Independence Day is uniquely popular for outdoor activities: socializing, grilling, pool parties, and of course fireworks. Do you have fireworks going off in your garden? You should! The outdoor garden area can be one of the most popular gathering places for your friends and family. Many many summer plants are just absolutely exploding with color right now!
Crape myrtles in particular are showing off their blooms with a dizzying display of color. If you’re interested in planting one, it is the perfect time to select the exact color you want as they are all in bloom at the nursery right now. Here in North Texas almost every crape myrtle you choose will be freeze tolerant for any weather we get with few exceptions. If your crape myrtle is not blooming or even showing substantial dead branches and trunks, AND is shooting up abundant new growth from the ground it has likely suffered from freeze damage. The best action may be to cut away the dead and then cultivate new growth from the ground up. The same applies if your crape myrtles have been “topped.” Topping a crape myrtle results in ugly looking knots at the tops of the tree. There is no way to correct this, other than to cut it down to the ground (in the winter!) and then await the vigorous flush of new growth that will come out at the first hint of warmer weather.
If tomatoes are your thing they should be ready for the last summer harvest now. In this intense summer heat they will likely stop producing. Most tomato varieties require temperatures at night to fall below 75° in order to set fruit, although there are exceptions. The ever popular cherry tomato can produce amazing crops of fruit throughout the summer. Other varieties include the Heatmaster tomato and the Phoenix tomato. Regardless of what you’re growing, tomatoes in the summer are water intensive. They should be deeply watered in the summer heat, but make sure the soil is well drained. As much as they like the water they don’t like roots that stay constantly wet. You can encourage them further with some shade cloth set up to block the blazing afternoon sun. Some growers even use misters to cool the air through evaporative cooling. If your dream is to cultivate hot summer tomatoes be aware that, unless you’re on well water, you’ll see a marked increase in your water bill!
Any pruning on oaks should be done this month. This is the safest time to prune oak species as the deadly oak wilt fungus is inactive. Any shade trees with low hanging branches can also be cut back. Sometimes these low hangers don’t reveal themselves in the winter dormant season when we would like to prune. They wait until they are burdened with the weight of an abundance of leaves. It won’t hurt to take down one or two of those low hanging branches right now, just don’t go overboard with the pruning. Generally speaking this is the wrong time of year to prune any trees. Now is the time these trees use all the sunlight collected by their leaves to build up reserves, and we want to avoid requiring them to divert energy to healing a wound when they should be at the peak of their growing season.
If you have hanging baskets or container gardens it’s time to add a little slow release fertilizer. Potting soil is a fantastic medium for plants, but it contains very little nutritional value. Your potted plants need those additional feedings of fertilizer that your in ground plantings get from compost and mulch. If you have flowering plants, a simple rose food fertilizer is excellent.
Of course all this heat means that proper irrigation and watering is more important than ever. Don’t think that you have to water too often: it is more important to water deeply than to water frequently. Most North Texans (with a few exceptions) have a heavy clay soil that cannot absorb as much water as we would like all at once. If you’re seeing runoff onto the sidewalks, driveways, etc. then you are watering more than the soil can absorb. In these cases you will need to cycle your waterings. This means that you will water a short cycle, wait for it to be absorbed, and then water another short cycle. Lather rinse and repeat as many times as it takes for the clay soil to absorb water at least 4-6 inches down. Most modern sprinkler timers are able to be programmed in this way. If yours is older, consider upgrading the controller. Newer digital controllers are easy to program and can be controlled from your phone from anywhere. You can also add a soil moisture meter that will automatically tell your irrigation controller when the soil is too dry.
Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.
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