Each month, the Master Gardeners will provide some maintenance ideas for your annuals, perennials, vegetables, lawns, trees and shrubs. These gardening tips will help you to de-stress in nature while beautifying your landscape.
We are starting to see — and feel — the hottest part of the growing season. To reduce the stress on your plants, consider putting on a layer of mulch to keep your soil and plant roots cool. Watering also is critical during these hot months and established plants will need 1 inch of water weekly. For container plantings, check them daily and water thoroughly when the top few inches begin to dry.
As annuals continue to flower, remove the flowers to get continual blooming. Consider bringing your beautiful gardening inside by harvesting fresh flowers early in the morning. If you have not applied a slow-release fertilizer to the soil of your annuals, a quick-release fertilizer can be applied once a month throughout the growing season.
Stake up your dahlias, lilies and gladiolus as needed. Dig up and divide spring-blooming perennials like poppies, bleeding heart and iris. Make sure to plant the iris rhizome at soil level to encourage blooming. Tie up new growth on climbing roses and lightly trim early summer-blooming spireas to encourage rebloom. Your vegetable garden is in full swing and will provide a large harvest with some care.
In The Garden
Continue to harvest spinach, summer squash, radishes, beets, broccoli and herbs. Restore June-bearing strawberry beds immediately after final harvest by removing old leaves, thin the plants so they are 4 to 6 inches apart and apply a complete fertilizer. Remove 3 inches of raspberry canes to encourage branching. Remove tomato plant “suckers” (stems that develop between leaf and main stem) as they form as they take energy away from making tomatoes. Regularly watering tomatoes will help prevent blossom-end-rot. Monitor for pests like squash vine borers, cabbage worms, Colorado potato beetles and aphids. Contact your local Iowa State Extension Office if you have questions on how to best manage pests.
For lawn care, keep your grass 3 to 3 1/2 inches tall because it will be more drought resistant. In general, growing lawns need 1 inch of water per week but if you are just maintaining your lawn then you can decide to let it go dormant or help Mother Nature with some watering. Remember to water your lawn in the morning to allow time for it to dry out by the afternoon.
Take Care of Trees
Trees may need watering during prolonged hot and dry spells. Established trees need watering every two weeks while moisture-loving trees, like the paper birch, need to be watered weekly.
If you have newly planted trees, check them often and water them thoroughly as needed. Monitor your trees for any diseases and if you see any leaf drop, rake and destroy fallen leaves to reduce the source of infection for next season.
As you walk your landscape and take in the fruits of your labor, take a few minutes to look for areas you want to make improvements for next season and keep a look out for pests. During this month, you may start to see Japanese beetles and other pests showing up. For Japanese beetles, it’s best to remove and destroy the beetles in soapy water. Don’t use traps because they just attract more beetles.
For more information, see these free publications at the Iowa State University Extension Store at store.extension.iastate.edu:
• RG 105 — Garden Tips, Guidelines to Seasonal Chores
• RG 201 — Integrated Pest Management for your Home Gardens and Landscapes
• RG 209 — Organic Mulches
• RG 501 — Pruning Raspberries
• PD 54 — Tomato Diseases and Disorders
For questions about seeds and other gardening issues, call the Linn County Extension Hortline at (319) 447-0647.