Cary, NC Gardening during the hot summer months can be challenging, to say the least. Soaring temperatures and high humidity often make even a brief trip out to the mailbox an unpleasant experience, let alone thinking about working out in the yard. Even though it's still perfectly OK to be putting in new plants right now, providing you can be on hand with plenty of water to help them get established, planting may not be on your current to-do list. But if you can stand to spend a few minutes outdoors, either in the early mornings or late evenings, I have a few basic care tips for the summer months that will help keep your yard in tip-top shape.
Keep Those Weeds Under Control
Summer in our area seems to be the magic switch to bring on the weeds. Sauna-like conditions brought on by heat and humidity, while wilting people and garden plants alike, tend to trigger rampant, tropical rainforest-type growth from those pesky weeds. Besides making your planting beds look bad, all those weeds actually have a detrimental effect on the rest of your plants by stealing much needed nutrients and water from the ground. And during hot and tough times like these, your plants don't need the competition. So start pulling weeds out of the flower beds. If they get a foothold, weeds will be tough to control. Pull them out by hand or lightly hoe them, and then suppress their emergence with a layer of mulch.
Prune those leggy annuals
With the approach of midsummer, many annuals may go into a slump and start to decline. Flowers may become sparse and the plants may look ragged. This condition is most likely due to high nighttime temperatures, and is a common problem with many plants. Trimming back your plants will keep them bushy and encourage the formation of new flowers. Remove spent blossoms on annual flowering plants as often as possible. This encourages further flowering rather than seed production.
Self-cleaning flowers save time and work in the garden by dropping dead blooms, thus requiring no trimming or deadheading. Among them are ageratum, cleome, gomphrena, impatiens, New Guinea impatiens, pentas, wax begonia, and narrowleaf zinnia.
Annual beds can use a boost right about now, especially where the soil is sandy or the season has been rainy. Apply slow-release fertilizer for maximum benefit with minimum effort. For a quick but brief response, water plants with a liquid fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Fertilize each plant to encourage root and stem growth. This should encourage your annuals to bloom until they are killed by freezing weather.
And lastly, if you're going on vacation this month and will be leaving your garden for a week or more, make plans to have someone take care of your plants while you are away. To make things easier for the caregiver, group plants in containers together near a water source and out of the afternoon sun. Grouping them will help conserve water, and shade will help reduce the need for water.
Hope these tips help you maintain a beautiful and healthy garden this summer. Remember, our friendly experts are on hand seven days a week to answer all your gardening questions and needs. Have a great summer, and we hope to see you all soon down at Garden Supply Co!