July heat and humidity have descended upon our gardens. Hopefully, it goes without saying that you're applying water as needed, especially to all new plants. Mulch should be caressing the root systems of trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, veggies and roses to keep: soil moisture from evaporating, weeds at bay and soil temps from soaring. Nine other tasks to consider to keep your landscape "garden-walk ready":
1) Keep deadheading annuals to stimulate re-bloom. It makes a huge difference. Keep after containers and hanging baskets that are getting overgrown. If some plant is becoming a thug and steamrolling neighbors cut it back artfully into submission. Vines and petunias that are getting "stringy" should be scheduled for a cut. Cut, then new color - yep, plants too.
2) Perennials that have long season re-bloom potential (remember some perennials bloom only once a year) will also enjoy deadheading. However, in some cases deadheading can be more extreme and actually involve removing not only spent flowers, but as much as 1/3 to 1/2 of the stems. This more severe pruning, let's call it "refreshing", might be exercised on past prime: beebalm, balloon flower, catmint, perennial geranium, phlox, salvia and veronica to name a few.
3) Staking or caging is best accomplished early. Get cages on for plants to grow up and into without having to be wrestled (and broken) into submission. Stakes, too, are best placed early with plants guided to their support as they grow. Tomatoes, dahlias, delphinium, mallow and lilies are all candidates.
4) If you want evergreen density (and your plants are receiving at least a half-day of sun), pruning can help. Late spring/early summer is a great time to trim junipers, arborvitae, yews and boxwood. In a perfect world you would remove 50% of this year's new growth, although most people remove more...
5) Annuals and roses are still growing and flowering. Keep fertilizing whether your preferred product is water soluble or granular. In particular, plants in containers are often watered daily, flushing nutrients out of drainage holes. Replacing nutrients will keep plants at peak performance. Plants in lots of shade should be fertilized proportionately less than their counterparts in sun.
6) Tomatoes, America's favorite veggie, needs even moisture and ample calcium to avoid blossom end rot (BER). BER (below picture) is when the fruit bottoms get leathery brown. Also avoid wetting foliage when you water as this can contribute to blight and other fungal pestilence. Whenever possible water early in the morning going into ascending temps that will dry the foliage before nightfall. Wet foliage = blackspot on roses, too.
7) If you mow your own lawn, get the deck up to 3" cutting height.You'll have fewer weeds and the grass will be less drought-stressed (whether you irrigate or not).
8) Scout your garden for: Japanese beetle (below), aphids, apple scab, euonymus scale, blackspot and powdery mildew. Be forewarned that fungicides are preventative, not curative, and are therefore generally best applied before symptoms show. We recommend all control products (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) NOT be applied when air temperatures are above 80 degrees F. Leaves in sun are warmer than air temps and chemical scorch is a real possibility above 80 degrees.
9) Know the enemy and what feeds its appetite. While amusing tales of cunning skunk, possum and raccoon raids abound, they 're far fewer than the mayhem wrought by deer and rabbits. Be prepared with your best repellent and apply before the damage is done. From personal experience, deer particularly love the taste of ready-to-open buds of 'Annabelle' Hydrangea, lilies, roses and daylilies. They also love (at least in my garden) hosta, dogwood family members and swiss chard. Yum!
If all of these summer tasks are already under control or consideration maybe you are ready to host a garden walk. Bravo!
Extremes in summer weather have taken a toll on gardens… and planters, too. I dare anyone to say their formerly beautiful containers look exactly the way they’d like as fall becomes fact. Since we still have lots of time before winter, why not enjoy that time with feast-for-the-eyes gorgeous pots? I asked Earl Lieske, III, Chalet’s Wilmette planter guru, what trends he’s creating for fresh fall container gardening fashions.