Northern & Central Midwest

June, 2005
Regional Report

Use Copper Wires to Prevent Tomato Blight

If you haven't done so already, put copper wires through your tomato stems. 18 gauge wires, about 2 to 3 inches long, pushed through the base of tomato stems when they are about pencil thick will go a long way toward preventing fungal diseases, such as early and late blight.

Prune Suckers and Watersprouts

Now is the time to prune sucker growth from crab apples and fruit trees. Suckers are sprouts from ground level. Prune them out below the soil if possible. Also, prune out watersprouts, the vertical fast-growing shoots in fruit and ornamental trees. These ruin the form and can weaken the tree.

Get a Second Bloom from Perennials

Some spring-blooming perennials can be cut back to promote a late-summer display of flowers. Try cutting back perennial geraniums, salvias, catmint, delphiniums, centaurea, and baptisia. Others such as coreopsis and shasta daisies will bloom most of the summer as long as you deadhead them regularly.

Transplant Oriental Poppies

As Oriental poppy foliage yellows and dies, the plants can be moved or divided. Replant them in a sunny area. Since poppies have this tendency to fade, be sure to over-plant them with annuals or other perennials that will fill in the empty spots. Try some of the newer colors such as coral, pink, and maroon.

Prune Espaliered Plants

Take care of your espaliered trees. The end of June and early July is the time to give them their second pruning, after the spring flush of growth is finished. Trim branches back to a stem, using sharp pruning tools. Don't use pruning paint, and step back often to see how you are shaping them.

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