This month in the garden – July



Mid-Atlantic Region

July Maintenance Guide

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July is your reward to many months of gardening efforts.  Whether you vacate to see what the rest of the gardening world is doing or staycate to reap your rewards with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, either way, now is the time to put down your trowel to travel and tour!


  • Cut back summer annuals so they don’t become leggy.  A good time to do this is right before you go on vacation. You will be gone, thus missing the unsightliness of the haircut. This will help the plants look good through the fall.
  • Petunias will benefit from a summer pinch.  By removing an inch or two from the ends of the stems throughout the summer, encourages branching, resulting in a bushier plant.
  • Cleome, cosmos and zinnias, can still be planted or sown for continuous blooms ‘til frost.


  • Bulb catalogues are arriving.  Many pages of many catalogues sitting in the table of my reading are dog eared.
  • On my summer flowering bulb list are: Calla lily (Zantedeschia), canna, Crinum lily, Liatris (at least the one the bunny missed), Asiatic lily, Oriental lily, and tuberose.


  • Harvest Provence lavender.  Cut stems, bundle, hang upside down and in a dark, dry place.  Within 2 weeks, the florets will easily fall from the stems.  To make lavender sugar, grind dried florets in a coffee grinder and mix with sugar.
  • Cut back basil to keep from going to seed.  Don’t forget to use it!
  • Keep oregano cut back to keep from going to seed.

JuneGBBD 080


  • Continue to deadhead to tidy the garden and encourage more flowering.  There are many perennials grown for the wildlife so don’t be to tidy;  leave some seed heads.  Not only will the birds enjoy the seed, you will enjoy watching them retrieve the seed.
  • Perennials that benefit most from deadheading include bee-balm, black-eyed Susan, daylilies, coneflowers, salvia, Stoke’s aster, yarrow. Also Coreopsis will benefit from a shearing to encourage a second bloom.
  • Garden centers may have reduced prices on earlier blooming perennials. A great opportunity to save some money, but this is not a good time to plant.  If you proceed, provide extra nurturing (and watering) until established.
  • As a butterfly gardener, a purple coneflower is a staple in my Mixed Border.  Even if I was just gardening for the flowers, Echinacea purpurea would be at the top of my list of must have plants.  There is now a wide range of colors – ‘Sunrise’, Sundown’, Twilight’, Harvest Moon’, Summer Sky’, ‘After Midnight’ and more. Sadly, the bunnies find all the colors tasty.
  • Did you know there is no research showing that English Ivy climbing up your trees will actually harm the tree?  It is not one of my favorite looks and I encourage others to keep it from climbing.  If you want to remove it, cut it at the base and wait a year or so for it to die back before pulling it off; otherwise, removing it will harm the tree (taking bark with it.)   When it climbs, the adult ivy forms.  Here is where it seeds and makes more ivy.  If not able to climb, it will spread, but can more easily be kept in check.  Just keep an eye on it.

JuneGBBD 056c

  • Perennials

The first year they sleep

The second year they creep

The third year they leap

Author unknown


  • This is not a good time for planting trees and shrubs.  If you find some good deals at the garden center, by all means purchase.  But wait until fall for planting.
  • As the new growth emerges on your specimen conifer, candle-prune to maintain the shape.


Pink PeacePink Peace

  • It’s Japanese beetle time!  They are attracted to the color.  To discourage this, keep the roses “in the green” whereby cutting your roses for our enjoyment indoors.  I hand pick Japanese beetles off the plant and drop into a bucket of soapy water.
  • Water your roses deeply to encourage a deep root system.  At Helen’s Haven, I have the upper garden’s French drain empty here.  In effect, it’s a rain garden, but with supplemental watering in the absence of natural rainfall.  The hotter it is, the more water roses require.
  • To reduce fungal disease such a black stop, avoid watering the leaves.  Of course, there is nothing you can do to prevent this when a summer rain falls.
  • Ensure the roses are mulched to help retain moisture.
  • Prune climbers and ramblers that bloom once on last year’s growth.  Thin out dead canes.


  • As you added annuals and perennials up to now, the spring mulch has no doubt been disturbed.  Now is a good time to do an abbreviated mulching to tidy up the disturbed areas.  But of course, the best reason to do so is to retain moisture, particular for these new plantings until they are established.


  • The best advice anyone can give you with regards to weeds, pull them when you see them.  Walk your garden often.  Enjoy the journey and pull a weed when you see it.  It keeps weeds in check and saves you from having to tackle a major problem latter.
  • Like a grey hair, every weed you pull, three grow back – or so it seems.


  • Bagworms abound! Bagworms can be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Manteo 2009 187


As summer begins, so do summer vacations.  This also arises the need to have your garden looked after while you are gone!  When preparing to go on summer vacation, there are three main areas in the garden the elicit attention:  Container gardens, plants in the garden not yet established, and plants in the established garden.


There is no need not to have container gardens just because you are going on vacation and don’t want to be bothered.  Why let a week or two away keep you from coming home to some nice plantings?  Here are some tips to caring for your container gardens and houseplants while you are on vacation.  These tips are for those with and without automatic irrigation systems.

  • Bring houseplants outside under the cool of the porch or eves of the house.
  • Get a neighbor kid to come over everyday to check on things and to water.  Most pots will need watering everyday.
  • Pool you pots together near a water source and out of the afternoon sun.
  • Add extra mulch to the base of the plant.
  • Add water lines to your containers from your irrigation system.
  • Don’t have an irrigation system?  The garden centers and big box stores sell automatic systems that hook up to your spigot.  These systems are easy to install, include a timer to turn on the water a certain time(s) of the day and for a dialed in duration.


  • The neighborhood kid or friend will be a big help while you are gone.  In the absence of automatic irrigation, caring for the garden while you are away is a little trickery.  For your convenience and to aid the person helping while you are gone, marking the plants yet to be established, thus needing additional attention, will be important.  Clearly mark the plant with a survey flag.  This will help remind you and your care giver who needs a drink while you are gone.


  • Most established gardens should survive a week without watering.  Most years, the concern is with container plants and plants that have yet to establish, both concerns are addressed above.
  • Even in an established bed, some plants will require more attention than others.  One of the best ways to learn when you’re your garden needs watering is to identify an “indicator plant.”  An indicator plant is usually one of your garden’s the thirsty-er plants.  For my garden, Helen’s Haven, it’s an Endless Summer Hydrangea.  If my indicator is looking thirsty (wilted) in the morning, it needs water.  As such, I would then direct the caregiver to water while I am away.  If not, then you should be good to go.  It should also be noted that this same plant may look wilted in the last afternoon, but this is not a true indication.  Have them check it again in the morning.  If not wilted, then it is fine

It is also a good idea before you leave to weed, deadhead, and water everything thoroughly.


  • Continue to fill feeders, provide clean water daily, and refresh hummingbird feeders with fresh sugar water.

Formula for hummingbird nectar:  4 parts water, one part sugar.  Heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Once cooled, fill feeders.  Nectar can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week.  Change the feeder nectar often, daily when temperatures reach the upper 80s.

Maintenance guide and photos by

Helen Yoest

Gardening With Confidence



  1. tina said

    June 25, 2009 @ 10:19 am · EditExcellent tips. I like the gray hair simile. It must be why I have so many:)

    When are you posting on your visit with Janet, Racquel and Les?

  2. June 25, 2009 @ 11:15 am · EditHey Tina, with regards to weeds and gray hairs, maybe we should stop pulling them. How bad can it get? Never mind, I just had an imagine of weeds EVERYWHERE!

    I’ll post the visit with Janet, Racquel and Les during my Sunday puttering post. Since returning from my scouting trip, I am behind – as in a big behind not even my big purse can hide! I have 3 deadlines waiting first!


  3. Racquel said

    June 25, 2009 @ 1:12 pm · EditWhat a great information post Helen. Thanks for all the tips & reminders. It gets so hot at this time of the year sometimes I forget. ;)

  4. Janet said

    June 25, 2009 @ 1:25 pm · EditHi Helen, good tips…..summer is when my garden explodes!! Guess I should at least deadhead some stuff in the early mornings.

  5. June 25, 2009 @ 1:59 pm · EditHey Racquel and Janet, boy do I love to dish out the tips, but right now, I’m having trouble getting my air conditioned self out there doing it. There’s always this evening!

    I went to this most amazing garden during my Virginia/Outer Banks scouting trip. She had thousands of daylilies (more than 500 varieties) and EVERYONE was deadheaded. I bowed to her greatness and wanted to hang with her all day long. I make not bones about being a tidy gardener, but when I saw this maintenance poster child, it confirmed it all the more, maintenance matters! H.

  6. June 25, 2009 @ 10:20 pm · EditYou know I like these post. Love your Cleome and agree that July is our reward for working hard.

  7. Jesslyn said

    June 25, 2009 @ 11:57 pm · Editcool tips tina!!

    the pink peace rose is beautiful

    thx a lot for sharing..

    GooD Day

    Jesslyn Tanady

    All Gardening Secret



  1. […] Read the original: This month in the garden ? July ? Gardening With Confidence ? […]

  2. Kay West said

    Helen, So enjoyed your talk tonight at our Garden Club. Most informative. And love your guide to what to do in the garden by the month. Great tips. Thanks for all you do!

  3. Thanks Kay! It is a good group and I enjoyed meeting you. H.

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