Mid-summer horticulture tips from the Garden Club of Virginia.
The mid-summer garden is alive with birds and insect life, and on sultry summer evenings the fireflies gather in the dwindling light. As the summer progresses, perennials take center stage. Heat and rain can induce rampant growth, giving the garden an attractive exuberance. With simple maintenance, you can keep it looking its best.
Cut out faded flowers’ heads—removing the spent blooms helps produce more, thus improving the look of your borders. Cut back to the next bud or set of leaves.
Some plants need a haircut this time of year. The most common hydrangeas (macrophylla) bloom from old growth, so when cutting them for arrangements, do so right after they bloom to avoid shearing off next summer’s flowers. Cut back blue salvia and silver-leaved dianthus by a third to encourage fresh growth. When picking lilies, leave at least half of the foliage to nurture the bulb.
Cascading pots on balconies and patios can provide instant impact. Geraniums, herbs and coleus produce dramatic garden color with minimal effort and create an eye-catching summer display. Remember to water several times a week and feed every week or two with a liquid fertilizer to maintain their appearance.
Mulch and Water
Water in the morning or evening, not in the middle of the day when the sun is blazing. Aim for the base of the plant, close to the roots—avoiding the leaves could help prevent disease. Water deeply and thoroughly, especially new plantings. If you didn’t mulch in the spring, a 2” layer can reduce weed issues, preserve moisture and give your garden a tidier appearance.
Virginia is rich in natural beauty. Here are a few public gardens to tour for ideas and inspiration:
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond LewisGinter.org
Maymont, Richmond Maymont.org/Estate/Gardens
Norfolk Botanical Garden, Norfolk NorfolkBotanicalGarden.org
Green Springs, Fairfax FairFaxCounty.gov/Parks/GreenSpring
Oatlands, Leesburg Oatlands.org
Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg GraveGarden.org
Belmont, Fredericksburg GariMelchers.umw.edu/Gari-Melchers/Historic-House/Restored-Gardens