Pat Neasbitt master gardener
June is such an amazing month to garden in Oklahoma. Everything grows – including lots of weeds. The following tips will help ensure your garden is beautiful and healthy.
• Mulch ornamentals, vegetables and annuals to reduce soil crusting, regulate temperatures and slow moisture loss in hot summer temperatures and drying winds. Mulching reduces up to 80 percent of summer garden maintenance. That means more time enjoying your garden instead of just working in it.
· Fight aphids on crape myrtle and spider mites on tomatoes with a strong jet of water from the hose. Make sure you get under the leaves where they hang. Signs of spider mite damage can be seen as leaves that become pale and mottled. Shake a branch over a piece of white paper and look for small red dots that move.
• Watch out for the first generation of spider web worms and use a long stick or pruner to remove the webs to break the web and expose the worms for the birds to tend to.
• Fertilize warm season grasses at 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet as needed. Don’t fertilize fescue and other cool-season grasses in the summer.
• Sowing of warm season grasses should be completed by the end of June (by July for improved varieties such as Riviera and Yukon) to reduce losses from winter kill. The OSU Factsheet (HLA-6419) provides detailed information on sowing grass.
• Those nasty white maggots you find digging in your garden are future June beetles. They eat the roots of plants, including lawn grasses. I throw them on the ground or put them on the bird feeder as a treat for the birds. At night, the bugs are attracted to light, so turn off all outside lights if possible
fruit and nut
• Renovate overgrown strawberry beds after the last harvest. First set your lawn mower to the highest level and mow the leaves. Next, thin crowns spaced 12 to 24 inches apart. Apply the recommended fertilizer and keep it watered. OSU Datasheet (HLA-6214)
trees and shrubs
• Heavy, unwanted branches should be removed or trimmed from newly planted trees. Watch out for forks in the main stem and remove the least desirable stem as soon as it is noticed. OSU Data Sheet (HLA-6415)
• If you’re treating pine trees for pine needle disease, it’s time for another treatment.
• In summer, remove tree coverings to avoid potential disease and insect accumulation. Leave lower branches on young trees to protect against sunburn and to encourage faster trunk growth. Perforated, stretchable plastic tree wraps are the only ones that should ever be used from March through November, and they can do something to protect young trees from damage caused by lawn mowers and weed eaters.
• Don’t build “mulch volcanoes” around your trees. They defeat the purpose of mulching because the water runs away from the roots instead of being directed towards them. Mulch accumulated on the trunk invites diseases and insects and can kill your trees. It’s a great home for mice to nibble on the bark; and it looks really dope, especially when the wrong red colored mulch is used – it looks like giant red anthills.
• Softwood cuttings from the new shoots of many shrubs root when propagated in a moist, shady place.
• Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) is a virus carried by the tiny Eriophyid mite. The signs of the rose rosette are bright red mangled new growth (not the same as normal red new growth), rapidly elongating stems, and witches’ brooms, which are sections of multiple stems that are red with distorted leaves and covered with a large number of thorns. There is currently no known treatment for this disease other than digging up and destroying the entire plant. If it only affects one branch, you can try cutting it off behind the deformed area and throwing it in a plastic trash bag. Be sure to rake any fallen leaves and debris from under the roses. The easiest way to prevent the spread of the disease is to plant roses in different areas of the landscape rather than grouping them in one area or planting them as a hedge. A monoculture consisting of many plants of the same species is an invitation to disease and insect damage.
• Remove flower stalks on coleus, caladiums, lamb’s ears and basil before buds open. This encourages the growth of new leaves.
• Indoor plants can be brought outside this month. Place the pots in a cool, shady garden bed so they don’t dry out too quickly.
• Water potted plants and hanging baskets frequently. A monthly fertilization with algae extract, fish emulsion or compost tea will keep them in bloom. A long-term fertilizer is also helpful for container plantings.
• When pruning fresh roses or removing wilted ones, prune back to a leaf that faces the outside of the bush to encourage open growth, good air circulation and continued flowering. Deadhead for continued flowering.
• Dead annuals and perennials so that they flower until autumn.
· Dig up, divide and replant too many spring onions.
• In summer, soil moisture is essential for good crop production. The best way to conserve moisture is mulching. A good mulch not only retains valuable moisture needed for plant growth, but also improves overall gardening success. Mulches work best when they are 3-4 inches deep, depending on the material used. Happy gardening!