight. Pull them by hand or hoe them before they use the nutrients in the soil intended for your vegetables, annuals and perennials.

Feed the Roses

Any other heavy feeders should be fed now too. Continue to feed them once per month until September. Most heavy feeders use a great quantity of soil nutrients to produce those big bold blooms we all love. Keep them producing regularly with regular applications of fertilizer. Some compost isn’t a bad idea either.

Dead head remaining spring bulbs that have faded

Clip off any seed pods that may have formed on your daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths, etc. This will encourage growth underground for next year’s blooms. Leave the foliage and let it die back naturally. This lets the plant feed itself and the parent bulb for next spring as well. Plant spreading annuals such as lively petunias next to it to camouflage it.

Remove spent blooms from annuals and perennials

Pinch or clip off any dead or faded blooms once a week. This encourages re-blooming and keeps the garden looking fresh and tidy.

Harvest fruits and vegetables regularly

Zucchini and summer squash may need to be harvested every day. Cucumbers and tomatoes need to be watched carefully and mature fruit removed promptly so the vines are not damaged by the weight. Corn should be harvested when the silk at the ends of the ears is just starting to brown.

Don’t forget hanging baskets!

Water them every day taking care to pinch off any spent blooms or dead foliage. Feed with liquid fertilizer once per week. Hanging baskets and container plantings need extra care in the heat. They can dry out very quickly, especially around the edges where evaporation occurs first due to the shallower soil.

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