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Gardening Tips For July

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Gardening in July: This is one of the most productive months in the garden, but there’s still time to plant and plenty to enjoy

Perennials

  • Keep up with deadheading bedding plants, sweet peas and roses. The flowers on dahlias will need to be cut off once they’ve started to fade.
  • Many of the traditional English cottage perennials such as lupins, delphiniums and geraniums are starting to look past their best now so cut them right back down and they’ll resprout. They may not flower again but they’ll look a lot better.
  • delphiniums in a garden
Fruit and vegetables
  • Water and feed everything regularly, especially tomatoes, to avoid problems. Also tie them in to their canes and pinch out the side shoots if necessary.
  • The last sowing of French beans and carrots can be done now. Transplant purple sprouting broccoli and winter leeks to their final position, or buy them as plugs from a garden center or nursery.
  • Keep sowing seeds for salads, a few at a time, as well as autumn crop peas, turnips and spring cabbages.
  • Keep an eye on apples and plums to make sure there are not too many on each stem and thin out if necessary – just three or four is enough.
  • There should still be some strawberries ripening. Check there is enough straw under the plants to keep fruit off the soil. If you’ve been pegging down the strawberry runners, by now they should have formed enough roots to enable you to transplant them, either to pots to keep safe until they can be put in the ground, or straight into a new strawberry bed.
courgettes - nice ripe Zucchinis growing over garden fence

Harvest

  • Strawberries and other soft fruit should be ripe and ready to collect now.
  • Pick and freeze or dry herbs so they can be used later.
  • A lot of the earlier-sown vegetables will be ready in July, for instance peas and broad beans, French and runner beans, globe artichokes, carrots and beetroot.
  • Keep an eye on fruit; cherries, peaches, gooseberries, raspberries and early plums are really starting to ripen.

Watering

  • This is something that’s easy to do, but easy to get wrong, and often the main problem is under watering. If you spray an area of planting for one minute and move on, the water is unlikely to have gone deeper than a few millimeters into the soil, so won’t have penetrated anywhere near the roots.
  • You need to water like a rain cloud. One way to test this is to put a jam jar in among the plants you’re watering and stop when there’s about 2cm of water in the jar. That’s likely to take about 10-20 minutes on each area, which is understandably daunting. It’s one of the reasons why leaky hose systems, which deliver water to the soil via a porous hose and operate at the turn of a tap, are so appealing.
  • It’s a good time to get rid of strongly growing perennial weeds such as ground elder and bindweed. Use a systemic weed killer such as glyphosate that will enter the weed through its leaves and should kill it off.
Planting trends from the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Roses

  • July in rose-growing circles is known as the month for black spot. If you find it, remove the affected leaves and spray the plant with fungicide. The same goes for another fungus, mildew, which can also become a problem in July if the roses are stressed by having too much or too little water. Try to spray the fungicide early in the morning so you don’t affect any bees that might be buzzing around the plant. Finally don’t forget to deadhead the roses to keep them flowering.
Pink rose flowers in a garden

Roses are the epitome of summer but check for pests and diseases in July

Lawn

  • Keep mowing the lawn if it’s not parched and, if it’s looking tired, July is the last opportunity to apply a summer fertilizer. If it’s dry you may need to water your lawn. Use a specialist lawn weed killer if necessary.

Hedges

  • If you have a conifer hedge, especially a leylandii one, keep a close eye on it at this time of year for cypress aphids. It’s difficult to see the aphids themselves so look for brown patches in the hedge and a black sooty mold along the stem. If you find it, the best thing to do is prune out any brown shoots and spray affected areas with pesticide.

Deadheading bedding plants and border perennials is important to keep your displays looking fresh and tidy. Get more flowers in borders, containers and hanging baskets by adding a liquid feed once a week.

IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING…

…Go into borders, lift leaves and have a look around. Often it’s not a good idea to go looking for problems, but in the garden it pays to have a rummage, as the fresh growth of the past months can hide and feed pests, and weeds can grow unseen under it.

The Versatile Mum

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When fall arrives, it’s hard not to regret the passing of all the summer blooms we love so much: pompon dahlias, Shasta daisies, African daisies, little zinnias, asters, coreopsis, and calendulas.

But take heart, for the fall garden offers all these flower shapes from just one plant, the chrysanthemum. Hundreds of hardy cultivars provide an array of colors and bloom shapes, making mums the divas of the autumn garden. The blooms last for weeks, not days, and the sheer number of flowers per plant will convince anyone that this flower really likes to show off. Add the mum’s impressionistic abilities to its longevity, and you have a plant that pulls its weight in the garden.

If you live in a climate with mild winters, try these cold-season flowering plants.

Because of their tight, mounded habit and stunning bloom cover, garden mums are perfect for mass plantings. To get the maximum effect from far away, stick to only one or two colors. Another possibility is to arrange a gradual transition of related colors. Look around your yard to see what colors would best complement the existing landscape.

If you decorate for fall with pumpkins and gourds, choose orange, bronze, yellow, and creamy white mums. If you have a lot of evergreen plants that provide a backdrop of varying shades of green foliage, try bright pinks, lavenders, pure whites, or reds. With such bold colors, a large grouping of mums can excite even the most drab of fall landscapes.

Mums in Containers

Garden mums also make great container plants. They’re just right for popping into a clay pot, lining up in a row in a window box, or placing in the center of a mixed container with trailing foliage plants all around. Many landscape plants can provide a backdrop for groupings of mums. For texture, choose ornamental grasses or the neon purple berries of the beautyberry shrub (Callicarpa). You also can pair mums with smoke tree (Cotinus), variegated sedum, the deciduous dwarf Fothergilla gardenii, or almost any conifer.

To get the most from your mums, choose cultivars according to their bloom times. It also helps to coordinate bloom time with the length of fall in your location. Most garden mums will withstand a light fall frost, but finding the right cultivars will provide the longest possible amount of pleasure.

Annual or Perennial?

Mums aren’t as expensive as many perennials, so if you choose to, you can plant them as annuals without worrying that you’ve spent too much money on something that might not live more than one season. If you’re an impulse buyer, you’ll probably see pots of colorful mums this fall and not be able to resist.

Fall planting lessens the chance of winter survival, however, since roots don’t have time to establish themselves. If you want something more permanent and are willing to provide proper care such as mulching and pinching to encourage compact growth and more blooms, plant mums in the spring and allow them to get established in the garden. This will improve their chances of overwintering and reblooming the next year. Someplants will even produce a few blooms in the spring before being pinched for fall flowers.

Hardy vs. Florist Mums

Florist (or cutting) mums and hardy (or garden) mums come from the same original parent — a golden-yellow daisylike mum from China. Today’s hybrids in both categories are the results of endless crosses between several species from China and Japan. The result of such hybridization performed over hundreds of years is different types of mums that perform for two distinct purposes.

Florist mums are large-flower plants with many possible bloom forms, from quilled to pompon to spider and more. Grown in greenhouses and used only as indoor plants, florist mums produce few, if any, underground stolens, which are necessary if the mum is to survive cold weather. Florist mums planted outside are most likely being used as short-term bedding plants that will be removed when the blooms are spent. You can plant a potted florist mum you receive as a gift, and it may grow for the summer, but it will not survive the winter, no matter how much protection you give it. Garden mums, on the other hand, produce underground stolens and can survive cold better. Most garden mums are perennials in Zones 5 to 9 and much tougher than florist types. Some cultivars are less hardy than others and can be killed by an early spring frost.

Whether you’re looking for a quick splash of color or a fixture for your border, mums are the pick for a fabulous fall.

Growing Mums

When it comes time to plant mums, consider these factors:

Location. Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Plants that don’t get enough sunlight will be tall and leggy and produce fewer, smaller flowers.

Soil preparation. Mums thrive in well-drained soil. Heavy clay soil should be amended. If your yard is soggy after the slightest rain, grow mums in raised beds with friable soil for good root growth.

If the soil is too dense, add compost and prepare to a depth of 8-12 inches for best performance. Mums’ roots are shallow, and they don’t like competition. Plant mums about 1 inch deeper than they were in the nursery pot, being careful with the roots as you spread them.

Trim off the previous year’s stems as soon as the new spring growth begins to show.

Watering. Water newly planted mums thoroughly, and never let them wilt. After they are established, give mums about an inch of water per week. When bottom leaves look limp or start to turn brown, water more often. Avoid soaking the foliage, which encourages disease.

Fertilizer. Plants set out in spring should get a 5-10-10 fertilizer once or twice a month until cooler weather sets in. Don’t fertilize plants set out in fall as annuals, but plants you hope to overwinter should get high-phosphorus fertilizer to stimulate root growth.

Overwintering. Prepare mums for winter after the first hard frost. Mulch up to 4 inches with straw or shredded hardwood. Fill in around the entireplant, spreading well between branches. Pinch off dead blooms to clean up the plant, but leave branches intact. Mums have a better chance of surviving if you wait to prune old stems until spring. As soon as the weather warms, pull away mulch to allow new shoots to pop up.

Dividing. Mums grown as perennials need to be divided every couple of years. Divide in the spring after the last hard frost and after you see new growth starting. Dig up the plant in one piece and separate outer pieces from the center with a clean sharp spade or large knife. Replant the outer portions into a rejuvenated bed, and discard the original center of the plant.

Pests. You may notice aphids, leafhoppers, or spider mites, but they are not likely to harm the plant.

Pinching Mums for Better Bloom

The key to those full, rounded domes of blooms that you associate with mums is pinching to create more branching and keep plants compact. Don’t hold back — just a few minutes here and there will reward you with a thick, solid-looking plant.

If you’ve bought large, full plants in the fall, they have already been pinched and are ready for planting. Young spring plants will need pinching for maximum bloom and best plant shape.

Start pinching as soon as you see a good flush of buds. Pinch about half of the tender new growth at the top of the shoot; choose some stems with buds and some without. Repeat the process with every 3 to 5 inches of growth (about every two to four weeks) until July 4. Stopping then ensures you will get good bud formation and blooms in fall.

Varieties to Look For

‘Blizzard’ This extra-late variety offers the largest (2-1/2-inch) and whitest flower available in a daisy garden mum. It develops into an almost ball-shaped plant covered with bright white blooms over extra-dark green foliage.

‘Bold Felicia’ The early blooms are an unbelievable neon-hot pink daisy with a bright yellow center disk.

‘Carrie’ A hard-to-find two-tone decorative flower that is a dark red-bronze in the center with golden-yellow outer petals. This extra-late cultivar shows none of the discoloration of aging petals seen in some older varieties.

‘Melissa’ This extra-late mum blooms through late October and was bred for excellent flower form, flower color, color retention, and growth habit. The bright lavender-rose flowers combine beautifully with ‘Erica’, ‘Ingrid’, and ‘Taffy’.

‘Vicki’ Another bright “wow” of a plant, these decorative blooms are rich orange with a darker orange center. They have awesome color and a full spreading plant habit.

‘Zesty Jean’ An unusual pastel peach-coral color, the early decorative flowers are more fully petaled and retain their color longer than others of this hue.

Flower Shapes

Mums come in an array of bloom forms. The most common bloom shapes are:

Decorative
Long, tightly overlapping petals. They can be either incurve (where petals curve up and in toward the flower center) or reflex (where petals curve out and down, away from the flower center).

Pompon
Small, globe-shape flowers that are petal-packed

Single or Daisy
One row of long petals around a flat center disk.

Types of Mums

Anemone
One or more rows of single flat petals topped with a raised center of tiny disk florets. The florets are usually a darker color.

Semidouble
Two or three rows of long petals around the center disk.

Single Quilled
The single daisy type, but with tubular petals. This is different from the full quill flower form, which is almost always seen only in florist mums.

Photo and Article Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Biennial Plants

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Biennial Plant Information: What Does Biennial Meanperennial-garden

One way to categorize plants is by the length of the plant’s life cycle. The three terms annual, biennial and perennial are most commonly used to classify plants due to their life cycle and bloom time. Annual and perennial is fairly self explanatory, but what does biennial mean? Read on to find out.

What Does Biennial Mean?

So what are biennial plants? The term biennial is in reference to the plant’s longevity. Annual plants live just one growing season, performing their entire life cycle, from seed to flower, in this short period of time. Only the dormant seed is left to cross over into the next growing season.

Perennial plants live three years or more. Usually, the top foliage dies back to the ground each winter and then regrows the successive spring from the existing root system.

Basically, biennials in the garden are flowering plants that have a two-year biological cycle. Biennial plant growth begins with seeds that produce the root structure, stems and leaves (as well as food storage organs) during the first growing season. A short stem and low basal rosette of leaves form and remains through the winter months.

During the biennial’s second season, biennial plant growth completes with the formation of flowers, fruit and seeds. The stem of the biennial will elongate or “bolt.” Following this second season, many biennials reseed and then the plant usually dies.

Biennial Plant Information

Some biennials require vernalization or cold treatment before they will bloom. Flowering may also be brought about by the application of gibberellins plant hormones, but is rarely done in commercial settings.

When vernalization occurs, a biennial plant may complete its entire life cycle, from germination to seed production, in one short growing season; three or four months instead of two years. This most commonly affects some vegetable or flower seedlings that were exposed to cold temperatures before they were planted in the garden.

Other than cold temperatures, extremes such as drought can shorten the biennial’s life cycle and compress two seasons into a year. Some regions may then, typically, treat biennials as annuals. What may be grown as a biennial in Portland, Oregon, for example, with a fairly temperate climate, would likely be treated as an annual in Portland, Maine, which has far more severe temperature extremes.

Biennials in the Garden

There are many fewer biennials than perennial or annual plants, with most of them being types of vegetables. Keep in mind that those biennials, whose purpose is for flowers, fruits or seeds, need to be grown for two years. Climatic conditions in your area which are unseasonably cold, with lengthy periods of frost or cold snaps, affect whether the plant will be a biennial or an annual, or even if a perennial appears to be a biennial.

Examples of biennials include:

NURTURING SPRING BULBS

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Spring bulbs faithfully reappear at the most advantageous time – after a long, cold winter. Most spring bulbs are perennial and multiply in number every year. Seemingly carefree, bulbs do require a bit of nurturing ensuring that they perform their very best for years to come.

  1. Good soil drainage is important to prevent bulbs from rotting so plan your site accordingly.bulbs-4
  2. When planting bulbs in the fall, add a high phosphorus fertilizer to the planting hole for the development strong roots.
  3. Bulb foliage will often break through the soil after a few warm winter days. This vegetation is hardy and its exposure to the cold will not damage your plants or prevent them from blooming.
  4. Fertilize bulbs as plants are emerging from the ground. Do not fertilize once flowers appear. Use a 5-10-5 granular fertilizer to assist in foliage and flower development.
  5. After blooming, cut back the flower stalk. This will force the plant to put its energy into the bulb for next year’s flowers and not into seed production.
  6. Allow the leaves to die back naturally. The leaves are vital for producing food that is stored in the bulb for next year’s growth. Cut leaves; never pull, once they have turned yellow. Do not tie leaves as this reduces the leaf surface required for adequate food production.
  7. When the foliage dies back the bulb is dormant, this is the proper time to dig and separate bulbs if necessary. Flowering will often be reduced when bulb beds become over-crowded. If division is needed, bulbs should be dug and stored in a well-ventilated place and replanted in the fall.
  8. Fertilize bulbs again in the fall with a high-phosphorus, granular fertilizer.

 

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