Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials
Guide to June Gardening (page 4 of 5)
by John R. Dunmire
June Gardening in the South (zones 7 to 10)
Gardeners in the South enjoyed their June earlier, in May or even April. The lower the latitude, the earlier the high season. An old classic June bloomer in cooler areas, 'Lord of June' tall bearded iris, may open in April or May in the South.
Hydrangeas that will not bloom until July in the Northeast are June performers in the South. The big white, pink, or blue hortensias (Hydrangea macrophylla, zones 6 to 9) are now available in smaller varieties. 'Forever Pink' reaches 2 to 3 feet, with somewhat greater spread, and its 4-inch flower heads appear from June to frost, fading from pure pink to deep rose. 'Pia' is even smaller: 2 feet tall and broad, with purple-toned pink flowers in 4- to 5-inch clusters. Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia, zones 5 to 9) produces its tall pyramidal white flower clusters this month. Its flowers age to pink, and the bold oakleaf foliage takes on handsome maroon to purple tones in the fall. 'Snowflake' and 'Snow Queen' have been selected for bloom quality.
Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia, zones 7 to 9) do not peak until late summer, but a few varieties-white semidwarf 'Acoma', lavender 3-foot dwarf 'Centennial', tall dark red 'Centennial Spirit', pink semidwarf 'Hopi', and tall white-flowering 'Natchez' are likely to blooming in June.
Butterfly bushes (Buddleia, zones 5 to 9) provide long bloom beginning in late June. They also attract butterflies. Pruning presents no complications; cut the stems nearly to the ground each spring. Improved varieties include: B. davidii 'Dartmoor', with dense, many-branched flower clusters; and the Nanho series (B. d. nanhoensis), compact growers with flowers in blue, purple, or white.
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, zones 5 to 9) is considered a late-summer bloomer, but it often starts to bloom earlier in the South. Newer varieties of these tough, tolerant shrubs with a long bloom season have sterile flowers that produce no unattractive seed capsules and no unwanted volunteers. 'Aphrodite' is pink with a red eye, 'Diana' pure white, 'Helene' white with a deep red eye, and 'Minerva' deep lavender with a dark red eye.
June Gardening in the Rockies (zones 3 to 7)
In the Rocky Mountains and high-desert areas of the Southwest, June is not a month for languor. Everything needs doing. You must plant trees, shrubs, and perennials in June so they can sink in their roots before early frosts. Set out bedding plants after the last frost. Crackling dry air and uncertain rainfall in these regions make careful attention to irrigation a necessity. Take special care to water plants under roof overhangs; they don't receive moisture from summer rains, and the death by drought of otherwise hardy plants is sometimes mistakenly attributed to winterkill.
New Plants. For new plant ideas, the Denver Botanic Garden has extensive outdoor plantings, including a remarkable rock garden, with mountain plants from all over the world. Some of these are ground covers that make good choices for small areas. Beard tongue (Penstemon pinifolius, zone 8), a native of the southern Rockies, is a 6-inch mound spreading to 2 feet in width. Its tiny leaves are needlelike, and the flowers are bright red (or, in the variety 'Mersea', bright yellow). P. linarioides (zone 4) is similar, but with lilac to purple flowers. From Turkey comes Veronica liwanensis (zone 6), an inch-tall sheet of bright blue flowers in late spring and summer. From South Africa come two hardy ice plants: Delosperma nubigenum with bright yellow flowers and D. cooperi with rich purple blooms. Both plants have succulent green leaves that turn red in winter.