Mid-Atlantic

July, 2006
Regional Report

Deadheading Roses

By now most roses are through their first flush. To encourage further flowering on repeat bloomers, prune off the dead flowers like so: Disinfect bypass pruners by wiping blades with alcohol or other disinfectant to reduce risk of carrying disease to the next plant. Clip just above a leaf with five leaflets. Prune at a 45-degree angle sloping away from the leaf juncture (node).

Fertilizing Roses

Roses are heavy feeders, requiring frequent fertilizing to continue blooming (if they're repeat bloomers). Flowering and feeding will slow down in very hot weather, though. Feed once more this month, or before August 15. The American Rose Society recommends a slow-release, organic fertilizer: per bush apply 1 cup bone meal or superphosphate (0-20-0), 1 cup cottonseed meal, 1/2 cup blood meal, 1/2 cup fish meal, 1/2 cup Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate). Water thoroughly before and after spreading fertilizer around the bush to the outer edges. For convenience, I use Espoma FlowerTone or GardenTone and apply according to directions.

Water, Water, Water

The Chicago Botanic Garden advises that in times of drought, prolonged hot weather, or water restrictions, first water all newly planted trees and shrubs, newly planted perennials and vines, and newly sodded or seeded lawns. New plantings need 1 inch of water per week. These plants are long-term investments -- expensive to replace. Water annuals last because they're short-lived anyway.

Water and Fertilize Container Plantings

Come July, the roots of container plants are crowded inside those pots. Keeping beautiful annuals flowering and cascading involves frequent, thorough watering at the roots. Flood with water three times: the first time, much of the water will flow off; a lot of the second wave will soak in; add fertilizer (half the recommended amount) to the third dousing, which should saturate the soil mix.

Pick and Enjoy

Pick summer squash, eggplants, cukes, and beans when they're young, tender, and tasty. The more you pick, the more the plants will produce. Pluck off ripe cherry tomatoes and eat ASAP. Remove nearly ripe, full-size tomatoes and let them sit for a night or two off the vine. They'll be ripe and delicious in no time. That gives the next batch more plant energy to mature.

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