Gardening Basics

The Mid-Summer Gardening Refresh

By Sarah Marcheschi

So, you got everything planted by Memorial Day. You watered, weeded, and fertilized. By the 4thof July the containers were lush, the perennials were in bloom, and your annuals were turning heads. In the weeks that follow, temperature climbed, the days were humid, and the nights, well, let’s just say the humidity was insufferable. What’s more, if you were gardening in my neck of the woods, you long since ran out of body parts for new bug bites.

Come late July, not only has your enthusiasm waned but even the plants are growing weary. In fact, they’re busy putting their energy into producing fruit and setting seeds, not in sending up show stopping blooms. It’s time for the mid-summer gardening refresh.

What is the mid-summer gardening refresh? Just follow this five step process: weeding, deadheading, mulching, staking, and adding some new plants.

Start the Mid-Summer Gardening Refresh with Weeding

Perhaps you headed up to the lake for a week. If you are like me, when you returned you couldn’t find your perennial borders anymore. It’s amazing how fast weeds can grow in just a week! There really is no way to sugar coat this one, you need to get out there and weed. Set aside a morning and just go for it. Sure, it’s easy to make excuses. My personal favorites – it’s too hot, it’s too rainy or it’s too sunny. But, the longer you ignore this problem, the worse it gets. You’ve got to regroup and counterattack. The takeback should be sudden and with no mercy! Eradicate them, now! Do it before they have a chance to set seeds. Otherwise, you’ll be confronted with a the new and larger crop of weeds next year.

Mid-Summer Is the Time for Deadheading

For myself, I find that sometimes mindless tasks are just what the doctor ordered. Especially when it’s end of July, and 95 degrees in the shade. The less I have to think about the better – other than swimming pools and cool drinks, of course. Deadheading can be a kind of therapeutic process, and maybe even better, it provides a sense of accomplishment.

‘I spent the morning gardening!’ I can announce to myself. When I return to the house for a snack, and pass the bathroom mirror, I take pleasure in seeing my hot, sweaty face. ‘You betcha,’ I think! Strolling around the garden, coffee cup in hand, plucking off dead flowers long since shriveled by the sun, counts as gardening. Indeed, it is an essential step if you want plants to be healthy. And, who doesn’t want to have a cultivated, well-cared for look in the remaining summer months.

Perennials, and some annuals too, respond so well to deadheading that they will offer a new flush of vigorous growth after being pruned back a bit. Removing spent blooms from perennials like catmint, bee balm, and purple coneflower not only keeps the plants from looking unkempt, but it often triggers new growth. Some annuals, such as zinnias, can be cut over and over, In fact, there is even a variety called ‘Cut and Come Again’. Use blooms for your indoor flower arranging!

Deadheading Petunias – photo by Sarah Marcheschi

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