Mid-Atlantic

July, 2009
Regional Report

Shear Dead Flowers and Stems

Some flowering perennials that form drifts can be deadheaded by shearing, using sharpened, long-handled shears to clip off dead flowers and shaggy stems -- for example, Geranium 'Biokova', coreopsis, evening primrose, yarrow, nepeta, and candytuff.

Tidy Bed Edges Especially Along Walkways

While some hosta foliage softens a bed edge, too many large leaves IN the walkway can be a trip hazard. For hosta, sometimes pulling out the large lower leaves is enough to clear the edge. If that's not sufficient, prune away one leaf at a time (no buzz cut) to keep the edge attractive. Clip back encroaching perennial geranium stems, Vinca major, English ivy, wayward shrub branches -- anything that might cause someone admiring the garden's beauty (or hurriedly walking through) to trip and fall.

Stop Pushing It Away; Prune It

A forsythia branch droops to literally meet the eye. An extended rose cane arches and taps the shoulder. A maple branch touches the head of anyone under 5 feet tall. It's okay to get the pruners and clip each of these back or off. In fact, it's the thoughtful and safe thing to do -- to prevent injury.

Give Container Plants a Mid-Summer Boost

To help them through July's heat and stress, fertilize annuals, perennials, shrubs, roses, and grasses in containers. I'm big on liquid kelp and organic plant food. Diluted kelp can be sprayed on the leaves or watered in the soil. Follow plant food directions. If using synthetic granular fertilizer, make a weaker dilution so less residue builds up on the soil and container edges.

Weed After a Rain

Even if you've mulched well with 3 inches of shredded bark or licorice root on ornamental garden beds and tree pits, some weeds will poke through. After a rain, take a few minutes to walk through and pull up weed and tree seedlings. This is quite satisfying; it's easy to remove a lot of pesky plants in a short time.

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