BY BARBARA STORZ
With temperatures reaching 100 degrees and beyond, our gardens need a bit of help to get through the summer.
>> Make sure you have 3 inches of organic mulch on flower beds. This keeps down weeds that will compete for water and nutrients and the mulch will help to retain valuable soil moisture. I like to use woodchip mulch.
>> The hardy hibiscus (Hybiscus rosa-sinensis) or Chinese hibiscus (H. syriacus the Rose of Sharon) and our native Malvariscus arboreus perform well in our gardens during the summer. To enjoy the blooms of Chinese hibiscus as table decorations, cut the blooms in the early morning, just after the bud has opened. Place them on a plate in the refrigerator until time to decorate the table. They do not require water. Remember, the flowers only last one day, so cut on the day you will use them.
>> Hold off on any heavy pruning during the summer months. Only remove dead twigs and save pruning and shaping until October when the weather cools down. Severe pruning during the summer will stunt or kill large established shrubs.
>> Do not apply fertilizer to your garden plants or to turf grass during the summer. Wait until early October.
>> Inspect garden plants for insect damage and treat with an insecticide.
>> Spider mites can do a lot of damage under dry windy conditions to young citrus fruits. Turn leaves over to check for the tale tell webbing they leave. You can spray a horticultural soap or neem oil in late afternoon. Watering the citrus tree leaves heavily until the water is dripping from the leaves will also discourage spider mites. Spider mites will feed on the young fruit and cause dark areas to form and fruit to be stunted.
>> Re-blooming salvias can be trimmed as flowers fade. Remove only the spent flower and a couple of inches of stem below the flower.
>> Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) can be cut, in the same manner as the salvias, as can zinnias. Picking flowers frequently encourages most flowers to continue blooming.
>> Pick okra and peppers often to maintain production.
>> Keep an eye out for drought stress. Plants with young fruit, like citrus, should be watered on a regular basis to assure production.
Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her on the radio at 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV, or contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.