June makes gardening look easy—like we’ve totally got this. (We do.) If the heat and humidity hold off, we’ll barely have to break a sweat to accomplish the most urgent tasks: to stop and smell the roses and accept compliments. But a temperate June is also when we polish the garden’s draft. A few additions to the to-do list and a little attention to detail will reward us with a bumper crop of beauty well into the more challenging months of high summer and fall.
Plant and arrange your container garden. Use fresh potting soil mixed with an organic, slow-release fertilizer. Try using just one plant or species per pot, which will allow you to easily rotate bloomers in and out of the focus as needed.
For mixed containers, group plants by cultural requirements. In other words, the amount of sun and water needed for optimal health should be the same for everything in the pot. For longer-lasting containers, resist the urge to overplant.
Finish planting annuals and tender perennials. Plant dahlia tubers and starts if you haven’t already done so. You can sow a succession of quick-germinating annual seeds, such as cosmos and zinnias, into mid-July for a late-season show.
Raise the stakes. To prevent root damage, sink stakes alongside any starts that will need support later in the season as they grow to top-heavy maturity. For a wild, less-structured look, use small-caliper branches saved from early spring tree pruning.
Mulch bare soil to conserve moisture. After planting, cover all bare soil with a 1- to 2-inch layer of light mulch such as shredded leaves or buckwheat hulls. While heavy bark mulch may prevent some weed germination, it also limits rain infiltration and promotes mold growth and stem rot.
Do the Chelsea Chop one more time before Father’s Day. Pinch Korean chrysanthemums such as ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’ (Chrysanthemum ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’, Zones 5–9) and Montauk daisies (Nipponanthemum nipponicum, Zones 5–9) to prevent legginess and bald crowns.
Kristin Green is a former horticulturalist for the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, & Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island.
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