The first week of June finds our summer heat in full swing, ushering in a month of transition in our gardens. Spring bloomers that have been so spectacular will fade quickly and die. Just this week my pansies died, snapdragons have faded and are going into their summer hiatus, and the dusty miller is bolting into summer seed. The spring garden is over, but there is good garden news.
Summer plants are the cold-blooded reptiles of the plant world! Flowers like zinnias, dahlias, and passion vines need the heat of summer to get off to a good start. Summer vegetables like squash, peppers, and eggplants need to be warm in order to set fruit properly. Tomato plants dislike temperatures below 50 degrees.
Of the heat-loving shrubs, Spanish broom is the first to erupt with its fragrant bloom; butterfly bushes and yellow blooming potentilla will follow shortly. This is the preferred season to plant these summer blooming shrubs.
Perennial, drought hardy, flowering western natives also prefer to be planted in summer. Successful planting and yearly blooms are certain with natives like manzanita, Apache plume, and the evergreen sugar bush. It’s common knowledge that it is easy to over-water these super low water users. However, summer heat quickly dries out these drought hardy plants giving them a chance to breath between doses of irrigation. The arrival of warmth this week sparked many of these plants at the garden center to set buds and/or go into color.
This long-winded introduction is in answer to Cindy’s question from earlier this week: “Is it too late to plant in the garden?” Obviously, the answer is: “No!” This is the ideal time to plant summer heat lovers. Plant now and you will find that these new plants will catch up quickly and fruit at the same time as your neighbors’ earlier plantings.
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June is recognized as perennial month. Perennials are those plants that come back bigger and stronger every year. Planted once, their periods of bloom return for years of enjoyment. During April and May is the post-winter planting frenzy when gardeners are shopping for plants already in colorful bloom. This also is the time when most perennial varieties are waking from their dormant states. Consequently, many gardeners miss the entire perennial experience because few of these garden anchors are showing color.
Reading a dirty plant tag on a perennial is difficult and the tiny picture hardly identifies how the plant will appear when in flower. It is far easier to decide which bloomers to plant when they are in full bloom and emitting their respective fragrances. As June is when most perennial bloomers pop their buds and begin flowering, without any doubt, this is the month I like to plant perennials.
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Garden Alert! When we hosted graduation parties in our garden just a few days ago, my roses were stunning and fragrant. This week spider mites have sucked the life out of these same bloomers. These pests are making their appearance early this year, and the damage threatens to be far worse than in the past. You will never see an actual mite, but evidence of their presence are plants that look dusty with a copper overtone on the leaves. Also, very fine webbing can be seen, especially at the tips of the foliage and the under side of flower buds. Affected plants will stop blooming and start dropping leaves.
Watters’ specially designed ‘Multi Purpose Insect Control’ is the solution. Spritz this liquid bug control over the entire plant. Most of the mites die on contact, and the few that do survive digest parts of the sprayed foliage and die later in the day. Respray at 10-day intervals until symptoms are alleviated and new growth appears.
You are well advised to walk the garden this week and check your roses, junipers, and Alberta spruce to look for symptoms. Damage from these pests is serious; plants can and will die from a spider mite infestation. Catch the damage early and plants can recover quickly.
Designer Wednesdays with Rich Olson. Sedona landscape designer Rich Olson will set up shop here at Watters Garden Center every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. His first half hour of professional advice is free, including his digitally enhanced photos of your landscape. This is an exceptional opportunity to address those difficult-to-design spots in your landscape. Rich also can do full scale landscapes with overlapping irrigation and lighting plans.
Homeowner’s testimony – “Ken and I redesigned our front yard last year with Rich’s help. We had some ideas, but he professionally laid our ideas on paper and made is easier to bid the new patio installation. The lawn is gone and our front yard is the envy of the neighborhood.”
~ Lisa Lain
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/watters1815