June’s ‘To Do List’ in the garden
By Dawn Pettinelli - UConn Home & Garden Education Center
Featured Article - posted Wed., May. 29, 2013
With the gardening season in full swing, there is no lack of chores to be done. A little extra effort now will be appreciated later on when you’d rather be relaxing in the hammock. I keep telling myself this as I got another dozen annuals planted despite the attack of the mosquitoes this evening! Also, well-cared-for and properly-planted plants will perform better and are better able to tolerate any stressful conditions they might encounter this growing season.
There is still time to plant annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Just be sure to keep your new arrivals well-watered this first season.
Fill some containers with annuals for instant color. Almost anything that will hold a soilless potting mix can be used, as long as there are holes for drainage. Use containers to accent the front door, adorn porches or decks, or serve as focal points in the gardens or yard. Do remember that the smaller the container is, the more often it will need to be watered and fertilized.
Divide spring blooming perennials like phlox, pulmonaria and primroses after they finish flowering. There is still time to divide fall blooming mums, asters and boltonias. Make sure each division has a good root system, replant immediately, and water them in with a dilute compost tea or seaweed fertilizer. Pinch mum and asters, when they get about 6 inches tall, for fuller plants with more blossoms.
Fertilize your perennial beds if you haven’t already done so. A 5-10-10 fertilizer or the organic equivalent at 2 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet will generally supply adequate nutrition. If compost has been routinely supplied, test the soil before adding more nutrients as often only a source of potassium is needed. Use a fine mulch like shredded bark or buckwheat hulls for a more finished look. Keep a calendar of bloom times so you can decide what additions would be most appropriate.
Leave the foliage of spring flowering bulbs to yellow and ripen. Yes, it is an eyesore, but just bunch up the leaves and overplant the dying foliage with annuals or perennials. When the foliage finally turns brown, you can lift and divide naturalizers, like daffodils and crocuses. Replant bulbs now or store in a dark, cool place until fall. If not digging and dividing, then just cut the brown foliage at ground level.
Finish planting your tender, summer-flowering bulbs. Gladiolus could have been set out starting in mid-May with additional plantings made every two weeks or so until July for a continuous supply of these stunning cutflowers. Besides glads, dahlias, and cannas, there are many other interesting tender bulbs to experiment with, including tigridias, crocosmias, acidantheras, eucomis and tuberoses. I noticed a few crocosmias had overwintered and were sending up leaves. Supposedly they are hard here, but mostly they die off for me over the winter, so we’ll see if I finally got a hardy variety this time.
If it’s fragrance you are after, sow seeds of wallflowers for heady blossoms next May. Foxgloves and Sweet Williams are two other biennials to start from seed now. Dead-heading will often keep these plants alive for more than a couple of years. If these biennials do go to seed, sprinkle some in areas where you want new plants to grow.
Now, through mid-July, is the time to prune most evergreens. Judiciously clip back some new growth to side shoots to keep the plants compact, yet natural looking. Prune junipers sparingly. Cut just below a side shoot to avoid leaving unsightly stubs. Rhododendrons and azaleas usually just need an occasional removal of an overgrown branch or two.
Check vegetable and fruit plants regularly for insect or disease problems. Many beginning gardeners are surprised at the number of pests that their fruit or vegetable plants will encounter. If you need help with plant pest problems or other home or garden related queries, call the UConn Home & Garden Education Center (toll-free) at 877-486-6271, visit www.ladybug.uconn.edu, or get in touch with your local Cooperative Extension Center.