Here’s our summer gardening guide for what you can do and plant in the garden during the heat:
1. Follow Outdoor Water Restrictions During Drought
A hot summer for some regions means outdoor water restrictions are inevitable. If you have a rain barrel, use as much recycled rainwater as you can to water your plants. You can also do your part to save water by giving the soil around your plants a good soak, and then mulching over the top of the soil. The mulch will keep the moisture in the soil, meaning your plants should stay hydrated for longer.
2. Deadhead Roses in Summer
With many plants, it is enough to simply trim off the faded flowers when deadheading. But for best results with roses need you to be a little more ruthless and cut back more of the stem. Any flowers that are past their prime should be cut back to a healthy side shoot, or to a viable bud.
The process is the same for floribunda varieties; cut back entire clusters of flowers to a healthy side shoot, bud or leaf. After deadheading, feed the roses with a rose-specific fertilizer, and they should continue to flower into fall.
3. Dry Flowers to Decorate Indoors
Many flowers can be cut, dried and displayed in your home. For best results, cut the flowers just before they reach their peak, as they will continue to open once they have been cut. Keep the stems as long as possible, tie the flowers in small bunches and hang upside down until completely dried. Be sure to keep the bunches out of bright sunlight, as this can bleach the color and leave the blooms looking faded.
Lavender is extremely easy to hang dry. Once completely dried, strip the flowers from the stems and use them in lavender bags or potpourri to scent your home.
Note on drying herbs: Sage, rosemary and thyme can be dried in the same way and used in cooking. For softer herbs such as chives and parsley, chop the herbs finely, place in ice cube trays and fill with water. To use, simply add the ice cube to the dish you are cooking.
4. Stock Your Pond with Fish
If you are thinking about introducing fish into your pond, a warm summer’s day is a good time to do it. With the pond water warming up, fish will acclimate quickly to their new environment at this time of year. To minimize the stress felt by the fish, transport them from the garden center into your pond as quickly as possible.
Float the bag in the pond for a couple of hours, so that the water temperature inside and outside the bag are the same. Leaving the bag in the water, cut it open and allow the fish to leave the bag of their own accord. This may take seconds, or it may take minutes, but allow them to leave at their leisure.
5. Plant Fall Flowering Crocus
Swathes of fall flowering crocus (Colchicum autumnale) can bring a dash of much-needed color to a garden, at a time when many other plants are beginning to die back. Available in colors from pure white, through lilac, and into deep purple, plant fall-flowering crocus in a flower garden or in the lawn. The bulbs should be planted four inches deep and in full sun (a spot with more than six hours of direct sunlight).
6. Pick and Prune Raspberries
Summer-fruiting raspberries should be ripe enough to pick in July. They are delicious eaten immediately, but they also freeze well if your plants produce more fruit than you can use.
Once you have picked all the fruit, prune the old canes. Old growth can be distinguished from the new as it is browner in color, and the leaves may look slightly damaged. Cut the old canes to ground level and tie the new ones to supports. This new growth will produce fruit next year.
7. Water Your Plants Regularly in July
July is one of the hottest months of the year, so it’s more important than ever to keep on top of your watering routine. If you are going away for vacation, ask a neighbor to water your plants while you’re gone.
8. Start a Fresh Crop of Flowers and Cool Season Vegetables
The warm soil conditions and sunshine of summer are perfect for seed starting. You can refresh some of the plants that might have preferred the cooler temperatures of spring and are looking tired by July. By starting seeds in July, you should have mature plants by the time the heat of summer starts to subside and enjoy flowers and fresh vegetables right up to frost. Consistent watering is critical to succeed with starting plants in July. Plan to check your seedlings to make sure they don’t dry out.
Summer Gardening – What to Plant
Popular vegetables for a second sowing are leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, carrots, bush beans, radishes, and peas.
Perennial plants can be planted or divided in July but it’s better to wait until late summer to minimize heat and potential drought stress on the plants. If you do want to plant perennials in July, just be sure to keep them well-watered.
Your garden should be bursting with flowers, vegetables and fresh herbs in July. This bountiful produce is perfect for thanking neighbors or friends who check on your garden while you are away on vacation. Many people are more than happy to water your plants in exchange for a bouquet of beautiful flowers or a basketful of produce. Best of all, you can be sure your garden will look as good as it possibly can upon your return.
If you have a container garden, here are more ways to water plants in containers while you’re on vacation.