How Does Your Garden Grow?: July checklist

Now that summer is in full swing, here’s some things to keep in mind this month in the garden.

Tree and shrub care

Monitor newly planted trees and shrubs. It is important during hot weather that these new plants have at least 1 inch of water a week to keep their root zones healthy.

Check apple, apricot, crabapple, peach and plum trees for sucker growth at ground level. Remove any suckers that are present.

If your forsythia, lilac or red-twig dogwood are old and experiencing poorer flower display, they would benefit from a renovation pruning by removing 1/3 of the oldest canes.

Rose care

Continue to deadhead roses and cut back to the first set of five leaves.

In July, it is time for the third and final rose fertilization at the end of the month. Fertilize with a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer.

Do not fertilize after Aug. 1.

Annual and perennial care

In July, we may be experiencing hot, windy weather. Annual containers and hanging basket will need more attention this month. Additional water and a half-strength balanced fertilizer will keep your annuals healthy. If your annuals in baskets and containers are suffering from the heat, remember that they can be moved to a part shady location.

Removing flower spikes from some of your early-blooming perennials will encourage a second, late-summer bloom. Perennials that respond to this type of pruning include catmints, decorative geraniums, delphiniums and salvias. Re-blooming daylilies and iris will also benefit from having early stems removed following first bloom.

Until mid-July, keep pinching out asters, mums and tall sedums to help the plant form a more compact structure.

For those of you who favor a low-maintenance garden environment, both annual and perennial grasses are great easy care additions to your landscape.

Lawn care

Mow grass at a higher level, 2 1/2 to 3 inches during the hot summer.

Do not fertilize in the summer.

Avoid herbicide use in hot temperatures.

Fruit, vegetable and herb care

An even supply of moisture is the key to keeping your tomatoes happy. Straw mulch can be helpful in your tomato care.

Harvest herbs to use fresh or dry or freeze them. Retain essential oil and flavor by pinching off flowers.

Beans, broccoli, cabbage, cool-season lettuces and spinach seed can be sown at the end of the month.

July tip

As gardeners we look forward to checking out the new catalogs and buying new plants in the spring. That’s the fun part. Sometimes we overlook the basic steps needed for keeping our gardens successful year after year. Let’s take a minute to look at recommendations from the University of Illinois for improving home gardens.

1) Know your soil. Add organic material if nutrients are missing. Loose, fertile, well-drained soil is your goal.

2) Know your plants. Research your plant for information about it. Learn to choose the right plant for the right location and right exposure.

3) Know what diseases and insects can influence the success of your plants. Buy resistant varieties when possible.

4) Know that keeping a record of your successes and mistakes for this year will lead to better results next year.

Following these few basic steps can easily head you toward more continued success with your home gardens.

• The Master Gardener Help Desk, located in the Farm Bureau building at 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore, is open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Gardeners with questions can walk in, email or call 815-758-8194.