Gardening 101: Summer Maintenance Blomidon Nurseriessiteadmin
Following a busy month of July in Nova Scotia, when Blomidon trucks are full and going out every day, we arrive in the month of August—the month of “Summer Maintenance.” While many people are of the opinion that this is a boring subject, it is a necessary and vital topic of discussion in the care of your healthy garden.
There are several topics we need to consider:
- Pests and Diseases
The first item on our list is pruning, and for those of you who think that you can prune whenever you want, at any time of year, you are so wrong! For most of your plants, you have until the end of July and then you must stop pruning!
The reason is this: every time you prune, you promote growth. As soon as you get out there with your clippers and start pruning, you start a process which will lead to an appearance of a flux of new growth. All that new growth requires time to mature, to get hard and woody before winter sets in. Otherwise, it will die back and won’t survive the winter.
This applies to most of your garden, but you wouldn’t want to prune anything that hasn’t flowered yet. For example, Hydrangeas that flower in July are not candidates for July pruning as pruning would remove those sought-after flower buds! Lilac and Mock Orange are examples of plants to be pruned in July because their flowering occurred a couple of months ago, and pruning can give a nice shape to the bush.
Excluded from this pruning schedule would be Maple, Birch, Walnut, and Grapevines as these are heavy bleeders and a lot of damage can be done by pruning in midsummer. These should be pruned when they are dormant, usually in winter. Grapevines, for example, should be pruned in winter when all the sap has gone down into the roots, preventing the days-long bleeding that would occur if pruned in the summer.
Remember, the end of July is the cutoff point in most cases to give new growth time to get hard and woody before going into winter.
If you have planted any tree, shrub, evergreen, or perennial, no matter what it is, the end of July is also the cutoff date for fertilizer. The reason is the same as with pruning. Fertilizer will encourage a whole lot of new growth, and you want to give the plant time to be hardened off going into winter.
Annuals, planters, and hanging baskets show increased root growth as the summer progresses, which leads them to require more water. Annuals are heavy feeders. They have a short life and can take a lot of fertilizer. If you always use the recommended dosage on the fertilizer container, you should be feeding them every time you water them! That will keep them looking beautiful right up until the frost takes them out.
So many people think they know how to water their plants, but 90% of the time, they don’t.
If you plant any trees, shrubs, or evergreens from May until freeze-up in the fall, you need to keep them well watered in times of drought. If you are not getting plenty of rain, you need to give them a good soaking once a week until the ground freezes for winter. You do not want the ground to be dry when it freezes, especially with evergreens, because we inevitably have those warm winter days with temperatures above zero, which can lead to winter damage if the plant has no water.
Think of the depth of the pot you purchased the plant in. It is usually 12–14 inches deep, so when you water the plant, you now must get water down 14–16 inches into the ground to encourage the roots to go down to get water rather that go up to the surface. No one is going to stand there watering long enough to get water to that depth, so the best idea is to put the hose on a slow trickle or put it on a sprinkler and leave it on that spot for a half hour or 45 minutes once a week. This should be plenty of water for your newly situated plant.
Pests and Diseases
This is the time of year when all those little critters show up intent on doing damage to your wonderful garden. There is no preventative thing you can do for these pests and diseases. All you can do is keep a close eye on your plants and identify the problems as they appear.
We’ve had quite a bit of rain this year, so we have lots of slugs around. You know when they are there because they leave a slimy trail behind for us to find in the mornings. Earwigs love it when we have dry weather, and aphids can be another big problem. If you see leaves starting to curl, just unfurl them to see if there are bugs in there. Nine times out of ten, there will be.
Mildew and other fungal diseases appear when we have high humidity levels, so keep a close watch on your plants, and when a problem appears, find out what the remedy is and deal with it in the moment. Many customers will take a picture of a pest or disease they can’t identify and take it in to the nursery where knowledgeable staff can help with identification and remedy options.
Of course, the same staff is always at your service for all your gardening needs, no matter what that may be, whether you need a pruning saw, a pump-up sprayer, just the right fertilizer, some type of pest control product, or just some good advice.
While “Summer Maintenance” may still be a boring subject for many of you, paying close attention to its principles will keep your garden healthy and beautiful in every season!