- Watering is crucial this month – plants in containers rely on you almost entirely for water and plants in the ground may also need more if it has been a dry month.
- The secret to watering is a really thorough watering and then leave it for a few days. This will encourage the roots to go deeper making them less vulnerable to drought and ensuring that the root ball is wet all the way through. Don’t be tempted to water every night, unless the plant is in a small pot or in a basket when it will need topping up almost daily. The danger with a dribble of water every night is either that you will encourage the roots to the surface or the plant will get insufficient water (it only being the top inch or two of the root ball that gets wet each time). Also there is often a problem with a plant remaining constantly too wet and then the root starts to rot, the plant will often then wilt and the temptation then is to water it again. It is very hard to rescue a plant that has got too wet and has started to rot.
- Remember the proverb ‘When you have learnt to water, you have learnt to garden’….
- Make sure that your pots and containers are heavy and wet – weight is a good way of determining how wet a pot is. If the pot is very large to push it with your foot or hand to see how easily it moves. It is paradoxically also important that the pot drains properly with all this water going in, so check that the drainage holes are unobstructed, that the pot is on pot feet or bricks so it is lifted up and that the soil has been changed within the last 3 years, as old compost does not drain properly.
- Remember to sit down and enjoy what you have created – an ideal time to relax with friends, a glass of wine and a barbecue.
Grow Your Own
-Remember to ensure that fruit trees and bushes are kept evenly moist, as a dry spring can result in them dropping an excessive amount of fruit.
-Plant out warm weather crops such as Tomatoes, Squashes, Cucumbers and Peppers.
-Many of the most popular vegetables can be sown now e.g. Carrots, Lettuce, Beans and Peas. They are particularly good harvested young as baby vegetables – they can be sown closer together and not thinned – they are tastier and much cheaper than buying from the supermarket.
-The first strawberries may start appearing now – the birds will be waiting for them as much as you are and therefore you will need to net as soon as you see them. You can apply a straw mulch now to protect the fruit from excess wet and mud – this will also rot down and improve the fertility and structure of the soil.
- Most houseplants will benefit from misting regularly when the weather is hot.
- Inspect the plants that you have put outside regularly for pest damage especially aphids and slugs and snails and treat accordingly.
- Ventilate to the maximum this month to prevent temperatures rising too high and causing damage.
- Seedlings sown earlier in the month can still be pricked out; others may be big enough to go straight out.
- Keep your bird bath topped up and clean it regularly – watch out that standing water doesn’t become a breeding ground for mosquitos!
- Many pond fish will spawn in July so they will benefit from a well planted pond with plenty of oxygenating plants and the water should be agitated either by a water feature or by playing a hose across the surface. It is particularly important to keep water features running on hot still nights when oxygen levels, particularly in a well-stocked pond, can fall dangerously low.
- Aquatic plants that have outgrown their space can be cut back and water lilies can have their dead flowers and leaves removed.
- When mowing in hot dry weather try setting the blades a little higher and allow the turf to grow taller, this will help the grass trap moisture at the base and cope better with the dry conditions. If the weather turns to drought try not mowing at all for a couple of weeks to allow the grass to get through it.
Tree, Shrubs & Hedges
- This is the month for hedges – newly planted hedges will need watering regularly and if they are straggly they can be lightly trimmed to encourage bushiness. Remember that hedges should be cut so that they taper from the bottom to the top – broad at the bottom and narrower at the top- this ensures light hits all the surfaces of the hedge evenly resulting in dense growth all the way up.
- Fast growing hedging such as Leylandii will need trimming throughout the growing season at regular intervals. It is important not to cut in to old wood as this will not re-sprout and will leave unsightly brown patches.
- Semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs such as Choisya, Hydrangea and Philadelphus can be taken now. Put them in to pots of gritty compost in a cold frame, propagator or with a plastic bag tied over the top (remember to put some holes in the bag so that it doesn’t become to damp). They should root within 6 weeks and extra air can be introduced gradually over this time.
- This is a particularly good month to trim Hawthorn hedges. If they are cut earlier they usually need another trim before the end of the season and if you leave it later the growth will have hardened up and be harder to cut.
- Roses will be in full bloom and will need dead heading regularly – don’t just take off the flower, or by the end of the season you will end up with a very tall gangly bush, instead take the stem back by two or three sets of leaves to keep the plant bushy and compact. Water, spray for pests and disease regularly and feed and the plant will carry on producing flowers into November.
- Now is a good time to visit gardens open to the public and note any favourites that you would like to try at home – container grown plants can be planted at any time as long as attention is paid to watering.
- Dead heading, watering and staking will all need checking this month.
- Some late flowering or particularly greedy perennials may need an extra hit of liquid feed to get the best out of them – particularly if they are on poor soil.
- Cutting basket plants back can revive a tired basket – follow it up by extra attention to feeding and watering.
- Now is a good time to start harvesting lavender for drying. Cut the entire stem when the flowers are colouring up but before they have opened, tie in bundles and hang up in a greenhouse or warm shed to dry or put them on a tray in the airing cupboard. When they are completely dry rub the buds off in to cloth bags or bowls.