Pat Neasbitt Master Gardener
June is such an amazing month in the garden in Oklahoma. Everything is growing – including lots of weeds. The following tips will help ensure your yard is beautiful and healthy.
• Mulch ornamentals, vegetables, and annuals to reduce soil crusting, regulate temperatures, and slow moisture loss during hot summer temperatures and drying winds. Mulching will reduce up to 80 percent of summer yard maintenance. That means more time to enjoy your yard instead of just working in it.
Control aphids on crepe myrtles and spider mites on tomatoes with a strong spray of water from the hose. Be sure to get underneath leaves where they hang out. Evidence of spider mite damage can be seen as foliage that becomes pale and speckled. Shake a branch over a piece of white paper and watch for tiny red specks that move.
• Watch for the first generation of fall webworms, and remove the webs with a long stick or pole pruner to break the web and expose the worms for the birds to take care of.
• Fertilize warm-season grasses, if needed, at 1 lb. Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Don’t fertilize fescue and other cool-season grasses during the summer.
• Seeding of warm-season grasses should be completed by the end of June (through July for improved varieties such as Riviera and Yukon) to reduce winterkill losses. OSU Factsheet (HLA-6419) will provide detailed information on seeding grass.
• Those yucky white grubs you find while digging in your garden are future June Beetles. They eat the roots of plants, including lawn grasses. I toss them on the ground or put them on the bird feeder for a tasty treat for the birds. The beetles are attracted to lights at night, so turn off all outside lights, if possible,
Fruit and Nut
• Renovate overgrown strawberry beds after the last harvest. Start by setting your lawnmower on its highest setting and mow off the foliage. Next, thin crowns 12 to 24 inches apart. Apply recommended fertilizer and keep watered. OSU Factsheet (HLA-6214)
Trees and Shrubs
• Vigorous, unwanted limbs should be removed or shortened on newly planted trees. Watch for forks in the main trunk and remove the least desirable trunk as soon as it is noticed. OSU Factsheet (HLA-6415)
• If you treat Pine trees for Pine needle disease, it is time for another treatment.
• Remove tree wraps during the summer to avoid potential disease and insect buildup. Leave lower branches on young trees as protection from sunscald and to increase more rapid trunk growth. Plastic, perforated, expandable tree wraps are the only ones that should ever be used from March to November, and they can help somewhat to protect young trees from lawnmower and weed eater damage.
• Don’t make “Mulch Volcanoes” around your trees. They defeat the purpose of applying mulch because water will run away from roots instead of being directed to them. Mulch mounded up against the trunk will invite diseases and insects and can kill your trees. It makes a great home for mice who nibble on the bark; and it looks really stupid, especially if the fake dyed red mulch is used – it looks like giant red ant hills.
• Softwood cuttings from the new growth of many shrubs will root if propagated in a moist shady spot.
• Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) is a virus spread by the tiny eriophyid mite. The signs of Rose Rosette are bright red disfigured new growth (not the same as normal red new growth), rapidly elongated stems, and witches’ brooms, which are sections of multiple stems that are red with distorted leaves and covered with a large number of thorns. At this time there is 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 past the deformed area and discarding it in a plastic trash bag. Be sure to rake all fallen leaves and debris underneath roses. The easiest way to help keep the disease from spreading is to plant roses in different areas of the landscape instead of grouped together in one area or planted as a hedge. Monoculture consisting of many plants together of the same species, is an invitation to disease and insect damage.
• Remove flower stalks on coleus, caladiums, lamb’s ear, and basil before buds open. This will promote new leaf growth.
• Houseplants can be moved outside this month. Sink the pots in a cool, shaded garden bed to prevent them from drying out too quickly.
• Water container plants and hanging baskets often. Monthly fertilizing with seaweed extract, fish emulsion, or compost tea will keep them flowering. A time-release fertilizer is also helpful for container plantings.
• When cutting fresh roses or removing faded ones, cut back to a leaflet facing the outside of the bush to encourage open growth, good air circulation, and continued blooming. Deadhead for continued blooming.
• Deadhead annuals and perennials to keep them blooming until fall.
Dig, divide, and replant spring bulbs that have become too crowded.
• During the summer, soil moisture is essential for good plant 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 if they are 3 – 4 inches deep, depending on the material used. Happy Gardening!