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 Green Thumb Nursery - 319-393-5946 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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Perennial Gardening Pt. 2

August 16, 2003

 The joy of perennial gardening continues all summer and into autumn!

The mad rush of spring planting and garden work is behind us, and we've given sufficient time for the soil to warm and awaken all the plants...if the plants haven't emerged by now they are in eternal rest in plant heaven! Now is the time to evaluate your perennial garden in a careful but more leisurely manner. Often larger, more mature plants are available in June and through the summer that will add a little more pizzazz to your garden.

June is the time to shear the tops of the early spring bloomers to get a more ornamental foliage effect for the remainder of the season. Early June is the time to trim back many of the tall late season bloomers to control the bloom height and make them bushier and more flower productive. Try this with varieties like Autumn Joy Sedum, Asters, or Monkshood. Experiment with just a few of your plants and then this fall check the results of your "June pinch". Staking larger growers (like delphinium, etc.) is best done early but be sure to get it done now if you were too busy with other spring gardening chores.

Some new plant varieties arrive in summer. Our first shipment of the new Salvia 'Marcus' arrived the first week of June. It's a cute little compact grower with the familiar violet purple spike blooms of Salvia, but only grows 8 to 12 inches. A great bloomer over a long period and perfect for the edge of the garden means this new one will be a winner!

Leucanthemum 'Becky' or Becky Shasta Daisy is the Perennial Plant Association's Plant of the Year 2003. Plant this one is a sunny garden and enjoy a profusion of blooms on strong 30-36 inch long stems. It makes a good cut flower and regularly pushes new blooms in the garden when the old flowers are trimmed off or "dead headed".

Roses provide a great show throughout the summer and autumn with their continual flowering. Some of the newer varieties of hardy and disease resistant shrub roses make life so easy for us! Knock Out and the Flower Carpet varieties put on a fabulous show of bloom with practically no care. All we do is fertilize once in the spring after we've cut them back and then water through the remainder of the season. We love to put them in shrub borders, foundation plantings and perennial gardens. We encourage you to visit us and see our "easy care" roses in all their glory!

Other summer gardening tips:

  • Apply fungicide to tomato plants. Our cool humid weather through late spring is perfect for diseases on tomato plants. Many tomato diseases are not "curable" but are "controllable". So begin applying a control product before disease flares up. Stake tomato plants to keep them up off the ground and mulch around the plants.

  • Apply mulch to your plantings now that the soil has warmed. Mulch helps conserve moisture, cool the soil, and serves as a good weed barrier. All qualities that will benefit your plantings of trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables.

  • Early June is the best time to prune some conifers like pines, spruce and fir and the time for shaping the new growth on yews, juniper and arborvitae.

  • Trim and shape deciduous shrubs immediately after their bloom. For example, lilacs should be shaped in early June.

  • A rotational pinch of annual flowers should begin in June. Every couple weeks through summer cut back a just a few of the annual flowers in your hanging baskets, patio pots, and gardens. This promotes bushier plants with more blooms and a fresh look to your plantings throughout summer. Remember to keeping fertilizing as most annuals are heavy feeders and need to push new growth to bloom.

  • Watch for Japanese Beetle and use appropriate control measures before serious damage occurs to your plants. (More information is available at the Japanese Beetle link at the right side of our homepage.)

  • The water in ponds has warmed. Now is the time to get your floating and submerged plants in place. The hot summer sun increases algae growth. Plants shade the water to help reduce algae as well as add to the beauty and enjoyment of your water display.

  • Water, weed, fertilize and harvest vegetables.

  • Continue to water young trees and shrubs weekly or as needed.

  • Divide peonies, irises and daylilies in August.