The June temperatures have wreaked havoc on many gardens this summer, but one area master gardener offers some tips to keep plants blooming long after the summer heat subsides.
First to consider is watering. Plants should be watered once or twice per week to encourage the roots to grow deeper, said Ginny Allen. More frequent watering leads to shallow roots that grow closer to the top of the soil.
"Use mulch to conserve water," said Allen, who also suggests not watering during the hottest parts of the day.
"Do not expect cool-weather plants, such as snapdragons, petunias and dianthus, to be happy in our hot weather," she said. "Many plants shut down when it gets to 90 degrees."
For plants in containers, Allen suggests watering them at least twice per day.
But what about those plants that have been so beautiful and showy during May and early June and are now looking scraggly and not so appealing?
"Pinch back dead blooms to encourage more blooms," said Allen. "If plants get really leggy, try shearing them back by one-third."
Most people want to give their plants an extra boost when they start losing blooms. Allen suggests forgoing fertilizer right now.
"Too much fertilizer when plants are stressed by heat can cause them to burn and turn yellow or die," she said.
For individuals just planting their garden, Allen encourages the use of a good potting soil, which will help plants deal with heat stress. Stagger sowing seeds -- approximately two weeks apart -- for a longer bloom season and remember that some annuals, such as coleus and impatiens, need partial shade. Heat-tolerant plants include sunflowers, zinnias, portulaca, cleome and cosmos.
With a little extra TLC during the hot days ahead, gardens can be a source of pride now and into the fall.
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