Sponsored by Thomasville Garden Club, Inc.
“Normal” weather conditions have been anything but normal over the past several years. Now that it is July, we decided to try to determine what to expect from the weather this month. We looked at the websites of the Georgia State Climatologist, the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. We learned that the temperature and precipitation outlook for July 2012 in Georgia is “EC.” This stands for “equal chances of above normal, normal, and below normal temperatures and precipitation” this month. Somehow, this does not appear tremendously informative to us. What we do know from experience is that July is the heart of summer here and our temperatures, rainfall and humidity are all greater now than during any other month.
Chores for July include keeping weeds under control. Because of this month’s conditions, weed seeds germinate quickly. Weeds are hosts to many insects and diseases. Keep weeds cultivated out of all parts of the yarden to prevent infestation of your other plants.
Be on the lookout for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies on your plants. We recommend treating with insecticidal soap (we like Safer’s) because it is environmentally safe as well as effective. Be certain to apply to undersides of leaves.
Deadhead (remove faded flowers) annuals, perennials and roses on a regular basis to keep your plants bushier and to encourage the production of more flowers. Pinch back leggy plants for the same reason. Such grooming not only improves the appearance of your plants but once a plant flowers and goes to seed, it will usually stop developing additional flowers. Remember, the main purpose of plants is to reproduce themselves; when they have set their seeds, they consider their job done and stop “working.” You can usually get a second blooming from faded annuals such as petunias, salvia, marigolds and zinnias if you cut them back to about 6 inches above the soil to promote new growth. Cut back herbs such as basil, mint and oregano by about half to promote more fragrant leaves, as well as to prevent seed production. Likewise, pick ripe vegetables regularly because over-ripe vegetables left on plants stop bloom production.
Replace stragglers in your pots with such heat lovers as melampodium, zinnia, angelonia, Tithonia or portulaca but water them faithfully. For flowers that bloom into autumn, sometimes as late as November, plant asters and sunflowers. Because this is not really a good time for planting, try to choose an overcast day in order to create a little less stress on your new plants.
Plant marigold, cosmos and dwarf sunflower seeds for a nice show of flowers in about six weeks.
Keep trees, shrubs, flower beds and vegetables well mulched.
Do NOT prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs. It is too late for this because they are already forming their flower buds for next year’s blossoms.
Tough Annuals for Summer
1. Globe amaranth (bachelor’s button) — an old-fashioned flower. Round flower heads resemble giant clovers. Excellent addition to summer flower arrangements and can easily be dried for use in Victorian dried arrangements.
2. Petunia — today’s varieties not only take our summer heat but they tolerate winter cold and can bloom year around.
3. Sun coleus — a wonderful addition to the old coleus family. As their name implies, these brightly-colored foliage plants can take the sun, whether alone or mixed with other plants in beds or containers. They are surprisingly tough.
4. Sweet potato vine — extremely popular; you can see it nearly everywhere. In chartreuse or black, it creates great color interest. It also makes a super ground cover, pairing well with sun coleus.
5. Zinnia linearis (narrow-leaf zinnia) — drought tolerant and recommended for xeriscaping (landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation). It is a showy plant that thrives in hot, dry climates, alone or mixed with other plants in beds or containers. Zinnias are popular for their easy culture and great variety of flowers. In addition, they attract bees, butterflies and birds. They reseed themselves freely, which is generally considered a plus, but if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season, you must deadhead.
6. Lantana — continuous flowers from April to Thanksgiving with little care, practically thriving on neglect. Locate it at sunny and warm sites for best growth and flowering. You may want to prune it after flowering to remove old stems, or at any time of the year to remove excessive growth and keep tidy. It is extremely resilient and will flower profusely after being cut back or after a growth flush, as it bears flowers on new growth. It is a butterfly magnet!
7. Pentas — in bloom now and until the first hard freeze. You can clip it back in August if it gets too leggy. It attracts butterflies.
8. Geranium — flourish in our hot, dry summers and is hardy down to about 20 degrees. Slugs, which are a hungry nuisance, tend to avoid it. Keep it dead-headed, watered and fertilized for best results.
9. Gloriosa daisy — a magnificent perennial easily grown from seed. With large blossoms of rich golden orange and mahogany red, it continuously flowers in full sun, even in the hottest of summer months and even forgiving of neglect. Its tall flower stems are likely to flop over after rains so you might want to support them. It is an excellent cut flower with a vase life of 7 to 14 days.
Enjoy Your July Yarden
We who are avid yardeners say we are never too old to dig in the dirt but do remember that digging under a July sun requires us to protect our skin, eyes and bodies. Use sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat and drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Then, dig away and revel in the earthly delights of your yarden.
If you have questions that you would like answered in this column, you may email them to email@example.com.
Thomasville Garden Club Inc. welcomes new members. If you are interested, please contact Membership Chair Marge Willis at 226-0711 or any current member. The Garden Center has a library of books about gardening which are available not only to garden club members but to the general public. To access the library or to visit the Garden Center, please contact Ann McKinnon at 226-5291 (the Garden Center telephone number) or any current member. You may contact Pam Wright at 226-2853 if you are interested in renting the Garden Center for an event. The Garden Center is always open to the public on the Wednesday before the first Friday of every month, September through May.
Sponsored by Thomasville Garden Club, Inc.
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