July Garden Tips
from Al Krismer Plant Farm
Dear Gardening Enthusiast,
A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze
is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is
broken. - James Dent
The lazy days of summer have arrived. Even if you have
gardening chores to do, this is the time to relax and enjoy
the fruits of your labor. And don't overdo it when the
weather is hot and steamy, which is to say, most of the
time. Stay out of midday heat if possible, relax with a good
beach read and a cool drink, and save any gardening tasks
for the early morning or early evening.
Don't fret if you have some causalities due to the summer
heat and humidity. We still have a wide range of annuals
which you can use to add color to your garden. Try some of
the heat lovers for full sun such as lantanas, blue or pink
angelonias, vincas, and petunias. For the shady areas we
still have both double and single flowering impatiens and
the dependable wax begonias.
IMPORTANT TIP OF THE MONTH
The Dog Days of summer officially begin on July 3rd and last
till August 11th. They are linked with the rising of the Dog
Star, Sirius, these are the hottest and unhealthiest days of
the year (be careful gardening ... lots of fluids
please!) Protect yourself when out in the garden. Wear a
straw hat and apply sunscreen and insect repellant.
Encourage your gardening friends to sign up for our specials
and monthly e-news. Just scroll to the bottom of this e-news
and click on "Forward to a Friend"
Check July recipes at the bottom
Need gardening help? Having deer or snail problems or how to
care for that hanging basket? click
here for our tip sheet library.
Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs:
If you've been pinching back your mums
throughout the spring, mid- to-late July is the
last time to pinch. Flowers will begin to bloom
about 6 to 8 weeks after the last pinching. If
you haven't been pinching your mums all spring,
here's an easy care trick: cut them back by half
in early July and fertilize. This will help them
to grow bushier and delay bloom until later in
the summer. For more info
Add several inches of mulch to Asiatic lilies.
This will keep the roots cool, protect them from
heat and deter weed growth.
Cutting flowers is best done with sharp shears
or a knife which will help avoid injury to the
growing plant. A slanting cut will expose a
larger absorbing surface to water and will
prevent the base of the stem from resting on the
bottom of the vase. It is best to carry a bucket
of water to the garden for collecting flowers,
rather than a cutting basket.
Cut back candytuft, snow-in-summer, rockcress,
and other fine stemmed plants to half their
height after flowering to promote a second
flowering for the year.
Vegetables and Herbs:
If your tomatoes develop a rotten spot on the
bottom, discard the affected tomatoes so your
plant won't waste energy trying to ripen them.
This problem, called blossom end rot, is the
result of a calcium deficiency that's usually
caused by uneven watering. Scratch a little lime
into the soil around the plants and try to water
deeply once a week if we don't get at least an
inch of rain.
Plant a late season vegetable garden by mid
July. In the tri-state area our average date of
first frost is around October 15. Vegetables
that can be direct seeded in July for a fall
harvest are beets, beans, collards, cucumbers,
summer squash and cabbage. Be sure to supply
moisture as seedlings grow during hot weather.
Watch for a couple of common vegetable problems.
Tomatoes full of flowers, but no fruit. This is
usually caused by high day time temperatures of
90F and above and night time temperatures above
70F. Once temperatures cool, the tomatoes will
set fruit. Another common problem is very large
tomato plants with no flowers or fruit.
Gardeners who are fertilizing with a high
nitrogen fertilizer on a weekly basis usually
cause this. Tomatoes need a starter fertilizer
when transplants are set out and an application
of a general garden fertilizer such as 5-10-5
when the first fruits set.
Plant broccoli, carrots, turnips, lettuce and
radishes now to enjoy a nice fall garden. Choose
early varieties so that they will mature before
the first frost.
In the vegetable garden, indeterminate tomato
plants such as 'Better Boy' will produce many
suckers. A sucker is that new growth that comes
in where a branch connects with the main trunk.
Removing suckers will decrease the number of
fruits produced but will ensure that the
remaining tomatoes will be larger and will ripen
July is pesto time. When harvesting basil, don't
just remove individual leaves, but cut back
whole stems. This will create a bushier plant
that will produce more leaves and less flowers
and scraggily growth. Pick basil in the morning
for the best flavor. This is when the oil
content in the leaves is highest. For more info
Cucumbers develops a bitter taste if the soil is
not kept consistently moist. Harvest for
pickling whole when 2 to 4 inches; for table
use, when longer than 5 inches. Remove any
overripe cucumbers to encourage continuous
production. For more information on vine crops
such as squash,melons and gourds
Squash vine borer is a difficult-to-control pest
of vine crops, particularly summer and winter
squashes. Adults lay eggs for a three-week
period starting in late June. Cover lower
section of stems with floating row cover or even
aluminum foil to prevent egg laying. Look for
and remove by hand any brown egg masses seen on
the lower stems. Spraying carbaryl (Sevin) is
more effective than using the dust formulation.
Continue to deadhead annuals and perennials
(cutting or pinching off dead flowers) for a
Continue your spraying program on your roses. To
control powdery mildew or black spot you may
have to spray weekly. Be sure to spray after
Periodically wash your plants off with a
forceful steam of water. This will help to
remove any insects off your plants without the
use of chemicals.
Salt deposits can build up in the soil of
container plants. This will cause the foliage to
burn. Flush out these deposits with water once
during the summer.
Garden plants should be checked periodically for
summer pests. Check the timing for last
application in relation to the date of harvest
for edible crops. Use organic control measures
as available, check with your local garden
Garden Maintenance: Don't worry if the size of
your roses is smaller than usual. If heat is
excessive this month, your flowers may be about
half their usual size-they should recover to
normal size when the weather cools. Cut
fertilization to half strength to avoid
stressing the plants further. Reduce problems
with black spot by watering only in the morning
and remove lower leaves of diseased plants to
improve air circulation.
Shrubs and Trees:
Do not prune Azaleas and Rhododendrons after the
second week of July for they soon will begin
setting their buds for next year's blooms
Begin looking for webs of fall webworm on woody
plants. Control by cutting out branches wrapped
in webbing where possible. Spraying with the
botanical insecticide Bt (Dipel, Thuricide and
others) is very effective on very young larvae.
Water newly planted shrubs and young trees
(planted within the last three to five years)
during dry weather. Allow water to penetrate to
a depth of 8-10" rather than sprinkling
frequently and lightly.
The key is to only cut one third of the grass
off at any mowing. Cutting too short, or cutting
too much of the grass off at one time can reduce
the ability of grass to withstand drought
Keep the lawn mowed even though this is usually
a time when grass growth slows. If the weather
is dry, mow high, but less often.
Mow regularly to prevent weed seed spread. Don't
mow your lawn in the same direction every time,
but vary your path so that the turf and soil
don't form compacted mower ruts.
Raise the lawn mower height of cut to keep lawn
greener and put less stress on the grass. Don't
remove clippings from the lawn unless grass is
excessively tall or weedy. Clippings return
nutrients to the soil and do not add to thatch
House Plant Care:
If needed, re-pot root bound houseplants to a
larger pot. Use potting mix when repotting
Feed houseplants with a good quality indoor
plant food such Osmocote (slow-release
Those attempting to re-bloom poinsettias should
set the pot in a fairly sunny area and remove
about one inch of the top growth as soon as the
new growth is four inches long. Continue
pinching to shape the plant until late August.
Fertilize Hibiscus and other blooming tropical
plants with any flowering houseplant fertilizer.
These fertilizers are higher in phosphorus (the
middle number on the container) and promote
Don't stress out your fish! Water evaporation
rates are high this time of year, so remember to
add water if the water level of your pond goes
down. Before you add water use a dechlorinator
if your water is chlorinated.
If you have a pond or water garden, remember to
fertilize lilies and lotus twice monthly during
the growing season.
Time to switch from spring fish food to summer
fish food since water temperatures have risen
above 70 degrees. At higher temperatures, fish
metabolize at a faster rate, thus creating a
need for a diet higher in protein, which the
summer food contains
Do not worry about the tiny red worms that may
appear in your pond filter. These harmless
creatures are Blood Worms and they can be
beneficial to the pond. Blood Worms are the
larvae stage of chironomid midges - a very small
fly that resembles a mosquito but does not bite.
For more info on care of pond fish including koi
Remember to continue fertilizing your plants.
Remove dead foliage from the pond.
Feed your fish well.
Insect and Disease Control:
Avoid applying insecticides, fungicides or
fertilizers when the temperature is above 85
degrees. Spray in the early morning , when the
temperature is below 80 degrees and plants will
have a chance to dry before the temperatures
reach 85 degrees. Also, make sure plants are
well watered before spraying - don't spray them
when they're stressed by lack of water
mites are having a great year, which means your
plants probably aren't. Mites are tiny sucking
creatures, too small to be seen easily on the
leaves. The best way to check for mites is to
hold a piece of paper under the leaves of a
plant you suspect and shake the leaves a little.
If lots of little specks fall on the paper,
you've probably got mites.
With the hotter weather tiny insects called
thrips may become a problem. Thrips feed on
pollen and plant tissue damaging blooms and
causing new growth to become distorted. Worst
yet they carry various viruses which can ruin
plants particularly impatiens. Thrips like to
feed in blooms so take a piece of white paper
and shake a geranium or petunia bloom or any
other bloom above the paper. Thrips will appear
as tiny specs.
Start the annual watch for the dreaded Japanese
beetle. These one-half inch long shiny
green-headed beetles love roses and over 300
other plants. They are usually most active
during the warmest part of the day from 10 a.m.
3 p.m. The beetle will skeletonize leaves in a
short period of time. Advertised Japanese beetle
traps are not recommended. These may actually
attract more beetles and increase plant damage.
The insecticide Sevin will offer some control,
but use should be limited, since Sevin will kill
bees. An alternative control is to pick them off
by hand and drop them into soapy water.For more
info on controlling Japanese beetle
click on the Perdue University site
Spider mites can become a problem on ornamental
plants, vegetables, and fruit plants during hot,
dry weather. Watch for dusty-looking foliage,
loss of color, presence of tiny mites. Wash
infested areas with water or spray with
If a honeybee sting, it is the only insect to
leave its stinger behind. Don't squeeze the area
to try to eject the stinger as this will only
make more venom circulate. Rather, use a clean
fingernail, nail file, sterilized (in alcohol)
needle or knife blade to tease out the stinger.
There are many remedies you might have around
the house handy for stings:
*commercial antihistamine lotions you can buy
*ice on the sting for several minutes will help
*apply a paste of meat tenderizer! Yes, it
contains an enzyme from the papaya fruit that
neutralizes bee stings. Or you can rub the area
with fresh papaya.
*apply a single drop of peppermint oil to the
sting, 2 or 3 times a day
For more info on treating insect bites
Continue attracting insect eating birds to the
garden area by providing them with a fresh water
Butterflies have four life stages, two of which
have needs for food-- the larvae or
caterpillars, and the adults or butterflies. The
larvae of many butterflies aren't particular,
but some are. For instance, monarch larvae only
eat milkweeds. Black swallowtail larvae eat the
leaves of dill, parsley, carrot, and fennel.
Painted lady larvae eat thistle leaves. You must
provide food for such larvae, or you wont have
Early season nectar sources are important for
butterflies that overwinter as adults. Examples
are lupines, dames rocket, and lilacs. Late
season nectar sources are important for species
that end the season as adults. Asters,
goldenrod, helen's flower, and butterfly bush
are examples. Butterfly bush may not be winter
hardy in the colder areas, in which it may
either die to the ground in winter, or just be
grown as an annual. Because late fall flowers
have less nectar than those that bloom earlier,
fall-feeding butterflies need to visit more
flowers to satisfy their nutritional needs.
Butterflies are easy to please. They like to
sunbathe, so a large flat rock exposed to the
sun is a must. They also need mud baths, so set
up "butterfly puddles" where they can get
required salts and minerals. A dish of cut-up,
overripe fruit always hits the spot, and pastel
flowers are their favorites
Hummingbirds, for example, are attracted to red
flowers, such as bee balm, although you also may
wish to fill a hummingbird feeder with a
sugar-water mixture. The food is available
commercially, or you can make your own. Use only
pure, white sugar and not honey, however, as the
latter is lethal to these tiny birds.
For more info
click here for our hummingbird tip sheet
Tired of dealing with deer.
Download our tip sheet on controlling these
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