I heard some neighborhood children talking about school books and school uniforms and thought, "where has the summer gone"? Really. When the school bells ring, the summer is technically over and so early. And what do our flower beds tell us about their state of affairs? Most are mature with tall zinnias, cleome, phlox, cosmos and salvias in large drifts, just begging to be cut for flower arrangements. If there have been any deaths, all we need to do is re-sow the zinnia, cosmos and cleome; fill in with new annuals such as begonias, ageratum, and petunias. You may also want to leave a few areas for chrysanthemums which should be coming onto the market the end of this month. It goes without saying that the new plants need extra water and fertilizer. Because of the heat, I would apply a timed released fertilizer or use a liquid fertilizer. It would be very easy to burn the roots if the fertilizer is a commercial grade or is not watered in really well.
One of the tasks that needs to be completed this month is trimming or pruning hydrangeas which have just finished blooming. If the shrub had gotten over sized, prune back by no more than one third. Any dead stalks or diseased plant materials should be removed from the site in order to keep the plants healthy. Pruning can rejuvenate the garden by helping straggly and leggy plants with a new burst of growth. Flowers such as geraniums, petunias, impatiens, begonias, marigolds, blue salvia, coleus, and most summer annuals and perennials need this summer hair cut. The benefits will be seen within a couple of weeks with new growth, and more blooms. All these plants should receive a good dose of fertilizer as set out in the first paragraph and they will march onto the Fall stage with vim and vigor.
All gardens can benefit from a regular spraying program. Aphids on canna lilies and crape myrtles are easily controlled with insecticidal soap which can be bought through nurseries, and other garden centers. If one controls aphids, then one controls sooty mildew which is a filmy thick black substance found on the front and back of leaves. Also mealy bugs and whiteflies cause this sooty mildew. If the soap does not do the trick, there are insecticides, such as Neem, for this purpose. Spider mites are another pest which plague some gardens and wreck havoc with ornamentals, the foliage on plants and on vegetables. The tell tale signs are yellowing leaves, tiny yellow or red spots and fatigued lack luster plants. Also an indication of an infestation is a light webbing on the underside of the leaves. To rid your garden of these, one can purchase a miticide, but with continued use, the spider mites frequently become resistant. To thwart their resistance, use different agents at intervals, and use a hard spray of cold water to help control the infestation. Roses are particularly vulnerable to spider mites. Bulbs can be infected with bulb mites and leave the bulb stunted, deformed with sickly and disfigured flowers. Unfortunately, all diseased bulbs must be destroyed along with the soil surrounding the infected bulb. Do not plant new healthy bulbs in soil that was infested with bulb mites.
PLANT OF THE MONTH--COREOPSIS
Coreopsis is a great example of a native American wildflower that has been brought off the streets and highways into the home gardens for years. The daisy like blooms have been cherished by gardeners with their blooms of many colors. The most common bear yellow flower heads, which is a perennial with a long bloom cycle. After one wave of bloom, shear it back and a new flush of blooms spring forward. They bloom from early June through July or later and require full sun. Once established, coreopsis is extremely drought resistant and will not thrive if the soil is constantly moist. Another maintenance plus is that they do not need constant fertilizer and one application in the spring will be enough for the year. Bring a bunch of coreopsis into the home for a cheerful flower arrangement.