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Master Gardener: July gardening notes

Annuals. Deadhead spent blooms. cut leggy annuals back to rejuvenate. Do this by cutting back every other plant by one-half. As plants fill back out, cut the remaining stems back.

Perennials. Deadhead. Weed flowerbeds regularly. Keep soil moist, not soggy, around ferns. Avoid letting ferns get too dry as they will go dormant. Cut bouquets to extend the enjoyment of your flowers indoors. Divide irises this month.

Roses. Prune lightly to encourage fall bloom. Continue spraying for black spot. Use a store-purchased fungicide or make your own: four teaspoons baking soda and one teaspoon liquid soap or vegetable oil per gallon of wator.

Trees and Shrubs. Substantial rainfall received from earlier spring rains needs to be supplemented with continued deep, thorough watering, at least the equivalent of an inch a week. Prune hydrangeas later this month. As soon as the blooms begin to fade, remove some of the older canes at soil level. This reduces plant size and encourages growth of new canes.

General Yard. Turn and dampen the compost pile often, otherwise pests like flies will attempt to breed in the clippings. Mulch azaleas and rhododendrons to keep their shallow roots cool. Remove suckers from roses, azaleas, camellia, rhododendron, etc., as they appear. Cut back shoots of wisteria.

Fruit Trees/Small Fruits. Harvest rabbiteye blueberries, blackberries and peaches. Keep fruit-bearing canes consistently watered throughout summer. Remove old canes once they have ceased production. Thin fruit from heavily laden trees. Keep grass under fruit trees short as it deprives the trees of nitrogen. Clean up any fruit you find that has been affected by scab.

Lawns. Lawns need at least an inch of water weekly to thrive. If you have to do supplemental watering, do so following local water rationing initiatives that may be in effect. More attention needs to be paid to raised beds and plants in containers. Raise mower height for the summer. Mow centipede to two inches, Kentucky bluegrass to two or three inches, Zoysia to two inches, St. Augustine from two to four inches, common Bermuda to two inches and improve Bermuda to one inch. If you catch the clippings, add them to the compost pile. Do not compost clippings taken after a weed treatment.

Vegetables. The premature rise to excessively high daytime and nighttime temperatures delayed production for most gardens. With a drop in temperatures will come an increase in production. Spray any pesticides you must use early in the day to avoid killing as many beneficial insects as possible. Plants should be sufficiently hydrated before such spraying. Now is the time to start the fall garden. Clip the flower stalks off garlic. It can be harvested once the leaves are brown.

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