July 2016
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

Flowers by the Gallons

Find yourself needing to catch up in the garden? Well, you can still add some color to containers and flowerbeds with plants purchased in gallon or larger pot sizes. The garden industry is responding to demand for quick results by growing plants in increasingly large containers. Years ago, you might have only found a bedding plant such as a zinnia in packs or 4-inch pots for transplanting, but today much bigger plants are sold already in full bloom. Once transplanted, these look like they’ve been in place for a while. Look for big pots (or hanging baskets) of color at your favorite garden center if you’re in a pinch for a party or special occasion this month.

Mosquito Spraying

Concerns about Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases are encouraging homeowners to keep bees in mind when approaching mosquito control. Any spraying or fogging of the landscape should be done in the evening or at night, never during the day when bees are active. Be aware of this when using a mosquito-control service. Also, keep abreast of what products are being used to ensure they are as bee-friendly as possible.

  Sunpatiens are the first impatiens that actually need sun.

Sunpatiens

We have learned that impatiens are flowers for the shade. Then we learned about New Guinea impatiens that can tolerate a little more sun, especially with plenty of water. Now there are Sunpatiens, the first impatiens that actually need sun. A cross between New Guinea and another undisclosed impatiens, this patented plant blooms prolifically all summer with at least a half day of sunshine. There are several colors and plant forms from 4 feet tall to low and spreading. While still needing a good bit of water, they are easier to grow than New Guineas, which are more persnickety about just the right ratio of sun and shade. If you like impatiens, these are for sure worth a try!

Screens

Wax myrtle is a great native evergreen shrub for screening.  

Summer cookouts and patio time can make obvious the need for a privacy screen. If you look at Pinterest or Google images for privacy screens, you will find many options made of wood, but what about a green screen of foliage? If you have the space, evergreen shrubs can also double as shelter for songbirds. In areas where city noise is a constant, anything you can do to encourage songbirds is a nice respite from the background hum of traffic. What are some good, not-too-huge evergreens? How about wax myrtle, camellia, Emerald arborvitae or pencil boxwood? Measure your space and choose a plant that will not grow taller or wider than the space can accommodate so as not to create a new pruning task for yourself. The right plant in the right place makes for a good space.

Bush Beans

There is still time to get a second crop of bush beans by planting seeds now through August. Just be sure to keep them watered and watch for Mexican bean beetles that can strip the leaves. After the seeds sprout, keep the planting mulched to help them in the hot weather.

Renew Knock Out Roses

You can do some shaping and pruning to Knock Out roses now to encourage a great look for fall. You can start by trimming shoots that have become much longer than others. Or, if needed, tip-prune the branches by just a few inches to maintain a uniform height and encourage new growth and flowers for fall. Of course, also cut away dead, diseased or damaged stems by cutting them entirely from the plant, making the cut all the way back to the base where they originate. Give your plants a little rose food and water during dry weather. Plants that are getting enough sun and are strong and healthy will keep blooming into the fall.

Bargain Shopping

If you need some big ornamental containers for a special place on your patio or in the garden, July may be an economical month for adding them. Watch for clearance sales at garden centers at this time of year as they start making room for fall inventory. Good quality weatherproof containers made of concrete, fiberglass and double-walled plastic, or hard-fired, glazed clay can be counted on to last outdoors for many years. Our first big concrete container is still going strong after 37 years. The technology and design of containers keeps improving to where many are now very lightweight, but durable. Others have good, built-in self-watering reservoirs to reduce how often you must water. Others are very large, big enough to hold small trees for a few years.

 

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.