Monday, July 18, 2016

How is Your Garden Doing This Summer?

Lotus are beginning to bloom
Summer arrived this year after a long, cool, wet, spring. Temperatures are up, flowers are looking beautiful and our gardens are bringing us the joy and tranquility we can escape to now and then. So, now what? To keep plants looking good, here are some tips from some of my coworkers and customers.

Use mulch as a weed barrier and a way to keep plants from drying out. Don't over do it; Jen keeps mulch at just 1-2 inches deep in her perennial/pollinator garden.
What a great garden for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds!

Combine plants in containers that have similar sunlight, water and fertilizer needs. Joann's planting of caladiums and New Guinea impatiens offers bold foliage and color for an area with part shade.
Wow! Love these caladiums!

Beware the summer storm. A surprise storm in Middle River last night wreaked havoc on Scott's garden. Today, Scott is expecting scores of people at his home for a party. A morning of clean-up is on his agenda. He is proactive and has kept trees trimmed so that leaf and limb loss was limited.
The yard was back in shape by party-time

Have a pond? My friend Jan works for a company that has a water garden at their entrance. Look at these gorgeous lotus flowers! Add plants to ponds and water features; they filter the water to keep it clear. Add koi and other fish to keep mosquito larvae under control.
Lotus blooms and the unique them!

Harvest early and often. Sheila picked her peaches and herbs earlier this week. How great it is to provide food for your own table? Herbs grow in poor soil, usually in full sun and are better when they are cut back often.
How much fresher can you get? 
Eric has a yard so filled with flowers that there isn't room for weeds to grow! The Madagascar palm in the foreground serves as a focal point to other plants in the garden.
Eric is addicted to plants like the rest of us
Jennifer is a Maryland Master Gardeners, as well as a Valley View Farms plant expert. This is her new raised bed vegetable garden. Once again, mulch serves as a weed block. Look at the various materials Jen has incorporated to have vertical growth in her garden. Vines, vegetable or ornamental, create vertical interest, and allow for better air circulation around the plants. Pallets serve as structure for compost.
That's a lot of work! It's sure to be very rewarding.
Sue, her husband Charles and twenty-six other residents all garden on the fifth floor of  the Edenwald community. By summer's end, mandevillas and other vines cover the built-in trellises. Summer color abounds with the use of petunias, vinca, calibrachoa and other favorite annuals. Charles and his helpers have all the planter boxes on irrigation, providing fertilizer and water all season.
26 of these large planter boxes are displayed on a 5th floor patio

As do several of these round planters
Hostas and a small statue create a shady respite in Joann's garden. We all preach about "right plant, right place" to keep our gardens healthy.
Foliage is fun too!

We trial many plants in our gardens; here is a new coleus and white annual daisy that I'm trying at home. New plants create excitement, but we make sure that they grow successfully before carrying them in our store.
Seems to be a good year for lantana and sun-loving coleus
Many tropical plants survive indoors in the winter, but thrive in our hot, humid conditions outside. Here are some of Jen's citrus and other tropicals on vacation out on the patio. When they transition back to indoors, give them time to acclimate and provide them with plenty of humidity.
Jen's tropical plants are enjoying life outside on the patio

To keep plants healthy and blooming:

  1. Deadhead by removing spent flowers. This encourages annuals and most perennials to keep blooming.
  2. Water at the root zone of the plant. Less evaporation of water and avoiding the leaves of most plants is key to maintaining healthy root systems and foliage.
  3. Water deeply and less often. Encourage roots to grow deeper in search of water. Frequent watering keeps roots at a shallow depth.
  4. Mulch lightly to discourage weeds, even-out moisture and provide a finished look until plants fill in.
  5. Use tree gators, watering bags specifically for trees, especially during our expected heat wave
  6. A right plant, right place approach will help to eliminate problems before they start. For example, choose plants for sun exposure, water needs, and disease and deer resistance.
  7. Prune dead or diseased trees to keep them from becoming a problem later with summer (or winter) storms.
  8. Manage the garden by walking around and taking pictures or notes of successes and challenges. Many times, insect or disease problems can be taken care of early.
  9. Be careful of standing water. Empty old pots, tires or other reservoirs. Keep water moving or keep fish in ponds. Use safe products like Mosquito Dunks in birdbaths to control mosquito larvae.
  10. Potted plants should be checked daily for water, and fed often to keep plants green and blooming.
Please feel free to share photos of your garden this summer. We look forward to a sunny days and time spent enjoying our plantings.