The end of June is time for some housekeeping in the garden.
Deadhead roses, perennials and annuals that have bloomed and you will be encouraging another round of flowers. Edge and mow the lawn, but set the mower height between 2-3 inches. A higher cut lawn will shade out weeds in the summer and help conserve moisture. Weed often or your mature weeds will spread seeds all over the summer garden. Also, pinch out the extra green leaves growing in the crotch of your tomato plants. Some tomatoes produce so much foliage that it shades the flowers and fruit. Removing the extra growth also allows for better air circulation.
Q. I read your column about deer eating roses and I was surprised you did not mention the ultimate solution – just replace your common roses with one of the amazing varieties of excellent “Rosa Rugosa” varieties. I grow a number of Rugosa roses in my front yard and the deer leave them alone.
A. Thanks for the tip. The Rugosa roses are also tolerant of salt spray, severe wind, dry soil and resistant to insects and disease. In the fall they produce bright red rose hips for winter color. Some have long bloom times but most flower just once in early summer. They are very thorny and very large plants however. Rugosa roses are suitable for a hedge in a large garden, but they can be difficult to prune or keep under control. I am so glad the deer ignore your Rugosa roses – deer eat different plants depending on where they live and some gardeners report deer nibbling on their Rugosa roses but still leaving enough of this vigorous plant for the gardener to enjoy.
Q. My hanging petunia basket only has blooms on the tips. We may have allowed it to dry out while on vacation. Anything we can do to make it look nice again?
A. Time to get snippy with your petulant petunia and prune back the long branches by one-half to one-third its length. Then fertilize it with a liquid plant food such as Miracle Grow or Peter’s Professional plant food and keep the soil moist. Try not to use cold water on your petunia baskets. One way to do this is to fill a watering can or plastic gallon jug of water and a pinch of fertilizer every time you water. Then the waiting water in the jug will warm up to a tepid temperature overnight and not shock your heat loving petunias. Just like us humans, many plants do not enjoy the shock of very cold water on a hot day. Keep the foliage of your petunias dry when you water as well. In a few weeks the new growth will cover all your pruning scars and you’ll get a second chance to keep your petunia basket in bloom until frost.
Q. I want to grow Lady’s Mantle as a border plant in my perennial garden. Will it reseed all over and will I be sorry?
A. Not if you dead head like a rock star. The Lady’s Mantle can be a bit of a tramp if you allow it to go to seed. As soon as the frothy yellow blooms appear, start clipping them to use in a vase or give away bouquets of the delicate blooms as they begin to fade. If you don’t allow the flowers to turn brown and form seeds you won’t have them popping up all over. I use Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) as a summer perennial in the front of ferns and rhododendrons and the blooms spill over a brick pathway. I do find tiny plants seeding between the bricks despite my efforts to clip the faded flowers but these volunteers dry up by August and seem a small price to pay for a such a tough perennial with such beautiful rounded leaves and lovely flowers. I vote you just grow for it.